- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 15, 2002

Generations X and Y helped CARE "step into the future" at the relief organization's 56th annual ball at the Organization of American States Friday night. The influx of younger ballgoers adored whooping it up to the sounds of big-band music with their elders. The generational divide if one existed occurred only at the bar, where the junior set tended to pass on champagne and white wine in favor of cosmopolitans and other trendily flavored martinis.

The black-tie event allowed fans of the charity both old and new to dine, dance, toast its efforts and, of course, to give: The night raised more than $500,000 for food and medical supplies that CARE will provide to needy recipients worldwide.

"There is tremendous enthusiasm from everyone," said Peter Bell, president of CARE USA. "This is our first post-September 11 ball, and people are searching for hope and tolerance. It has reaffirmed that people have a special affinity for CARE."

About 500 guests attended the event, including Sen. John Breaux and his wife, Lois, one of this year's co-chairwomen; Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (whose wife was a co-chairwoman as well); Food for Peace Director Lois Landis; former Rep. Robert L. Livingston; and a sizable contingent of military brass, businessmen and CARE officials. About two dozen ambassadors and their spouses also were present after having hosted intimate pre-ball dinners in their homes.

Everyone had words of praise for CARE.

Indian Ambassador Lalit Mansingh said his country and CARE "grew up together."

"CARE helped tackle poverty in India," he said. "When we were hit by an earthquake, CARE was in the forefront."

As usual, the embassy dinners made a huge impression on the guests.

Harry L. Geller, president and chief executive of Deutsche Post Global Mail, an international mail-services company, said he had never previously attended a private dinner at an ambassador's residence.

He was "ecstatic" to be aligned with CARE, he said after noting that his company, a ball sponsor, had announced earlier that day that it would be shipping 1,000 tons of wheat flour to war-torn Afghanistan.

Swedish Ambassador Jan Eliasson had passionate words of praise for the international charity as well. He recalled an earlier time in his career when he worked for the United Nations and saw firsthand the work CARE did to help alleviate famine among Kurdish refugees.

"Why would I want to have 20 people over for dinner?" he asked. "Because when I close my eyes, I remember Somalia and northern Iraq."

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