On April 30, 2015, World of Children hosted the inaugural Alumni Honors event in Beverly Hills. This event was created to recognize previous recipients of the World of Children for the way they leveraged their award far beyond what any of us could have anticipated — delivering even more profound impact for children. We congratulate you, Triveni Acharya, Dr. Ricardo Bennun and Jessica Markowitz — our 2015 Alumni Honorees!
Jessica is the founder of Richard’s Rwanda IMPUHWE, a program that she established at the age of 11 to ensure Rwandan girls receive the education they deserve in a safe and nurturing environment. Read Jessica’s story >>
Triveni has fearlessly led the way in fighting child trafficking, rescuing more than 4,000 child victims through her organization, Rescue Foundation. Last year, Triveni used World of Children’s funding to rescue and rehabilitate 171 girls trapped in brothels in India. Read Triveni’s story >>
Seeing the smile of a child is what inspires Dr. Bennun to go to work every day. Since receiving the World of Children Health Award in 2007, Dr. Bennun has performed thousands of surgeries free of charge for children with cleft lip and other facial deformities in Argentina. Read Dr. Bennun’s story >>
Brooke Burke-Charvet was a stunning Master of Ceremonies at the sold-out event at Il Cielo in the heart of Beverly Hills. Some 180 celebrities, Hollywood executives and leaders from Los Angeles’ most prestigious companies packed in to hear the stories of how our 2015 Alumni Honorees are changing vulnerable children’s lives everyday.
A special children’s choir from Carlthorp School opened our evening by singing the World of Children theme song. Entitled, “Can You Hear,” the song honors those who strive to give a voice to children who go unheard. It was written 19 years ago by Victor Alexeeff and Joe Ashley, the former being in attendance.
Grace Umutesi, whose secondary education was supported by Honoree Jessica Markowitz, took the stage to bravely tell of her story of survival and education in the post-genocide era. It was Jessica Markowitz that gave her the opportunity to succeed. “I never dreamed I would become the strong person I have become today,” Grace remarked. “Jessica’s support is why I can stand tall and be proud of becoming a strong, powerful woman.”
“Later I found out that World of Children was behind Jessica,” she continued. “She not only supported me financially but most importantly, emotionally. We have become sisters, bonded forever and I can never forget how she made my life meaningful.”
Afterward, Co-Founder Kay Isaacson-Leibowitz and Celebrity Ambassador Stephanie March surprised Grace with a grant to help pay for her college education.
Due to generous donations over the last year the World of Children Board of Governors was pleased to increase each of the Alumni Honoree grants from $25,000 to $40,000. To the surprise of the crowd, the 2015 Alumni Honorees announced they had unanimously decided to donate 10% of their grants to two Honorees doing important work saving children’s lives in Nepal, recently devastated by the earthquake on April 25. You can pledge your support on our Nepal Earthquake Relief page.
Guests welcomed the chance to unlock the future for children when given the opportunity to make a donation during dinner and receive one of our hand-crafted items of jewelry. Each piece was designed exclusively for World of Children by Adam Shulman and Heidi Nahser Fink of James Banks Design.
Co-Founder Harry Leibowitz closed the evening with an uplifting speech encouraging attendees to change children’s lives one by one, just like these real life heroes do everyday.
Congratulations to our remarkable 2015 Alumni Honorees! #RealLifeHeroes