By Nisha Sutaria
Chicago: “We were told to expect half of the revenues collected in 2008 because of the economy, but we came close to the figures of last year — the night was a great success,” said Kali Cohn, the Banquet Coordinator for the Indo-American Center (IAC) Annual Benefit Gala at the Oakbrook Marriott on October 25.
About 400 guests gathered to celebrate IAC’s success and support the non-profit organization’s future endeavors and aspirations. Dr. Marshall Bouton, President of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, was the keynote speaker, and Ravi Baichwal, ABC 7 News Anchor, returned as Master of Ceremonies. Also present were Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White and Consul General of India Ashok Kumar Attri.
In his address, Dr. Bouton explored over four decades of relations between India and the US. Speaking of current affairs, he discussed globalization and the pivotal role of the “rise of the rest,” referring to Asia and, more specifically, India. He explained the importance of the US —Indian relations and how the IAC has made a mark not only in the city, but in the country. “The Center is the bridge between India and the city and the US in general… it’s made Chicago a better place,” he claimed.
The IAC developed a new vision for the future, and the need for funding has become even more significant. With the help of McKinsey & Company, the IAC created a three to five-year strategic plan that will respond to the growing need in the community by both creating additional programming and expanding the current two-floor, 9,000-square-foot building to a three-floor, 15,000-square- foot building.
The new IAC vision is “to become the premier social service organization for low-income South Asian immigrants and their families seeking to integrate into the greater Chicago area.” To reach this goal, the primary focus will be workforce development in the South Asian community. Additional programming, including an employability training program, will help better prepare South Asian immigrants to compete for and acquire jobs within the community.
The goal of the night was to raise $150,000; by the end of the evening, the IAC came very close to reaching this benchmark. Throughout the course of the night, various fundraising efforts contributed toward this goal.
Ravi Baichwal addressed the guests and introduced the night’s fundraising opportunities, including the Matching Program, live and silent auctions, and various raffle prizes.
IAC vice president Prem Balani described the program as “a snowball effect.” He commented, “Once we started receiving donations during the Matching Pro-gram, a synergy developed in the crowd that encouraged others to make whatever donation was possible.”
The Indo-American Center is a not-for-profit community service organization serving the South Asian immigrant population. The mission of the Indo-American Center is to promote the well being of South Asian immigrants through services that facilitate their adjustment, integration and friendship with the wider society, nurture their sense of community, and foster appreciation for their heritage and culture.
By Nisha Sutaria