Stitely Soundboard: UNICEF’s “Message of Hope” to Haitian children

Each year Stitely Entertainment works with a number of non-profit or charity organizations. We absolutely love working with these groups not only because of their commitment to an important cause, but also their commitment to hosting fun-filled events. Later this week we’ll be doing a retrospective of some our charity events from the past year, but our latest fundraiser was the Fourth Annual Message of Hope Gala on January 29th at the InterContinental Hotel Chicago. This gala, hosted by the U.S. Fund for UNICEF’s Midwest Regional office, marked the one-year anniversary of the Haitian earthquake and raised funds for UNICEF’s continued work in the country. We recently spoke with Development Coordinator Elisabeth Kasdorf for more information about the gala and about UNICEF as a whole.

As you may know, UNICEF is one of the most successful humanitarian organizations in the world. Working in over 150 countries, UNICEF provides children with health care, clean water, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF’s work through fundraising, advocacy and education in the United States. UNICEF is at the forefront of efforts to reduce child mortality worldwide. Despite substantial progress 22,000 children die each DAY from preventable causes and UNICEF’s mission is to do whatever it takes to make that number zero by giving children the essentials for a safe and healthy childhood. The Midwest is one of five regional offices in the U.S. and serves eleven states.

The Message of Hope Gala on January 29 was the biggest event to be hosted by the Midwest Regional Office all year. More than 370 guests gathered for cocktails and dinner at the InterContinental Hotel Chicago, and between the live and silent auctions as well as the raffle, they donated nearly $550,000! Some of the prizes & auction items included week-long trips to China, Japan, and London (to name a few), a weekend trip to Park Hyatt Beaver Creek (Colorado) Resort and Spa, as well as local hotel and gourmet dinner packages. Kehoe Designs was responsible for the amazing decorations that ornamented the Grand Ballroom, while Gail Pollard Photography was able to capture the action and decor from the night. From the surrounding images of the children of Haiti to using representational items of tin and cinderblocks, the stunning décor amazed guests while also serving as a reminder of the event’s focus – the children of Haiti.

Caryl Stern, president and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, had this to say about UNICEF’s work in Haiti: “While we raised more than $70 million dollars for the emergency relief effort in Haiti, there is still much more that needs to be done. The money raised from this year’s Message of Hope Gala will help us in our mission to see that every child in Haiti has food, clean water, a bed to sleep in, the opportunity to attend school, and that no child will die from a preventable disease.”

After enjoying the raffle, auctions, dinner and speeches, guests celebrated their contributions to a great cause by dancing to the sounds of Stitely’s own 312 Chicago band. This gala is unique as it is one of the few UNICEF events in which attendees are able to end the evening with the uplifting action of dance.  It’s truly a Message of Hope!

So now you may be asking what’s next for UNICEF? How can I help? Well, Elisabeth turned us onto their latest endeavor, the TAP Project (sorry for the pun). Based on a simple, tangible concept, the UNICEF Tap Project was given life three years ago. Limited to just New York City at the time, restaurants asked their patrons to donate $1 or more for the tap water they usually enjoyed for free. With 300 restaurants participating in its inaugural year, the UNICEF Tap Project raised $100,000 and helped to provide four million children in Laos, Iraq and Angola with access to clean drinking water. This week (3/20-3/26) is World Water Week and dining in a participating Chicago restaurant—and donating $1 for the tap water you would normally receive for free—is a great way to help UNICEF provide lifesaving water and sanitation to kids around the world. Go to http://www.tapproject.org/restaurants/ for more information.


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Delivering a mind-blowing musical performance at an event is an art and planning it is a science. Stitely Entertainment has mastered both by planning and executing thousands of events.

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