AIF annual Virginia Gala raises over $60,000 for disability empowerment training

Gala Chairs Sanjay Mittal and Sunita Gupta lauded the generosity and the spirit of altruism in the Richmond community.

Honoree of the evening Dr. Bela Sood with the AIF Virginia Leadership Team (From left to right – Rupal Agnihotri, Nupa Aarwal, Dr. Bela Sood, Sunita Gupta, Sanjay Mittal)

American India Foundation (AIF) during its annual Virginia gala at The Science Museum of Virginia on Sunday, 17th September raised over $60,000 for the organization’s poverty alleviation work in India.

The gala honored Dr. Aradhana Bela Sood, a Senior Professor of Child Mental Health Policy, who was the Chair and Training Director of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond until 2014.

As a clinician, Bela Sood has upwards of 350 patients and consults with youth in the juvenile justice system. She has been on Richmond Magazine’s Best Doctors list since 1996 and has received VCU’s highest Distinguished Award for Service.

The focus of her current work is promoting resilience and prevention strategies in child mental health from a public health and collective impact perspective through inner-city programs. AIF Virginia’s Nupa Agarwal and Rupal Agnihotri presented the award to Dr. Sood.

AIF Ambassadors with ABLE program head (From left to right- Joshua Patel, Sarah Koclar, Ritanch Hans, ABLE Program Head Manish Kumar, and Venkatesh Raghavendra)

The event was also attended by about 160 guests, including some of Richmond’s top doctors, executives and investors, entrepreneurs and community leaders, including Lincoln Saunders – Chief of Staff, Richmond Mayor Office, Mitesh Amin – Partner James River Cardiology, Shannon Taylor- Henrico Commonwealth Attorney, Rebecca Gwilt – Partner Nixon Law Group and Stephanie Lynch – Director, Virginia Association of Health Plans.

The gala highlighted AIF’s Ability-Based Livelihood Empowerment (ABLE), which trains persons with disabilities and facilitates their entry into the job market through advocacy, thus promoting inclusive growth in India. Attendees were able to take a look into the lives of ABLE beneficiaries, to understand that people should be recognized for their abilities, not their disabilities.

from left to right – Farhat Hyder, Kamini Pahuja, Courtney Lynch, Shannon Taylor, Sunita Gupta

Gala Chairs Sanjay Mittal and Sunita Gupta lauded the generosity and the spirit of altruism in the Richmond community.

“When the Virginia Chapter was started, there were apprehensions about whether the Virginia Chapter will be able to deliver like other chapters. The very fact that we will be raising about half a million dollars in the last four years speaks volumes of the generosity of people in Virginia,” the Chair said. “People refer to Richmond as a Tier 3 city, and to see this many people show up, when Richmond has two other major cultural events pertinent to our community really shows the dedication to AIF and its mission.”

The event started with a lively cultural performance by local performance group Bhangre de Sher. The master of ceremonies and auctioneer was Arunima Abraham.

The evening also featured remarks by ABLE Program Head Manish Kumar and the sponsors of the Gala includes Dominion Energy, eHealthObjects, James River Cardiology, Agarwal Law Firm and Visitor Guard.

Read the full story here.

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