August 13, 2011

Magical Mahilaa Night

Michelle Hitch
Development Committee

This year’s Bo M. Karlsson Fundraising Event was nothing less than an enchanting and inspiring experience. Arriving on a warm summer evening, prayer flags fluttered over the threshold of the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center to mark the transition from normal every day to something much more magical. Embroidered and bejeweled saris glittered in the light as they floated down the hallway towards the registration desk. Beyond, music and bubbling chatter welcomed guests to a room filled with donated treasure.

During the four hours that followed, kindness, generosity, human compassion, excitement, hope and joy filled the room and hearts of Mahilaa Night guests. The Silent Auction was anything but silent: greetings by old friends and Auctioneer Laura Michalek’s encouraging commentary filled the room. The energy palpably heightened as the bidding at each table closed: “Will that beautiful handcrafted silver bracelet be mine to wear home?”

In the main Live Auction room, as guests chose their seats at bright, colorful tables, the air filled with warm aromas of spicy Nepalese cuisine. Dried sal leaf plates, carried by hand back from Nepal especially for this occasion, prompted quizzical looks from some first-time guests. But old friends of BMKF knew just what to expect of the authentic meal and Nepalese dance performance. The new twist for the evening was a Live Auction that accompanied dinner. Laura Michalek took to the stage alongside the evening’s endearing MC, Sujan Shrestha. The pair were dynamic entertainers: natural hosts of the lively, jovial, (at times even frantic) auction room scene. Generosity flowed freely as bids and donations were pledged one after the other. Cheers spontaneously erupted from the crowd as bids reached crescendo and laughter accompanied surprise bids from the MC’s podium. Without a doubt the Live Auction added a whole new level of fun participation to the evening. The smiles on people’s faces confirmed it.

The night ended on a sweet sugar high thanks to Liv Browning’s and others’ amazing desserts. These luscious masterpieces fostered friendly “dessert dash” competition to help raise almost $27,000 for the evening. (With additional donations by those who could not attend, the Grand Total is closer to $31,000!) The fundraising success would not have been possible without the tremendous support from numerous volunteers, both in the lead up to the event and on the evening itself.

Our most important and heart-felt thanks, however, goes out to all the generous individuals who donated valuable items and participated in the silent and live auctions. You have truly made a difference in the lives of many young women in Nepal, especially the 11 new scholarships funded by Mahilaa Night. Namaste!