November 2016, Shawn Marcil and the GGB Team
The weather was perfect, a balmy 16°C for early November in Edmonton. The golden throne of the Emperor’s Palace still held its appeal for new and recurring guests as they can’t help but strike a pose for pictures throughout the night. And the row of tables lined with amazing silent auction items beckoned the guests as they walk in.
As the first dishes of the night were served, we were drawn to the stage by the latin sounds of the talented Flamenco guitarist, Harry Knight. His playing is so mature that it’s hard to believe he’s only 9 years old. One of the guests had seen Harry play with Juno-nominated Greek guitarist, Pavlo in a concert, and was looking forward to hearing him at our dinner. Harry and his father live in Calgary, and it was an honour for GGB to have them both drive up just for our dinner.
We heard a moving speech from Susan Balcaceres, GGB’s CEO, midway through the dinner that gave us a background into why GGB was founded. She recounted her experience of poverty. As a child of 5, her parents gave up everything to escape their country that was in turmoil so their children can have a chance at a better life elsewhere. Their small boat was stuffed to the brim with other refugees. It wasn’t long before there was a shortage of food and water. The boat drifted for days under scorching heat, unforgiving waves, and the constant fear that all of them could drown from the waves, or kidnapped, raped or killed by pirates. Eventually, they were rescued by the US Navy. One of her rescuers had given her a small apple and a balloon. Such a small act of kindness from a stranger made such lasting impression on her, that she has surrounded herself with like-minded people in order to give back to others who are less fortunate than her.
The performance from the Desert Rose bellydancers topped off the evening just as the last of the 8 dishes were served. Their dances captivated, and they thoroughly entertained the guests as they circulated and interacted with them.
The evening was such a great success due to a number of people: guests, donors, sponsors, and all our special volunteers who did so much up to the end of the evening. Lucy Carvalho and Mostafa Moharram were our fantastic MCs of the evening. Mr. Brian Duoc Cao is our very talented photographer who captured some amazing moments from the evening. Sandra Oliver, Thelicia Chen, Moon Trueman, Lucy and Dave Carvalho, Janan Jomha, Cristina Para, and Jack Nguyễn just pitched in to help wherever they see the need. And of course, we can’t forget our youngest helpers – Mateo Balcaceres, Joshua Trang, Madison Lupul, Xaraia and Inara Marcil – who helped guests find their seats as they come, and who eagerly sold 50/50 tickets and raffles.