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IACF’s 30 Years of Benevolence & Still Counting!

IACF Board of Directors at the Annual Gala 2018 at Stafford Center on Saturday, October 6.

IACF Board of Directors at the Annual Gala 2018 at Stafford Center on Saturday, October 6.  Photos: Roy Photography

By Vanshika Vipin Varma

STAFFORD: For the past 30 years IACF (Indo-American Charity Foundation) has appealed to the philanthropic spirit of the Indo American community in Houston to address needs in the areas of Education, Family, General Welfare and Healthcare in the metro Houston area. “We live here, We give here” is their motto, and they have a strongly driven and focused mission to foster the local community whose basic needs are met and where everyone can lead enriched lives. Saturday, October 6 saw yet another altruistic event, ‘Thirty in Charity’, IACF’s Annual Gala, at Stafford Centre on Cash Road, attended by around 400 guests and it raised over $165,000.

So far, 2018 has been quite an eventful year for IACF, the year beginning with a notable donation of $200,000 to Houston’s Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Harvey Relief Fund, out of the funds raised at the gala last year. The fundraiser series began with a social walking event Walk-a-Thon: “I Walk- I Care” in April, which was a call for Houstonians to walk, get fit and raise funds. Other events were Annual Scholarship Awards reception in May and Grants Night in August.

From left: IACF President Elect, Shobana Muratee, Chief Guest Consul General of India, Dr. Anupam Ray, Keynote Speaker Bob Patel, CEO of LyondellBasell, and IACF President, Mahesh Wadhwa.

The jamboree, commenced with registration and cocktail, and the ever-charming Rashi Vats, News Anchor & Reporter FOX 26 News, was the emcee for the evening. As a mark of respect to both nations, rendition of National Anthems of United States and India were beautifully presented by Chloe Choudhury and Milinda Nutalapati respectively. It’s always a reflex in every Indian to feel ecstatic and joyful upon hearing the national anthem. And these emotions were all across the hall. The ceremonious lamp was lit, marking an auspicious beginning to the event. Then followed a welcome dance, gracefully performed by students of Rathna Kumar’s Anjali School of Performing Arts.

Welcome dance by students of Rathna Kumar’s Anjali School of Performing Arts

Welcome dance by students of Rathna Kumar’s Anjali School of Performing Arts

IACF President, Mahesh Wadhwa then welcomed the audience and thanked them for extending a helping hand and being a part of the prestigious IACF gala. He got the audiences acquainted with the IACF board. He also rolled out the red carpet for Chief Guest Consul General of India, Dr. Anupam Ray, Keynote Speaker Bob Patel, CEO of LyondellBasell, Mayor Leonard Scarcella, Mayor Protem Ken Mathew and other personages present. His passion was evident as he spoke. He mentioned, “We have strengthened the partnerships with fellow organizations– Indian Doctors Associations and the Indian Doctors Charity Clinic (IDA and IDCC), to raise funds through the ‘I WALK–I CARE’ walkathon, which supports health care projects by these partners and also provides health care facilities at no cost.” With excitement, he shared with the audiences the outstanding work IACF has accomplished in the likes of supporting 18 local charity organizations with grants and providing financial aid to 30 deserving high school seniors through scholarships. He stated that he was overwhelmed by the ongoing support they have been receiving and hoped to get such assistance in future as well. With a view to have the audiences acquainted with the noteworthy efforts of IACF in 2018, an introductory video was played.

Angels of Charity

Angels of Charity

Keynote Speaker, Bhavesh V. ‘Bob’ Patel, CEO of LyndollBasell expressed his gratitude towards the IACF Board, IACF President Mahesh Wadhwa, with special thanks to his associate IACF Board Member Joseph Ellankil, Sr. Manager LyondellBasell for having him over at the gala. He paid his immense respect to IACF for 30 years of selfless giving to the community by raising funds and supporting local organizations. He stated, “the most impressive thing to me is that IACF is a 100% volunteer organization. This helps to keep costs low and maximizes the distribution of funding. So the money goes where it will have the most impact.” With a sense of satisfaction, he shared with the audiences, how funds are raised and put to use by IACF. With great pride, he mentioned that IACF is considered as one of the 4 pillars of the Indian community run charities here in Houston. He commented, “I love their motto, ‘We live here, We give here’, because it speaks to the core of what our community is about and all of the ways we can give back to help those in need.” He went on to share a few of his life experiences, “The thing that has been consistent in my life despite the different jobs and many moves around the world and amidst uncertainties and challenges the things that has made each step of my journey a little more certain are the values that I learnt in my childhood.” He mentioned an instance at a small doughnut shop, which helped him learn important lessons in life, left him nostalgic and overwhelmed. He also added, “Success is born from simple lessons, from simple ways, they are working hard, running the business honestly, doing the right thing in the right way, and treating all people equally and with kindness and respect.”

From left: Emcee Rashi Vats, News Anchor & Reporter FOX 26 News, Chloe Choudhury, and Milinda Nutalapati.

From left: Emcee Rashi Vats, News Anchor & Reporter FOX 26 News, Chloe Choudhury, and Milinda Nutalapati.

Like each year, ‘Friends of Charity’ title was honored to individuals for their service to the community and support to the foundation. IACF Director, Rathna Kumar moderated the awards. Recipients included Subbu Neti, Bangar Reddy Aloori, Amrik Singh Nijjar, Viral Amin, Dr. Barkat Charania, Munira Panjwani, Charanjiv Roye, Dr. Prasun K. Jalal, Mohammad Tariq and Haroon Shaikh.

Consul General of India, Dr. Anupam Ray was the next to express his views to the audience. He stated, “Listening to Mr. Patel’s moving story, I was reminded of the million narratives like Mr. Patel and his mother which make India.” This was followed by a pledge drive by Dr. Nik Nikam.

The next segment had the audience’s spring, bellow, shout and gallop to the beats of a Bhangra performance by Punjabi Bhangra. The ‘Angels of Charity’ awards were conferred upon generous couples that are actively involved in charitable causes. Recipients of this award were Deepika and Swapnil Agarwal, Dr. Renu and Dr. Chary Tamarisa, Dr.Usha and Dr. Vijay Jha, Sarah and Mayank Sangdod, Pragna and Vinod Shah, Anuradha and Mani Subramanium, Sridevi and Kumar Pappa, Dr. Srividhya and Sridhar, Anita and Dr. Kiran Nair, Sridevi Sridhar and Kanchana Kuntla.

Bhangra performance by Punjabi Bhangra

Bhangra performance by Punjabi Bhangra

IACF President Elect, Shobana Muratee, delivered the vote of thanks. She politely expressed her gratitude to the IACF board and gala committees for their inspiring teamwork and dedication. She also thanked Mahesh Wadhwa and his family for extending their help and expertise. Event Chair Sajid Khan, CEO Curve Hospitality, Fuel Maxx, Wallis State Bank, NRG. Swapnil Agarwal and Bob Patel poured in open handed donations to support IACF.

The event concluded with scrumptious dinner served by Bombay Brasserie. Live music kept the audiences engaged during and after dinner, all thanks to Deep Bhattacharya, Sharmistha Kolay and Lakshmi Peter. Mousumi Banerjee seamlessly coordinated the event. The well-coordinated sound and lighting was provided by Sage Productions, beautiful decor by Sheila Burki Designs, photos by Roy Photography, and graphics by Mahesh Malekar. An interesting addition was the silent auction run by Subha Venka and Pankaj Wadhwa.

To learn more about IACF and to become a volunteer, visit www.iacfhouston.com.

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