- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 18, 2006

CARE, the incredible global humanitarian organization that is in 70 countries, has turned 60. What started on May 11, 1946, with a boatload of packages containing canned meat, dried milk, coffee, chocolate and chewing gum arriving at Le Havre, France, to help war-torn Europe soon became one of the best-known and most successful charities in the world.

Like many of us, CARE is a baby boomer and has discovered important ways to “re-create” itself. In 1966, the famous stenciled CARE box, of which more than 100 million had been delivered, officially “retired,” but it has been revived several times, most recently in Bosnia.

Today, though CARE is still there for disasters beyond America’s shores, its main focus has shifted to helping the world’s poorest people break the cycle of poverty.

CARE’s yearlong 60th anniversary culminated with Wednesday’s ball at the Organization of American States, where CARE’s new president and chief executive officer, Dr. Helene Gayle, a pediatrician, HIV/AIDS expert and former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention epidemiologist, thanked patrons for continuing to show that “CARE is the symbol of American generosity, the symbol of hope for people around the world.

As often happens in Washington, the long-planned black-tie gala was sideswiped by world politics. With Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Prince Saud Al-Faisal, in town on the eve of “strategic dialogue” with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, several Arab ambassadors had to cancel their participation to attend an impromptu Arab summit with him at the Saudi ambassador’s residence.

Still, the ball was the most successful ever, pulling in $900,000 and attracting more than 600 patrons to the Organization of American States after dinners at 36 embassies. Co-chairwomen Franki Roberts, Diane Nelson, Deborah Dingell, Lynne Pace and Shirley Robinson Hall enthusiastically welcomed their corporate and embassy partners, members of Congress and longtime CARE friends along with a surprisingly young new batch of supporters dancing on until midnight.

Indian Ambassador Ranendra Sen and his clever wife, Kalpana, the ball’s international chairmen, along with ambassadors and spouses from Afghanistan, Angola, Argentina, Austria, Ecuador, Finland, France, Haiti, Hungary, Paraguay, Peru and Romania, were among those sighted for dessert, drinks and dancing.

“I’m familiar with CARE’s activities in India … of not giving handouts, but lending a hand to help people help themselves,” said Mr. Sen, a mere step away from the dance floor and just above the very enticing music of the Radio King Orchestra. He was quick to point out that among CARE’s top sponsors (along with U.S. companies Cargill Inc. and Nortel) was India’s ICICI Bank, “who gives AAA secure loans to microfinance Indian women’s groups, who have never once defaulted.”

India, he noted, “always gives more than it receives.”

Patrons Kathryn Leckey and Robert Best and Vera and Louis Emmerij danced energetically alongside such diplomatic dance pros as Austrian Ambassador Eva Nowotny and her husband, Thomas, and Ecuadorean Ambassador Luis Gallegos and his wife, Fabiola, while former Rep. Bob Livingston and his wife, Bonnie, formed their own quorum nearby.

Members of the Committee of Sixty, who had donated at least $1,000 as individuals or couples, included Esther Coopersmith, former Sen. John and Lois Breaux, Dennis and Susan Papadopoulos, Meredith and Peter Wellington, Debbie and Steven Epstein, Bobbie Godridge, Jay and Robin Hammer, Gerry and Sheila Katz and Annie Totah.

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