Third AIF Orange County gala raises $450,000

Event honors Manu and Rika Shah, founders of MS International, Inc.

AIF Orange County gala
AIF Orange County gala honorees Rika and Manu Shah.

AB Wire

The Orange County chapter of the American India Foundation raised $450,000 in its third annual gala, according to a press release from the organization. It was attended by more than 250 guests, including some of the region’s most influential philanthropists, entrepreneurs, top business executives, and community leaders, the release said.

The majority of the fund raised came from gala sponsorships, donations, pledge drive and a silent auction. It would go toward AIF’s Maternal and Newborn Survival Initiative (MANSI), a public-private initiative working to reduce maternal and child mortality by providing care, resources, and support to empower local communities to care for their mothers and children – and improve local health systems.

The fundraising drive was preceded by a captivating personal testimony by Sumitra Mahato, a longtime community health worker – or “sahiya” in the MANSI program from Krishnapur village in Jharkhand, who serves all expectant mothers and their babies in her home village.

“MANSI’s power comes from empowering local women to be the agents of change in their own communities,” remarked AIF Co-Founder and Co-Chair Lata Krishnan. “The sahiyas are true bastions of inspiration. It is thanks to local leaders like Sumitra that so many have a successful start to life and the opportunity to live healthy lives.”

The gala honored Manu and Rika Shah, founders of MS International, Inc., for their philanthropic leadership in the region. MS International is one of the leading importers and distributor of natural stones in North America, with imports from 36 countries on six continents.

“Access to education and job skills training are essential to paving the way for a brighter future for any individual,” said Mona Shah. “AIF’s Digital Equalizer program brings innovative technology and educational approaches to school children who do not otherwise have access to technology, while the Market Aligned Skills Training program provides young adults skills training to provide them with better career opportunities. These are important foundations to create better livelihoods.”

In great part due to their longstanding support and affiliation with AIF, the Shahs deepened their partnership with AIF to advance their charitable goals in 2013 with a focus on education and livelihoods.

AIF Trustee and Gala Co-Chair Tinnie Grewal welcomed the audience and thanked Gala Chair MS International, Co-Chair Tarsadia Foundation and leading sponsors such as the Avasant Foundation, Gala Foundation, Paladin Healthcare Capital LLC, and Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth.

“The Orange County community exemplifies the spirit of thinking globally and acting locally,” remarked Grewal. “Thanks to the incredible support of our community, we are building waves across oceans in strengthening AIF’s resolve to uplift so many out of cycles of poverty, and helping them to live healthy, successful, productive lives.”

Award-winning New York-based comedian Anish Shah emceed the event. Rick Werner from Charity Auctioneers led the stunning live auction and fundraising drive.

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