A full house of 225 guests attended the sixth-annual Around the World fundraising gala Oct. 10 in the Jasmine Room at the Grand Manse, raising over $21,000 for the nonprofit GIRLPowR.
“The funds will support GIRLPowR’s programming in all three countries served – the U.S. (Lincoln), rural Nicaragua and rural Jamaica,” said Executive Director Julie Reager, who founded the nonprofit organization in 2013 to support girls’ education and empowerment.
Reager gave a presentation and showed a video that educated guests about GIRLPowR’s programs.
Around the World event attendees heard testimonials from GIRLPowR participants Natalie Al Jumaili, and sisters Katie and Kiana Pearson. The girls said they gained skills and confidence to stand up for themselves by attending GIRLPowR after-school programs and summer camps.
Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird’s keynote speech focused on role models, citing former Lincoln mayors Helen Boosalis and Coleen Seng as important influences on her own life.
Gaylor Baird told the audience that by supporting GIRLPowR, they are role models for all young women touched by the organization – girls who face obstacles growing up that we can only imagine.
“Role models empower us by opening the door to more possibilities,” she said. “They motivate us to push ourselves. They dare us to dream.”
Gaylor Baird closed her presentation with a quote from Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani woman who was shot by the Taliban for speaking out about the importance of education for girls.
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“There are two powers in the world,” Yousafzai had said. “One is the sword and the other is the pen. There is a third power stronger than both, that of women.”
Gaylor Baird thanked the audience for their work to build strong girls into stronger women.
“One girl at a time, you are helping to build a world that is more caring, more peaceful and more just.”
402ink received the Community Partner Award for supporting GIRLPowR with donated services.
“402ink, owned locally by Dan and Angie Okelberry, has been supportive of GIRLPowR even before its conception – our longest-standing partner,” said Reager. “Our GIRLPowR logo is Dan’s concept and design, created even before we became a legal entity. 402ink provides t-shirts for GIRLPowR and has sponsored our event every year since we started. This year, they developed a fundraiser for us through the limited t-shirt sales as well as helping us explore new fundraising efforts.”
Guests enjoyed ethnically influenced hors d’oeuvres crafted by a dozen local eateries while bidding on silent auction items donated by local businesses and individuals. Mengistu Kuwa, known as DJ Kef, played background music, mixing Caribbean, African and Latin tunes, and Henna artists provided temporary tattoos to those who wanted them.
Jackie Allen sang vocals and Christopher Neale accompanied her on guitar as they performed Brazilian bossa nova music, and the Impundo Troop performed traditional Rwandan songs and dance. Gerardo Meza & The Dead of Night completed the live entertainment.
BC Clark served as emcee, and Ryan Anderson led the live auction.
For more details about GIRLPowR, see girlpowr.org or call 402-875-0194.