Spring Luncheon 2018


Children’s Hope India held its very popular annual women’s luncheon on Wednesday, May 9, 2018, at the Carltun at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow, New York. The funds raised at this year’s luncheon will benefit Children’s Hope India’s educational programs for the girl child in India and the New York Metro Area.  The event was attended by approximately 300 supporters, including renowned fashion designer Anita Dongre (House of Anita Dongre), who is set to open up a brand new flagship store in Manhattan.

While India can claim improvements in recent years in terms of enrollment in its schools, girls are still underrepresented proportionally. After primary schooling, which is provided free by the government in India, many girls give up their education due to limited resources, household chores, having to babysit siblings, or an early marriage. For every 100 girls in rural India, only a single one reaches class 12, and almost 40% of girls leave school even before reaching the 5th standard. This has an enormous impact on the girl child given the ties between education and health and prosperity. Through its support of several schools in India, including the newly opened Children’s Hope India Girls School in Bhopal (CHI’s first all-girls, English-medium secondary school which will educate up to 800 girls), two schools in Hyderabad and one in Jammu, CHI hopes to change the lives of hundreds of children, their families, and their communities.

A highlight of the spring luncheon is the Woman of Distinction Award, given to a woman who has managed to balance the challenges of the workplace, home, and social responsibility. This year CHI honored Divya Gugnani, a native Long Islander. Divya brings 20 years of investment and entrepreneurial experience to her role as Co-founder of Wander Beauty, a brand focused on multitasking beauty essentials created with global inspiration. Prior to that, she co-founded Send the Trend, an e-commerce site focused on personalized fashion and beauty, and sold it to QVC, where she focused on digital innovation. She is a serial entrepreneur and has co-founded multiple companies.

Divya spoke about five lessons she has learned as a mother and entrepreneur, summarized as the following: “1. Always be listening – there’s a reason we have two ears and one mouth…because we should listen more and talk less. 2. Intellectual curiosity is the single best indicator of success. If we want to grow intellectually, morally, socially, and spiritually, we need to ask questions and seek out our own answers. 3. Live life outside of your comfort zone. Being out of my comfort zone allowed me to survive, to evolve, and most importantly, to grow. 4. Self-motivation should be taught and encouraged. Those that are motivated by their own passion and drive create immense value in organizations. And 5. Spend time alone with yourself every day. Never forget to invest in yourself. This time alone will create happiness and peace within yourself that will then radiate to others around you.”  Representatives from Nassau County Executive Laura Curran’s and Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth’s offices were in attendance to issue proclamations to Divya at the luncheon.

Guest speakers at the luncheon included two women, Raahkee Mirchandani and Karuna Chani, who are champions of the South Asian #MeToo movement due to personal experiences, one in the workplace and one at the hands of a relative when she was a very young girl. Raahkee, who is a writer, editor and pediatric cancer crusader, pointed out that two out of every five South Asian women experience domestic violence or sexual assault in their lifetime, versus the national average of one in four. “Women feel as if they don’t have a voice,” she said, and encouraged the attendees: “Consider when you leave here today… think about breaking the cycle in whatever way you can.” Karuna, an internationally recognized make-up artist, pointed out the difference in being a child in the 1970s versus the 1990s or 2000s—how millennials have the benefit of education and awareness. “All we need to do is talk to our children. Boys and girls both…. I challenge you to talk to your children about the topics your parents weren’t able to speak to you about. Protect them. Save them. All it is is a one-on-one conversation.”

The spring luncheon is organized by the CHI benefit committee comprising of Babita Advani, Milan Devjani, Aarti Kamat, Moneesha Sani and Madhulika Shroff. It was coordinated by Jharna Jaisinghani of Artistic Affairs, and DJ Sharad provided the fun music for this lively event.

Some of the vendors who participated in the event include:

All Things Artistic offers you a complete collection of bespoke invitations, customized, curated gifts, as well as a wide variety of Indo-chic favors and gifts. Items are completely customizable, perfect for any event, style, or occasion, and range from delicate jewelry pieces to colorful invitations to gilded candles.

Lauren Cecchi New York is a luxury leather handbag and accessories collection launched in 2013. The classic designs are manufactured in New York City’s Garment District with selectively-sourced supple Italian leathers.

Monisha Melwani Jewelry is a fine jewelry line exuding casual luxury. The fine jewelry line combines sterling silver and gold with diamonds and semi-precious gemstones. Concierge services are offered for personalized, one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces.

ReeMat Designs handcrafted statement jewelry are influenced by the concept of east meets west.  Collections fuse the classic and contemporary, catering to a global clientele.  ReeMat collaborates with several artisans and workshops in India, Singapore and Morocco who bring our vision to life.

Shabnam H has curated a very special collection of Pret garments from some of India’s finest designers. When you are looking to make a statement or want to be revolutionary you think Gaurav Gupta. His collection includes sari gowns and sari blouses. The Payal Singal signature look is contemporary Indian clothing and translates effortlessly from Indian to Global.

Shawls by Sonika is an eclectic collection of shawls and stoles in luxurious Pashmina cashmere. Rich shades and hues make each wrap a unique and must have addition to your wardrobe that brings a touch of pizazz to any outfit!

Woman of Distinction Divya Gugnani with the members of the Children’s Hope India Board of Directors (from L to R: Nisha Bharwani, Maya Rajani, Radha Vanjani, Dina Pahlajani, Divya Gugnani, Sagorica Rudra, Lavina Melwani, Kavita Lund and Kavita Gugnani. Absent: Nami Kaur)

Woman of Distinction Divya Gugnani receives her award from Dina Pahlajani, President of Children’s Hope India (right), and Hanifa Mezoui, Senior Advisor, Humanitarian Affairs and Civil Society at the UN (left)

Guest speakers Raahkee Mirchandani and Karuna Chani with Luncheon Benefit Committee and CHI Executive Board Members (From L to R: Babita Advani, Milan Devjani, Aarti Kamat, Raahkee Mirchandani, Karuna Chani, Moneesha Sani, Dina Pahlajani and Kavita Lund)

Fashion Designer Anita Dongre with members of the CHI Executive Board (from L to R: Maya Rajani, Kavita Gugnani, Kavita Lund, Lavina Melwani, Anita Dongre, Dina Pahlajani and Sagorica Rudra)

CHI Executive Board Member Sagorica Rudra, Guest Speaker Karuna Chani, Guest Speaker Raahkee Mirchandani, CHI Executive Board Member Lavina Melwani, and Luncheon Benefit Committee Member Moneesha Sani

Luncheon Benefit Committee Members Aarti Kamat, Babita Advani, Moneesha Sani, Madhulika Shroff and Milan Devjani with Woman of Distinction Divya Gugnani

Shopping at the vendor tables

Luncheon guests in the Carltun dining room