Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Wellfleetian Organizes American Friends of Georgia Gala

Marusya Chavchavadze’s face lights up when she describes her work. Marusya is Executive Director of American Friends of Georgia (AFG) and a year-round resident of Wellfleet. Recently she organized a gala in Tbilisi to celebrate the non-profit’s 15th anniversary. American, European and Georgian corporations bought tables, many at the last minute. A 70-member jazz band provided atmosphere. A Canadian auctioneer convinced guests, from ambassadors to bank presidents, that they would not regret bidding on such items as paintings by Georgian artists and international trips. By evening’s end, AFG had raised $47,500. The money will be used to fund two worthy projects. The first sends Georgian children with leukemia to Germany for radiation treatment. The second provides vocational training for internally displaced persons, most of whom lost homes in Ossetia in 2008.

“Everyone said it was a very high-quality event,” Marusya told me proudly this weekend. “We’ve gotten to the point where people over there, in the know, realize AFG is doing something to help the most vulnerable populations.” She teams up with Lena Kiladze, who is Executive Director on the ground in Georgia. “We are trying to reintroduce the concept of philanthropy,” Marusya explained.

Looks like the two women are succeeding. This charity gala was quite the event, and several corporate donors, impressed by the level of press coverage, signed on for long-term relationships. One Israeli even suggested hospitals in his country should be considered as an alternative to travel to Germany ...

For more details, visit the AFG Web site. While there, how about making a tax-deductible donation? Marusya said she would be happy to hear from anyone who has friends on the boards of American foundations if you have already maxed out on contributions for 2010. Wellfleetians probably remember the colorful textiles sold in past years on behalf of AFG at Oysterfest and at the “Deck This Hall” crafts fair. It’s also possible to make a targeted donation, which will allow AFG to be present at such local events in 2011.