Saturday, December 27th was a day where two ideas converged into a roaring success with benefits that will be felt on into the New Year, 2015. Hamsa Kurth Newmark, director of Bridge of Peace Syria, had a wonderful idea as she approached her 70th birthday; why not have a birthday celebration and have it be a fund raiser for our work to help Syrian refugee children?
With that in mind we got to work in November by putting together a “party planning committee” that consisted of dear friends of Hamsa’s and supporters of our work; included were Leilani Law, Dawn Newman, JoAnn Kaminsky, Deborah Coody, Ann Heffernan along with Hamsa’s sons Hari and Lawrence, daughter Rochelle and husband, Moshe.
Through the generosity of Richard and Gina Berquist, owners of Scarpinos Fayetteville’s beautiful premier venue, the location was secured. Ginny Masullo, friend and contributing columnist for one of our local newspapers, The Free Weekly, wrote a splendid article about Hamsa and her work with Bridge of Peace Syria and from there the word spread.
The creative talents of each committee member then went into high gear to plan for the decorations that included gorgeous flowers by Flora, food by Greenhouse Grille, Jose’s and Onyx Coffee Lab, a media presentation and much more. By 7pm on Saturday night over 150 guests began streaming in to see the Native American invocation of the Four Directions by Vela Giri and to enjoy the musical talents of Still on the Hill, Geoff and Leslie Oelsner, Adam Cox, Susan Shore and Michael Cockram and Rochelle Bradshaw with her band, Hypnotion. In addition, the spoken word was exquisitely performed by poets Doug Shields, Michael Heffernan and Moshe. Highlights of the evening included the candle lighting of a huge birthday cake provided by Deborah Coody and a live Skype from Turkey with Tamer.
At the evening’s end we had raised $2,400. This was matched by an anonymous $1,000 donation and the generosity of another anonymous donor for $1,600 which brought us to a grand total for the evening of $5,000, the goal Hamsa had hoped to reach.
Bridge of Peace Syria is so grateful for all the well wishes received by Hamsa and for the support this community has given and continues to offer for the work we do to support our Syrian brothers, sisters and their children in this dark time where the world has largely turned its head on the immense suffering faced by Syrian refugees. THANK YOU FAYETTEVILLE and NW ARKANSAS!