JustWorld Gala Raises More Than $500,000 For Children In Need

Members of the Youth Ambassador Gala Committee received awards for their involvement with JustWorld International.

Belle Herbe Farm was alive with fervent energy Friday, Jan. 27, glowing under an enchanting sky of blue and purple hues. Horses peered inquisitively out of their stall windows as the Wellington community began arriving dressed in long gowns and sharp suits instead of their usual breeches and tall boots. To welcome guests to the venue, Tom Blake strummed his acoustic guitar and serenaded their arrival.

A walk through the tunnel offered a moving glimpse into 20 years of action and the evolution of JustWorld International’s now thriving projects with a timeline of photos and stories. Everything from the food to the décor paid tribute to the JustWorld project sites in Cambodia, Guatemala, Honduras and the United States, highlighting the success of those who deserve recognition the most — the nearly 10,000 children who are supported by JustWorld.

Presented by Caryl Philips and Frank Zeiss, the 20th annual JustWorld Gala marked two decades of action, growth and the devotion of countless individuals from far and wide. After plating the flavors of the world, guests sat down to a dinner presentation, which kicked off with an awards ceremony. Emcee Steve Wilde called out the names of longtime JustWorld activists, like Jessica and Maria Newman and Hector Cano.

In a gesture of appreciation, 16 passionate members of the Youth Ambassador Gala Committee received awards for their substantial involvement in the organization. They recently helped to raise more than $30,000 for the End of Year Fundraiser in support of the Storybook Treasures program in Belle Glade.

The five project leaders each took turns at the podium addressing the crowd to share the impact first hand, and express their gratitude for the many years of cooperation in breaking the cycle of poverty in their communities. Project leaders included Pioneer Park Elementary School Principal Dr. Sandra L. Moreau, Denise Corbo of Storybook Treasures, Phymean Noun of Cambodia’s People Improvement Organization, Juan Pablo Romero Fuentes of El Patojismo in Guatemala and Sandra Yadira Sauceda Tercero of Honduras’s Asociación Compartir.

“At Asociación Compartir, with the support of JustWorld, we are able to help more than 3,000 boys and girls each year. They have access to books, nutritious snacks, recreational equipment, and are learning and developing their artistic skills through music,” Yadira Sauceda Tercero said.

The gala is the year’s keystone fundraising effort, securing a large part of the donations needed to support education, healthcare and nutrition interventions across these communities.

“We are humbled by the incredible outpouring of support from the equestrian community and grateful for the unwavering dedication of each and every sponsor, donor and ambassador who have helped make JustWorld a thriving nonprofit organization over the last 20 years,” Executive Director Eszter Kiss said.

Mixing in rousing entertainment, dressage star Anna Buffini treated guests to a heartfelt performance of “Rise Up” by Andrea Day. She was accompanied by Mister Trombone, a master of building the energy throughout the room.

JustWorld founder Jessica Newman couldn’t help but be reminded of the first JustWorld Gala, held in a humble tent around Belle Herbe’s familiar center fountain. Guests like Laura Kraut and Juan Andreas Rodrigues and his family, who attended the gala in its earliest years, are among the equestrians who today can appreciate the full scale of its impact.

“It’s a family and generational event. So, you see kids, parents, grandparents, everyone getting involved. The gala is also an opportunity to introduce new people to JustWorld, so they can learn about our mission and potentially get involved,” Newman said.

Established in 2003, JustWorld was founded to provide equestrians with a way to support carefully vetted education, healthcare and nutrition programs for impoverished children around the world. To donate, become an ambassador or learn more about JustWorld, visit www.justworldinternational.org or @justworldinternational on Facebook and Instagram.