“Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others”
-Booker T. Washington
On November 19th, A Free Bird celebrated its first, what is to be annual, I AM gala. Our president, Godni Amir, and all our volunteers and interns put so much effort into and worked so hard for this evening, and all we can say is that it was amazing! Inspired by the color of the freedom of the sky, the event was wrapped in blue nuances, even the desserts! Everybody was dressed to impress, and the space, 501 Union in Brooklyn, is a gorgeous room with two bars, sofa areas, impressive chandeliers and inviting lighting.
By 6 pm guests started arriving, the red carpet was the first thing everyone saw as they entered which was a fantastic touch, and allowed the guests to get a feel for our gala. Lauren Pollack was a fantastic and helpful host, and once you entered, you were greeted by a couple of the organization’s beautiful people, all dressed in black and blue. Before stepping onto the prominent red carpet to have their photo taken, the guests could buy raffle tickets to win the fantastic gifts that so many generous sponsors had contributed.
I was one of the volunteers who helped check in the guests, and it was such a pleasure to experience the expression of the newly arrived, beautiful guests’ faces. Their eyes were glistening with expectation and excitement, they all wore wonderful, festive dresses and suits, and they had come here to have a good time and to support a good cause.
A Free Bird’s president and founder, Godni Amir.
There was an array of activities and performances throughout the evening. Vivian Fleischer, who is a cancer survivor, entertained at the piano and received A Free Bird’s first Special Artist Supporting Artist Award. The Velveteen Ensemble filled the room with beautiful classical music while the guests arrived, and Beethoven Pianos had generously donated one of their gorgeous pianos for the night. We had the pleasure of listening to its tunes through the fingers of Erica Nadera, who performed in Broadway National Tour of Miss Saigon.
The silent auction was an exciting touch with items and artwork from so many generous sponsors. Our special auction guest was Sarah Jassir, who donated an amazing bridal dress that the guests could admire from the larger room.
Admiring the auction.
To add to the glamour of the night, A Free Bird also handed out trophies to the organization’s honorees: Dr. Karl Alorbi received the AFB Innovation Award, Tamar Madmoni-Reich received the AFB Creative Arts Award, and Phil Miller the AFB Philanthropy award. We thank all of you for your unbelievable support and faith in us!
A Free Bird’s first annual I AM gala showed that charity and art go hand in hand to beat cancer! We are so proud and happy to announce that all the children who performed at the gala, who have been part of one of our programs, are all CANCER FREE! It was so moving to see the children now, with their families, having a good time. The whole evening was woven in an aura of magic and music, and all the fabulous performances manifest how art is an inseparable part of life.
Chandlir, second from left, an A Free Bird cancer survivor. The song “A Free Bird”, written by A Free Bird’s president, Godni Amir, was performed by Godni and Chandlir at the gala for the very first time to launch the organization’s I AM campaign.
The organization would like to thank all the fantastic and generous sponsors and everybody who defied the rain and showed up to make this an unforgettable, splendid evening!
Testimonies from our volunteers attest to the great success!:
”The event was absolutely amazing! It was incredible to see the night start off a little slow and grow to be an outstanding and beautiful event. The children performing all posed on the red carpet for the camera, including our honorees. Each honoree and AFB Child received a table to sit at so they could watch all performances and speeches. Godni spoke about the organization while the presentation was behind him showing pictures of our children as well as the future of A Free Bird. Kalpana, our Programs Director, spoke about the Programs Department and the future of AFB including our AFB App which will be launching soon! Each honoree spoke about how they play a crucial role in the organization and how they believe so much in the organization and its mission. The night was filled with laughs, sorrow, and of course incredibly powerful entertainment. Chandlir who is now free from cancer performed, as well as Joseph who beat leukemia, performed the guitar and sang his song that he wrote himself specifically for this event! Kaela, one of the AFB Children, spoke about how AFB and the arts make her feel and how it makes her forget about the cancer and how AFB helped her. The dessert at the end of the night was marvelous! Every child, parent, friend, and AFB family member enjoyed the creation made by Neat Sweets. It was truly an inspirational and unforgettable event!” – Ryan
“After visiting A Free Bird Annual Gala 2015 I am absolutely delighted to tell you that there are quite a few happy people in New York. The gala took place last Thursday at the fabulous “501 Union” in Brooklyn. As I walked in I knew that event was very special; for people who organized it, for people who attended it, for the children, and for Godni himself. The gala was about celebrating life and getting strength and hope to fight cancer. A Free Bird aims to provide children diagnosed with cancer a chance to explore their artistic passion, and at the gala we had an opportunity to meet some of those children and to admire their talent and enthusiasm. I was truly amazed by the organization of the event, Godni and his team of volunteers executed everything to a high standard: live music, food and drinks, entertainment and performances, a huge candy bar with a wide variety of sweets, and finally a thoughtful gift bag for every guest. The best gift of course was to hear from a child that, he or she, won the battle and is now cancer free. Thank you A Free Bird for sharing with us the healing power of art!” – Sveta
The Velveteen Ensemble.
“As I walked into 501 Union, the sounds of pouring rain seemed to fade. I was greeted warmly by smiling A Free Bird volunteers and the musical melodies of Velveteen Ensemble. Giving a glamorous appeal, before my very eyes was a red carpet surrounded by ropes; flashing lights from photographers, and equipment from multiple videographers. In the distance, I could hear the excited chatter and see a multicultural array of people – all whom shared in one thing: A Free Bird’s mission. The evening was filled with delicious food and beverage, as each server and bartender willingly served with a smile. Of all the impressive performances, heartfelt speeches and beautiful presentations, the highlight of the night were the children’s performances – to see a little boy in remission strum his fingers to a guitar as he sung the self-written “I Am A Fee Bird” song, to see a teenager in remission sing her heart out, and to see a girl give an inspirational speech despite the loss of one leg, reinforced what A Free Bird strives to do everyday: “to empower each bird to fly free”. That night, I was especially proud to be a part of the A Free Bird family.” – Mahalia
Thanks to Neat Sweets and Erin McKenna’s Bakery we enjoyed this gorgeous dessert buffet!
Posted by: Laura B. Hauch