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Raksha Celebrates 10 Years of Service to the South Asian Community

June 2006
Raksha Celebrates 10 Years of Service to the South Asian Community

After much anticipation, Raksha's 10th Anniversary Gala, ‘Power of Change,' was unveiled on Saturday, April 22nd. Key community and business leaders were present to champion this evening. Due to generous in-kind donations as well as $40,000 in corporate and individual sponsorships, the event raised approximately $50,000 for the organization. The money raised from the Gala is crucial in maintaining Raksha's programs and meeting the growing needs of the South Asian community in Atlanta. While this money will allow the organization to achieve many of its goals, more money will be needed to take the organization through the next ten years.���

Gala co-chairs, Jaya Patel and Mala Sharma, were thrilled with the overwhelming support from sponsors and community members. Jaya Patel stated, "We are amazed at the overwhelming corporate and individual support for this event. The elegant ballroom space, the amazing dinner catered by Bhojanic, the powerful words of our keynote speaker, Vanita Gupta, the silent auction, and a sold out event all contributed towards a beautiful evening celebrating Raksha's 10th anniversary."

The elegant evening brought over 200 supporters of Raksha to the exclusive Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in Midtown Atlanta. SCAD's contemporary space was an ideal location to host the event, primarily because of the unique d�cor and the fact that this was the last public event that SCAD was allowing to host on their premises.���

The VIP-only cocktail hour was well attended by sponsors, community leaders, and long-time supporters of the organization. A silent auction of over 40 donated works raised approximately $7000. Other supporters donated jewelry, clothing, and gift certificates. One particular piece, appraised at $7000, was created by Amina Ahmed in honor of Raksha. Donations by Shashi Tharoor, Ujjagar Singh Wassan, Tina Romero, Vinodini Jayaraman, Malika Garrett, Diane Haus, Sikara jewelry, Nina Arora, Aalia Mujtaba, Crowne Plaza Buckhead, Renaissance Hotels, Sevya, and Suhas SenGupta were the highlights of the auction.

A delectable dinner buffet was catered by Bhojanic Restaurant, who graciously provided a discount to Raksha organizers without compromising the eclectic Indian-inspired menu choices. Far from the ordinary fare of dal, chawal and tandoori chicken, the dishes were unique and extremely well received. The "Raksha-tini," a martini created in honor of the event, was just one more example of the special touches added by the organizers.

The audience was moved by the words of keynote speaker Vanita Gupta. Gupta, a Civil Rights attorney, is known for her outstanding efforts to combat bias and discrimination towards marginalized communities. Gupta is a strong advocate for human rights and has been working towards social justice for many years now. Gupta has received the Vanderbilt Medal for Public Service and has been recognized for her work related to the death penalty and juvenile rights-based work. In 2004, she also received the Reebok Human Rights award.

Undeniably, the highlight of the evening was the recognition of key Raksha members, who were honored for their long term support of the organization and the South Asian community in Atlanta. Raksha founders Sunita Iyer and Sonia Sharma were presented with a plaque for establishing Raksha's foundation 10 years ago. A surprise award – the Lifetime Achievement Award – was also given to current Raksha Executive Director Aparna Bhattacharyya for her dedication. Along with Iyer and Sharma, Bhattacharya is the third pillar of the organization. Vanita Gupta was also honored for her Community Leadership. As the emotional evening was capped off with coffee and an array of scrumptious desserts, the organizers, staff, volunteers, and long-time supporters of Raksha were finally able to sit back and reminisce over the years gone by.

To honor the sponsors of the 10th Anniversary ‘Power of Change' Gala, direct links are posted on the Raksha website at www.raksha.org for one year to build stronger ties with the South Asian community.


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