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GenR:NY Force for Change Photo Exhibition and Reception

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By: Samiha James

On December 1, GenR members and friends came together at Drift Studio to support the work of the IRC.

Event Co-chairs Raj Gorla, Jacqueline Schoninger, and Paul Nouri at the event. Photo: Getty Images for IRC

The ambiance of the event was lighthearted and fun. Groups of friends chatted over caramel popcorn and Sam Adams while bidding on unique auction items. Although it was a cheerful event, we knew the night's message was of the utmost importance. We were brought together because of our shared dedication to supporting refugee girls. All of us wanted to help them gain the tools and confidence they need to build a bright future.

GenR: NY Leadership Committee member, Chef KPE, prepared an inventive menu for the evening. Photo: Getty Images for IRC

Photo exhibitions are a dime a dozen in Chelsea, however, the subjects of this photo exhibition made it more captivating than any exhibition showing that night. Hanging around us in the gallery were ten photos of resettled refugee girls between the ages of 11 and 17. The photos were a part of The Vision Project. Through this program, workshops are put together to empower refugee girls and build the confidence and knowledge they need to pursue education and job opportunities. They ask each girl, "What do you want to be when you grow up." The IRC then provides a roadmap to make those dreams realities.

The room fell silent as Edwige Assongba, a graduate of the IRC’s Leaders in Training program, took the microphone to speak about her experience coming to the United States. She came here feeling timid, but then flourished thanks to the IRC's program.

By night’s end, the event had raised more than $28,000 for the IRC, a new record for our NY chapter’s December event. Not only was it an inspiring night that highlighted all the good the IRC does, it also reaffirmed our commitment to be a force for change.

Thank you to the night's generous sponsors:

Leader Sponsor:


Humanitarian Sponsor:


Activist Sponsors:

Ground Truth and the Aibtikar Foundation

In-Kind Sponsors:

Drift Studios, Greenwich St. Jewelers, HOTPANnyc, Lush Cosmetics, ONEHOPE wine, Sam Adams, VERDI & sparkeltini.