Hollywood comes to Namsan for charities

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Hollywood comes to Namsan for charities

With faux paparazzi flashing strobe lights off a red carpet, 337 glamorous guests experienced a Hollywood-style entry to the American Women’s Club of Korea’s annual charity ball last Saturday evening. With the theme, “Christmas with the Stars ― A Night in Hollywood,” the Grand Ballroom of the Grand Hyatt near Namsan Park overflowed with a spirit of giving and glamour.

The American Women’s Club of Korea is one of the oldest groups of expatriates in Korea. Since its foundation in 1965, the club has expanded, promoting friendship among members and with the Korean people. The club’s biggest event, now attended by members as well as non-members of many nationalities, is its annual ball to raise money to help local charities. And Americans in Korea make sure raising money for the needy comes with an occasion to dress up, enjoy a holiday meal and celebrate the season of giving in December. For this year’s extravaganza, the ball committee of five members, led by Lisa Ackerman and other volunteers, have been preparing for the event since May.
In her keynote speech, Lisa Vershbow, the wife of Alexander Vershbow, the U.S. Ambassador to Korea and the honorary president of the American Women’s Club, began by pointing out the benefits of the club, which “provides a network of support that is so helpful when living in a foreign culture.”
Stressing the increasing role of women in Korean society, she said, “The more I think about it, the more I see how similar Korean and American women are.”
After a toast proposed by Mr. and Mrs. Vershbow and Betty DeVita, the president of the American Club, the evening began. After a six-course dinner, featuring smoked salmon with ricotta cannelloni, baby leaves and sour cream, blood orange granite and lamb cutlets with asparagus, there was music from the Moon Band and a live auction for donated items, which included airline tickets, a carpet and a necklace made by Mrs. Vershbow.

But the real pride of the annual ball has been the amount of money raised and the total has been getting bigger each year.
Last year, the AWC raised 79 million won (about $79,000). By the end of the night, Joan Chumley, a committee member, was elated to announce that the ball raised over 100 million won in cash donations by sponsors, live and silent auctions and raffle ticket sales.
The proceed will go to local charities, including Arum village, Boystown Orphanage, Friends Without Borders and the House of John, as well as to fund scholarships for American students.

by Ines Cho
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