RECAP: 6th Annual Foundation Gala in Washington DC November 13, 2016 by Kim The OMID DC Leadership Group successfully held its annual Foundation Gala on October 21. Featuring the keynote address of OMID Founder Marjaneh Halati, approximately 450 guests learned about the nonprofit’s history and current programs used to empower marginalized young women in Iran. The event program included music, food, live and silent auctions, and a raffle. Beginning with a moving introduction by Mistress of Ceremonies Christine Rai, she emphasized the importance each guest had in bettering the lives of others. “Each of us has a responsibility to empower,” said Christine. Marjaneh incorporated her recollections of two OMID success stories into her speech, all arriving at the OMID Center in Iran after facing the traumas of rape, domestic violence, and neglect. “This is the world OMID operates in, and this is the world we need to change,” Marjaneh said. After receiving treatment at OMID, these girls have received their university degrees and are now working to transform other girls and their communities for the better. The evening also consisted of a runway show, which showcased the unique designs of Azin Valy. The dresses from her “Cityzen line” displayed satellite images of various cities around the world. By incorporating aerial views into her designs, Azin used the arts to portray the commonalities between people and places. The DC Leadership Group was honored to have three talented and persuasive auctioneers. First and foremost, the DC Group was proud to have Maryland Delegate David V. Fraser-Hidalgo (District 15) in addition to Dr. Melodi Javid and Nima Omidvar (pictured below) orchestrating the live auction. Together, the three auctioneers passionately demonstrated the importance of supporting OMID girls, which assisted OMID DC in surpassing its fundraising goal. With the enormous support from the community, sponsors, and guests, the DC Leadership group earned a total of $192,000 from both spring and fall events this year. For the third year in a row, the V&S Foundation and two anonymous donors provided substantial donations. The DC Leadership group was also honored to receive a contribution from the Iranian American Medical Society of Greater Washington (IAMS). The Leadership Group’s Board Directors were invited to the IAMS Nouroz event and presented with a generous donation of $2,000. President of IAMS Dr. Reza Mirali Akbari and his wife Dr. Shabnam Shahabadi were among the honored guests at the 6th Annual Gala. Additionally, Mehrdad Erfani’s Ride for Hope, a bike ride from Pittsburgh to Washington, DC, raised over $6,000 in support of the OMID girls. University of Maryland- College Park’s Iranian Student Foundation also donated all proceeds from its recent ball held on Oct. 8. University of Virginia’s Persian Cultural Society donated $1,000 from their cultural event. In addition, guests enjoyed Persian music donated by Iman Hooshmand from Exclusively Entertainment with DJ Payam and food from Cameron’s Seafood Market, Kadbanoo Catering, Monir Hosseini and Shady Ahmadi Catering, and Classic Bakery. The DC Leadership Group is immensely grateful to all its donors for putting the young women of OMID in your hearts. The donations received from these businesses helped keep the cost of the Gala at about 16%. These funds will continue to empower our girls at the Omid-e-Mehr Center in Tehran. All of the generous support will only help continue OMID’s mission of providing hope in a society that often denies it to women. “OMID does transform lives, and you are a vital part of that transformation,” said Marjaneh. This successful event was made possible by the tireless efforts and extreme dedication of 88 of our Committee Members, OMID Ambassadors and many, many volunteers under the leadership of Gohar Farahani and Farzaneh Javid (Board Directors) and Arastou Javid, Amir Golalipour, Ava Omidvar, Delya Delavari, Haleh Arabzadeh , Hamid Omidvar, Horieh Ghafar, Johnny Irannejad, Matin Shahidi, Mojgan Amir, Najmeh Farahani, Siamak Aram (Team Leaders), and Christine Raj (Mistress of Ceremony). OMID Ambassadors: Ali Davoodi, Haydeh Eradat, Hirbod Sajjadi, Hiva Sajjadi, Homa Eradat, Leslie Davis, Marjan Irannejad, Masood Delavari, Minoo Abdi, Mitra Manzari, Mona Javid, Mozafar Hameedi, Naghmeh Nourozi, Nahid Akhyani, Narges Ershad, Natalie Tehranchi, Parnian Davoodi, Saghar Barzmehri, Sara Nouhi , Sarvazad Katouzian, Shahab Rahmani, Shervin Manzari, Siamak Aram, Soulmaz Jahanbin, Tina Khorsandi. OMID Volunteers for the Day of Event: Ahmad Hodjat, Alex Tancock , Amin Mehr, Andy Barthakur, Ariana Motazed, Bahram Fekrat, Beza Ketema, Bijan Jafari, Eleni Hailu, Faramarz Mamdouhi, Farnoosh Sarraf, Farrokh Khatami, Ghazal Bazargan, Gillian Clifton, Golnar Ershad, Helen Sepasi, Homa Nabavi, Homyra Nezam, Hooman Hamidi, Mahsa Payesteh, Mana Nozad, Negin Jafari, Bahmani, Parisa Davoodi, Parisa Hodjat, Pouyan Kimiaee, Saba Hamidi, Sharis Ahmadi, Shaya Manzari, Steve Monell. ISF Volunteers: Aaron Anderson, Aria Jalalian, Ayda Makou, Behtash Banihashemi, Delaram Tasbihi, Kamyar Dastani, Madeline Alizadeh, Maha Tayefeh, Naseem Pashai, Parsa Saadatpanah, Pouria Faraday, Sasha Margob, Sina Ataei, Taara Momeni, Tami Nikakhtar. High School Volunteers: Aaron Anderson, Askhon Manzari, Ava Zakikhani, Darian Irannejad, Golpari Abari, Kajal Hylton, Tara Manzari, Zia Firouz. For more coverage on the 6th Annual Gala and information on OMID, visit @OmidFoundation on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. See OMID Foundation Social Media Pages. Words by Leslie Davis. Photos by Natalie Tehranchi and Farrokh Kay.