Karuna Charities hosted its eleventh Annual Diwali Gala and Dinner on November 16, 2008, at the Holiday Inn in Gaithersburg. The fundraiser was hosted by effervescent Mrs. Nilima Mehra, hostess of the Salaam India and Chitramala television programs. The mood for the event was set by a dance medley by nine lovely young ladies, choreographed by Mrs. Priti Vasadeva of the Kalanjali School of Folk Dances.
Karuna's mission is to assist the needy and disadvantaged in the United States and India. Karuna Charities especially helps battered women and children with financial and moral support to enable them to become independent and live with dignity. Karuna's goal is to help needy and meritorious students through educational scholarships and vocational training. Karuna is also involved in community service.
Mrs. Kalotra, in her welcome speech, outlined Karuna's role in the community and thanked Karuna's members and the community for its generous support. From a small beginning in Lekha Sreenivasan's living room, Karuna has grown with much nurturing, into an organization that has donated over $150,000 in broad-based charitable activities that do not limit themselves in their scope. Although the major thrust of activities continues to be the support of the disadvantaged of any race or country of origin in the local community, Karuna is part of a much larger International community as well, and has responded swiftly to natural disasters like the Tsunami in Southeast Asia and Hurricane Katrina. The typical activity of a Karuna volunteer includes helping women who are transitioning from life in a shelter toward independent living with educational and vocational training and rent, delivering meals at local shelters, buying medical supplies for the sick, and assisting local, state, and national government organizations in times of natural disasters and calamities. In her speech, Mrs. Kalotra described the Karuna Scholarship fund that has been established at the Northern Virginia Community College (NVCC) Education Foundation and at Montgomery College in Maryland. She also described plans to establish a scholarship in the District of Columbia.
The ceremonial Diwali lamp was lit by Dr. Geeta Rao Gupta, president of the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW). She praised Karuna Charities for helping the needy and pointed out that the education of women is directly related to the health and well-being of their families, their community, their country, and the world.
The highlight of this Diwali Gala was the talent contest. Each table voted on the performers.
The winners were Ms. Radhika Puri (creative dance), first prize and Ms. Simmy Goswami (vocal), second prize.
Next, raffle prizes from Holiday Inn, Bombay Tandoor, Radiance Anti-Ageing Skin Medical Center, Law Offices of Raja Bhandari and Sakson Settlements, and Zevar Jewelers (an attractive 22 carat gold ring), were given to the winners picked by Mrs Bina Dhir, Joint Treasurer; Mrs. Kanti Singh, Vice President; and Mrs. Promila Banik, Secretary. The winners were announced by Ms. Nilima Mehra.
The program ended with a vote of thanks by Mrs. Sujata Avasthi, Vice-President.
Karuna appreciates the generosity of all our sponsors, donors, and guests. The grand sponsors were: Shady Grove Radiological Consultants, P.A.; and Dr. Rajesh Mehra, Global Television Network.
The Sponsors were: Bombay Tandoor, International Business and Technical Consultants (IBTCI); Sujata Avasthi, Provincial Real Estate; Development and Training Services (dTS), Aiken School - The Montessori School; Jyoti Gujral, Financial Solutions Group, LLC; Dr. Smita Patel; Mr. Sanjay Puri & Mrs. Aparna Puri; and Zevar Jewellers.
The Donors were: Mr. Rakesh Arora, Mr. Arvind Sood, Zilley Huma (Realtor), and Sangam Restaurant.
The sumptuous dinner was catered by Mrs. Rani Varma of Bombay Tandoor.
DJ Hemant Kumar set a happy tone with favorite songs from Bollywood.
An informative brochure for the occasion was created by Amrit Kalotra, Sangita Kalotra, and Puneet Sharma with printing by Apple Printers.
Decor was provided by Gita Bhatia.
The next fundraiser for Karuna’s humanitarian missions will be a golf tournament in May 2009 and we, at Karuna hope you will help to make it a big success.
On returning home from the Karuna Diwali Gala, one of the guests realized that she had lost a gold bracelet, a precious gift from her parents. The lost jewelry was returned to her by the manager at Holiday Inn. The fundraiser for a good cause ended on a happy note for this guest, and we hope it ended on a positive note for you.