Recap: 2014 Room To Read Spring Gala In Washington, DC
At the beautiful rooftop of the law offices of Jones Day at 300 New Jersey Ave, NW in Washington D.C., guests of the 2014 Room to Read Spring Gala enjoyed a cocktail reception and dinner overlooking a breathtaking view of the nation’s capitol. It was an evening of inspiration, compassion, and optimism.
Room to Read is a global organization dedicated to promoting and enabling education through programs focused on literacy and gender equality in education for impoverished girls in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Laos, Nepal, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Vietnam, and Zambia.
From the first time Microsoft executive John Wood made a backpacking trip through Nepal in 1998, he saw the harsh reality confronting the villages and children of the country in obtaining educational opportunities. As John left the village, the headmaster of the village school made a simple request: “Perhaps, Sir, you will someday come back with books.” Bring books he did.
Mr. Woods founded Room to Read and began bringing donated books to rural communities in 2000. Since, the organization’s literacy programs have benefitted more than 8.8 million children.
Room to Read has since established 16,549 libraries around the world, constructed nearly 2,000 schools, published more than 1,000 books, and distributed 14.5 million books to the program’s participants. The organization hopes to reach 10 million by 2015.
At the gala, guests enjoyed a dinner that consisted of a mixed green salad followed by roasted airline chicken breast with tomato mushroom ragout and jasmine rice. For the final course, guests dined on an assortment of fruit tarts, chocolate dipped strawberries, pecan bars and butter cookies.
Speakers included former Ambassador to Zambia, Egypt, the Philippines and India, Frank G. Wisner, the President of George Mason University, Dr. Angel Cabrera, and Room to Read volunteer and Microsoft executive Craig Herb, and Mr.Wood who concluded the evening with a presentation and auction.
To close out the evening, dozens of supporters enthusiastically and simultaneously raised their auction paddles to pledge donations to the organization in numerous amounts to help build libraries and schools, sponsor participants, buy books, provide training for teachers, and fund school supplies and decor for classrooms in poverty-stricken communities. In less than 20 minutes time, the attendees of the 2014 Spring Gala had pledged $750,000, including a $200,000 grant from Jones Day.
As guests peered out the window at the shimmering lights of a city that represents the core of a free and prosperous country, Mr. Woods asked that they all take a moment to remind themselves of the opportunities that have been presented to them – including their educations.
With 60 million primary school-aged children around the world who still do not have access to education and most likely will never learn to read or write, Room to Read supporters see a long, yet rewarding road ahead.
“Without an education, you are not you, and I am not me,” said Wood. “World change can only start with educated children, as education is a bright and shining light that changes the future.”