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The UNICEF USA Northwest Region held the inaugural UNICEF Gala San Francisco on October 7th, 2017. The Gala was a tremendous success having nearly 300 guests in attendance and over $495,000 raised for children all over the world. The evening began with a cocktail hour where the guests mingled and participated in several different UNICEF stations. There was a Water Walk simulation that taught the guests the difficulties children – especially girls – endure while retrieving water in drought-ridden countries, a Virtual Reality bar with various films about children who are helped by UNICEF, and a Commitment Booth where guests took photos and committed to putting children first
After the cocktail hour concluded, guests filled the ballroom to hear the UNICEF USA President and CEO Caryl Stern give a warm welcome and introduce UNICEF’s work for children around the world. Caryl gave her personal narrative regarding why she works tirelessly for children around the world. At the age of six, her Jewish mother fled Austria during the Holocaust in the care of a woman whose name she never knew and whom she never saw again. Caryl’s mother safely immigrated to the United States from the help of one person. This story influenced Caryl to be an individual who can make a difference in many people’s lives. She shared her philosophy that each person can have a positive impact on a child’s life.
The highlight of the evening was honoring UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Ishmael Beah with the Spirit of Compassion Award. Ishmael gave his moving recount of being a child soldier in Sierra Leone. He was rescued with the help of UNICEF and became an advocate for children’s rights. Ishmael is also the President and Founder of the Ishmael Beah Foundation. This foundation helps former child soldiers adjust to everyday society. The Northwest Community was honored to have him speak at the Gala.
The Gala concluded with a DJ mix set from Eric Prydz and dancing.
With the generosity of our supporters, the gala raised over $495,000 to aid children across 190 countries. The UNICEF USA Northwest Community extends a special thanks to the Gala Co-Chairs, Susanne Caballero and Nick Tedesco, the Gala Committee, the Northwest Regional Board, and our community of supporters who helped us raise money and awareness for the most vulnerable children in the world.