A couple weeks ago, I was lucky enough to attend a charity event for my work. Things got super busy, and I never got around to telling you guys about it, but it was an awesome experience and is definitely worth talking about.
As a bit of background, I should mention that I work for a large global corporation (which I try to be ambiguous about on here, for obvious reasons), which partners with an organization called Room to Read as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
Room to Read is an awesome company, but up until a few weeks ago, I didn’t know too much about it. I knew the company provided books and libraries to children in poverty, but I had no idea the extent of the work that Room to Read does until I volunteered at work to help with the DC chapter’s annual Room to Read gala.
The gala took place on May 2, and I was able to leave work a bit early with a few of my coworkers to help set things up. We were told to dress in business formal attire and where we had to be, but otherwise I had no idea what I was jumping in to. All I knew it was that it was for a good cause, so I blindly signed up to assist.
Good thing I did!
Upon arriving at the venue, it was clear that the location was going to be spectacular. The chic glass elevator should have been my first clue that this was not going to be a normal work function.
Helloooo down there! (I have to be honest, the glass elevator was a little scary and I wouldn’t recommend riding one if you’re afraid of heights!)
As soon as we stepped off the elevator and into the main room, I was blown away by the view. Holy capital building! Just look at that view!
It was such a beautiful location!
Soon it was time to be seated for dinner, and I was lucky enough to sit at a table in the back (near the windows- and the view!) with my coworkers.
We were served some great food, including salad with balsamic vinaigrette…
Shout out to Amanda for taking this picture! Hi Amanda!
Once the dinner was over, the gala moved on to a more serious note and we watched a ton of inspirational videos about the good work that Room to Read does.
Here’s an example of the types of videos we saw:
John explained to us that he used to be a senior executive at Microsoft. He worked a busy lifestyle and sat behind his computer all day raking in more money than most of us will ever see in a lifetime. He had everything that a rich business man should want, except that he didn’t feel fulfilled.
Then on a vacation to a remote town in India, he visited a school and realized it had no books. How could the children learn to read and write without any books, he wondered. It was at this moment that John’s life changed forever- he left his big corporate job at Microsoft and founded a nonprofit organization dedicated to building libraries and providing books for children in under-developed nations around the world.
One of Room to Read’s target audiences is young women. So often in these countries, the young girls are married off before they even hit puberty or drop out of school to take care of their families. We were told that the number one killer of children 11 to 15 years old in some of these countries is child birth. Can you even imagine such a thing? Room to Read is striving to educate young women so they can continue with their schooling and become something other than under-educated young mothers. And guess what? It’s working.
To this day Room to Read has helped more than 7.8 million children learn to read, including 21,582 girls.
As if hearing all of this information from the founder wasn’t inspiring enough, next came the live auction.
Now, I realize the attendees of this gala were not necessarily your “average Joe.” In the middle of a Washington DC fundraiser, these people probably had way more money than most of us ever will. I get that. But, their generosity still blew me away.
Tons of people donated $5,000 to build new libraries. One man offered to match each bid, and wound up paying about $50,000 total at the end of the night. Two of my coworkers donated $250 each to help print new books, and I contributed $20 to each of them to help pay for it (if my salary was larger, you can bet I would have helped out even more!).
Me with my beautiful coworkers!
Before the night was over, Room to Read had raised $388,000. Wow. I was incredibly impressed. I felt so honored to be a part of such a great movement (and to think- all I had to do was set up some flowers beforehand. Wow).
Once the event was officially over, my coworkers and I decided we didn’t want the night to end, so we headed to the Board Room in DuPont circle for a few more drinks…but not before snapping a few last silly pictures with the capital building
Heyyyy Amanda! Haha.
We were able to take the flower centerpieces home with us, so we decided to bring them in the cab with us on the way to the bar. Hey, you can’t waste flowers, right?
Note: This cab driver had bad allergies and hated us. Oops! Not sure why you would pick up 5 girls holding flowers if you knew your allergies were that bad…oh well!
We stayed at the bar for quite a while before eventually heading home around midnight. It was a fantastic evening and I felt so honored to be a part of the DC chapter’s Room to Read gala. What a wonderful organization! It was a great opportunity and an evening I will never forget!
Question of the day: Have you ever helped out with a charity event? Did you want to donate?
Also as an FYI, if anyone is interested in donating to Room to Read you can check out their donation page here: https://www.roomtoread.org/Donate. Any amount is welcome!