September 28, 2013 @ 6:00 pm – 9:30 pm
10638 100 St
We can not ask for a better start to the Children of Vietnam Benevolent Foundation. September 28th Fundraising Dinner was the culmination of countless late nights and even longer days for all members involved. Who would have thought that more than a quarter century after a handful of children were brought together by the hands of fate with the end of the Vietnam War directing boatloads of refugees to this wonderful land that these childhood friends would come full circle and reunite for a common cause dear to their hearts. From drawing the logo, composing the brochures and designing the website to selling the tickets, collecting silent auction items, and planning out the night, it was a collective effort utilizing the artistry and hidden talents of these life-long friends to make the launch of our Foundation a reality.
As we displayed the large collection of auction items that evening, we could not help but be touched by the generosity of all our friends, acquaintances, and local businesses. There were so many incredible items: Oiler tickets, CATS tickets, Dixie Chicks tickets, a Kobo reader, Lego sets, evening gowns and traditional dresses, auto-starters, and even a Taylor Hall-autographed jersey. As well, there were wonderful gift packages from beauty salons, professional photographers and Tae Kwon Do Masters. And we were truly moved by the tremendous love and time that went into the stunning hand-painted charcoal and water color paintings, the regal origami creations, the beautiful handmade Lotus Blossom quilt and the rustic barn-wood picture frame, to name a few.
On any given day, one does not often take stock of the number of friends in one’s life, but on this day, we were reminded of the blessings in our lives when familiar faces from distant past and present poured through the doors of the Emperor’s Palace. There were friends who drove hundreds of kilometres and friends who rearranged their work schedule, birthday and anniversary parties just to be here to walk with us on this journey. A retired Biology teacher, Mr. Baril, actually became quite the celebrity as a handful of St. Joseph’s composite high school alumni clamoured to greet this distinguished teacher from 20yrs past. It was so moving to see how the paths of old friends and acquaintances cross on this momentous occasion. And it was humbling to meet so many new faces, individuals who live so selflessly by example.
Although we had some technical glitches, the night itself was nothing less than extraordinary. The evening opened with a high energy acrobatic Lion Dance from the Chua Phat Quang Lion Dance Troupe. The dinner, our guests and all children were blessed with a prayer from Father Gilles Gauthier and though we were running late, the pleasant owner of the Emperor’ Palace, Candi, and her servers ensured that the savoury meals were timely served to the satisfaction of our 360 gracious guests. We felt honoured that the children of the Edmonton Vietnamese Language School also came to perform three beautifully graceful traditional dances – the Lotus Dance, Drum Dance, and Lantern Dance – in support of the children in Vietnam. It was also so lovely to see so many beautiful children in the audience, and they were treated to a special magic show by the talented Father Hung of the Queen Martyr’s Parish.
The generosity of our guests was palpable in their avid purchases of the Florida rental raffle tickets and their competitive bids on many of the auction items. Even one of our guests, Ngoc, who won the 50/50 tickets kind-heartedly donated the $900 winning back to the Foundation.
In the end, it was a very humbling evening and we are so grateful to everyone for making our first fundraiser an incredible success, as we raised $33,900. In our hearts and on our minds were also the many friends and businesses who still donated generously towards our cause even when they couldn’t be there with us that night. It is our task now to honour this kindness by continuing our work towards improving the lives of the impoverished children of Vietnam.