DSC_0559The third annual OPEN HEARTS BIG DREAMS fundraising took place   Saturday, Dec 14th 2013 at Seattle’s kings hall. The fundraising  had bold goals of hosting 300 guests and raising $90,000 to allow Ethiopia Reads to do even more for more than 125,000 children it serves in Ethiopia. The night was very lively and fun. The guests enjoyed different Ethiopia cultural music and live dance, delicious Ethiopian cuisines, cultural Ethiopian coffee ceremony and silent and live auction. I was also one of the scheduled speakers and one of my donated piece went to a supporter after an intense auction. The auction started $500 in $100 dollar increment and it went for $3050.00.

Besides all the fun things that happened Saturday night, I was very glad and inspired to see the overwhelming support of our guests to educate and help kids in Ethiopia. I shook hands and talked to different peoples from all walk of life all under the same roof for the greater cause of educating children across the ocean. Friday night, when we set up the hall, I worked and chatted with an Amazon.com employee, a lady that traveled from Iowa just to attend the fundraising, an Ethiopian mother and an Ethiopian man who had a concert scheduled the next day (but he stop by anyways) Seattle mother with three kids (the younger one one year old) among the twenty plus volunteers. The next day, the volunteers showed up in droves, most high school students (very professional and mature I have to add) and local Ethiopian community members. These volunteers played a crucial role for the past three years. They are the musicians, the dancers, the ushers, the bidders, the receptionist and greeters and so on. The success of Open Hearts and Big Dreams got to do with every one of these volunteers, donors and supporters.

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Just like the volunteers the attendees were also very diverse and amazingly generous. They showed immense love to Ethiopian kids. By their presence and contribution they told Ethiopian kids they are with them. I emphasized the same message and thank the attendees for their support on behalf of Ethiopia.

In 2011, Ellenore and Michael Angelidis first hosted Open Hearts Big Dreams as a way to connect their love of reading with their love of their daughter, Leyla, and their commitment to her country of birth, Ethiopia. I can say a lot about Ellenore and Micheal and their dedication to change life in Ethiopia, The love they have to their daughter and sons and how that love manifest itself in a less fortunate in a form of providing education. This is a story that needs its own post. Besides all of that, I am always amazed how they manage to have to time to organize, arrange and plan on top of their other responsibilities. The incredible focus and dedication they have, I never see before. The great outpouring of volunteers and donors is simply the testament to their dedication and care and how contagious there message is and will be for a long time.

Besides speaking and donating art, I also involved this year as a creative director of the event. I have to say one can see the ambiance of the hall and see the improvements we did this year. Event coordinator Holy Kate and her team did a great job of executing the final look.

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In short, the event was very successful, I know the final numbers are not tallied yet but it feels like we accomplished what we set out to accomplish. Think about joining us next year. Happy Holiday!

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