The evening began with a selection from Baha’i writings, read aloud by high school student, Samin Afnani. “The world of humanity is possessed of two wings: the male and the female. So long as these two wings are not equivalent in strength, the bird will not fly.”
A central and significant notion to kick-off Tahirih’s Inaugural Gala in the San Francisco Bay Area on Thursday, March 8 at the Crowne Plaza San Francisco Airport Hotel, the crowd of 150 was ready to experience a night of truth, courage, and action.
Angela Kinsey, actress and comedian from the popular sitcom, The Office, welcomed supporters, advocates, donors, volunteers, and staff as the first-ever Master of Ceremonies in the Bay Area. Taking her first steps on stage after an inspiring video showcasing the work being done and the clients being served, Kinsey addressed the room after a moment of heartfelt reflection.
“I spent much of my life living abroad and I have a deep belief that we are all a part of one human family. As one family, I believe we must work together to ensure that all are equal and free from violence of any kind. Being here tonight, during this moment in history, among all of you fighting for justice, truly inspires me.”
As the evening went on, Kinsey ushered guests through a game of Heads or Tails where raffle beads could be purchased for a chance to attend a taping of The Ellen DeGeneres Show or receive backstage passes to an Andy Grammer concert the following week. Also highlighted was an enticing Silent Auction complete with trips to Antigua, one-of-a-kind jewelry, and decadent artwork, all proceeds going directly toward Tahirih services.
The finale of the program, and a signature piece of every Tahirih Gala, was the Fund-A-Need segment when Kinsey asked guests to dip deep into their hearts and pockets to ensure courageous women and girls receive the protection they deserve.
“Tonight, we will stand here together and show our sisters that they are not alone and that they are entitled to safety and dignity.”
Kinsey shared specific services desperately needed by Tahirih clients including legal defense to seek asylum in the U.S., tailored social service case management such as crisis counseling and rental assistance, pay-as-you-go cell phones for women facing forced marriage, filing fees for child reunification, and interpretation services so that legal options may be explained in the language most comfortable. Hands shot up as guests pledged to give whatever they could to transform the lives of women and girls rebuilding their whole world in the wake of violence.
While the evening celebrated the tremendous, life changing work that has been accomplished in the Bay Area office’s first year, there is so much more that must be done to protect the lives of courageous women and girls who are changing the world. As Kinsey so passionately put it, “When these kids, and women fleeing unimaginable human rights abuses end up in our community, we have a duty to protect them and help them access the legal services and legal protection to which they are entitled under United States law.”
The call to action was heard, hearts were moved, and Tahirih’s devoted champions near and far stand ready to serve the women and children who need them now more than ever.