Room to Read Singapore Annual Gala: W Hotel, Sentosa Cove

One of the things I have enjoyed doing at the office is pro bono and community work. Although billable work does take priority, I am happy to say that the firm I work for is generally supportive of lawyers volunteering their time to help NGOs and charities. 

Recently, I was honoured to be able to attend Room to Read's Annual Gala here in Singapore. Hosted at the W Hotel in Sentosa Cove, it was a black tie affair with a silent and live auction, and full of generous spirit. 

The theme was "Mission Possible: 10 Million Children by 2015", with presentations by founder, John Wood (who left a corporate career at Microsoft to start Room to Read), and Shabnam, one of the graduates of Room to Read's Girls Education Program in India. 

With so many charities out there, one of the most impressive things about Room to Read is their transparency with data collection, monitoring and reporting, so investors know what projects and outcomes their contribution is going towards.

The silent auction was a really fun way to generate donations: guests are given unique chipped cards on arrival and you insert your card into a hand-held device which identifies you as the bidder, key in the item number you are gunning for and make your bid. All of the items were donated by various corporate enterprises, and included some amazing experiences such as wine tours, hotel stays and ski trips. Guests were also given numbered paddles to use in the live auction, hosted by the talented Jehan Chu of Vermillion Art Collections

As the evening unfolded, we were treated to a four course meal, accompanied by wine. Given the huge ballroom of guests to feed, I was not expecting culinary magic and, as it turned out, the dishes were hit and miss. The braised lamb was tough rather than tender, however, the meringue dessert was delicious! In the end though, the focus of the night was all about Room to Read's projects to improve literary and gender inequality in developing countries.  

The Gala was designed to make the guests feel like "secret agents of change", and I have to say, we certainly left the ballroom feeling optimistic. While I think having a big one-off event like this is a great way to raise awareness (and funds), the evening was also a strong reminder of how lucky we are and how each of us, individually, can make a difference in the world (and not just once a year!).

xx Amanda 


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