IACF Gala Goes “Casino Night” to Raise Funds for Local Charities

IACF incoming President Pankaj Rana with current Pres. Rajesh Dikonda and Board members.

By Jawahar Malhotra

STAFFORD, TX: It was a case of deja-vu as the Indo American Charity Foundation once again turned to a format for its 36th Annual Gala, which had worked well for it in the past. Who, after all, could turn down a Casino Night, especially if was tagged as a “Play to Win, Win to Give” opportunity that would benefit many local charities?

Judging from the 320 people who attended the Gala on Saturday, September 9 at the Stafford Centre on Cash Road, very few could resist the temptation to try their luck at Poker, Roulette or Chaps knowing their gaming would support others in need.

IACF Board

Adding to the allure was an entertainment show that featured the very funny comedian Paul Vargheese who has often performed in Houston followed by a dance segment by Meckka Dance Project, a National award winning competition and performing arts company; and some Bollywood dance numbers by the Team Synergy troupe.

As if that wasn’t enough of a distraction while playing Blackjack, Subodh Bhucchar, always in demand at many galas as auctioneer, managed to raise the ante for fund collections by pushing up the prices on many items, including dinner at Mahesh’s Kitchen and Indian Summer restaurant. Lest we forget, the cuisine was the evening was brought out by Dawat Catering.

Among the guests were several elected officials – Stafford City Mayor Ken Mathew, Ft Bend County District Attorney Brain Middleton, Ft Bend Commissioners Court Judge K. P. George, and Fort Bend County Justice of the Peace, Precinct 3 Sonia Rash.

Keynote Speaker Arjun Sen, CEO of ZenMango

IACF President Rajesh Dikonda

Keynote Speaker for the evening was Arjun Sen, CEO of ZenMango, who is a former Fortune 500 executive, an acclaimed Brand Zen® and one of the top growth drivers in the Brand and Customer Experience space. At Papa John’s, he led the 3,000-restaurant chain to 4-years of record growth. He is a celebrated author of the book Customer Karma. Sen spoke of the ways to overcome fear and work with it instead.

During the year, the IACF awarded scholarships to 26 students from Fort Bend, Katy, and Alief ISD, with a total value of $40,000; held a Walkathon to raise money and made annual grants to  18 charities, totaling $52,000. The IACF website has also been updated and now features a Digital Payments tab; while the IACF has increased visibility in social media. This year’s Gala was estimated to have raised $125,000.

Reflecting on these milestones, Rajesh Dikonda, President of IACF said “We are so grateful for the support of our community. The funds raised tonight will help us to continue our work of providing essential services to those in need.”