Leslie Hawke Halloween Ball Bucharest October 2005


Leslie Hawke’s Halloween Ball in Bucharest for OVIDIU ROM (October 2005) is supported by the Honorary Consul of Romania in Boston, also a Board member of the Alex Fund (USA see) founded to support Hawke’s Romanian programs.

Halloween Ball to raise funds for deprived children and mothers

Ana Maria Iancu
Bucharest Daily News – September 14, 2005

On October 29th the Ovidiu Rom humanitarian organization will host an exciting fundraising event, which will bring together Hollywood stars like Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy as well as local VIPs.
The Halloween Ball will be held at the People’s Palace in Bucharest and is intended to be for anyone who loves Bucharest, celebrating and helping people in need. By this fundraising event, the Ovidiu Rom foundation hopes to raise awareness of the importance that all children in Romania get an education. Bucharest Daily News spoke to the foundation’s president, Mrs. Leslie Hawke about the upcoming event

This is not the first charity event put together by a humanitarian organization. How are you trying to make it special?
It’s not the first, but it is probably the most extensive!  It’s actually a series of four events – a movie premiere on Friday, October 28 for people who love independent film, a book reading on Saturday for people who love literature, a Ball on Saturday night for companies and individuals who want to support education, and then last but not least, the After Party for young professionals who want to go clubbing and support a good cause at the same time.

In just a few words, for our readers who haven’t yet discovered what Asociatia Ovidiu Rom does, and what the aim of the Gata, Dispus si Capabil (“Ready, Willing and Able”) programs is, can you tell us some things?
I developed these programs for severely impoverished children and mothers as a Peace Corps volunteer with the Fundatia de Sprijin Comunitar (FSC) in Bacau in 2001.  We have a whole network of projects to help children get into school and stay in school and to help their mothers find and keep employment.  My biggest goal with this event is to sensitize people to the importance of making sure that ALL children in Romania are getting a decent education.  There are still too many children who fall between the cracks in the Romanian educational system.

Who will this ball bring together? Who are the people you can count on?
I’m counting on diversity – and young civic-minded professionals! Over half of our organizing committee members are Romanian born, though several have been educated abroad.  The others are from Australia, South Africa, Canada and the US.  We also have a non-partisan Honorary Board comprised of the Prefect of Bucharest, the spouses of political leaders from the major parties and other civic leaders.

How will the fundraising be accomplished, and where will the money go?
Right now we directly help about 100 impoverished women and over 400 children to raise their standard of living through education and employment.  Since 2001 USAID has been our primary funder, but our last USAID grant ends in March 2006.  If we are going to continue these programs we have to raise that money some other way.  Today there are plenty of companies, both Romanian and multi-nationals, that are making money in Romania.  And a lot of them sincerely want to give back and help Romania’s economy develop a firmer foundation.

That’s one of the reasons that we are having a huge After Party.  I want to get young professionals who might not be inclined to attend a sit-down dinner, the pleasure of participating in a major charity event.

The event will take place in one of the most controversial places in Bucharest, is there a message to go with this?
Yes, I know a lot of Romanians are uncomfortable with what the building stands for, but I think it’s high time it started standing for something else.  It is a WONDERFUL venue for a big bash like this. 

How did you manage to put the ball together in this building? 

No one was more surprised about our being able to use the building than I was! I figured we could never afford to rent the space or be able to get the approvals.  But we went to see the people in charge – and they turned out to be incredibly accommodating!   The next thing we knew, The Daily News ran a spot on it and we were getting phone calls from companies that wanted to participate.  

Will there be prominent expat figures involved in this event? How do you intend to raise awareness of expats about your work at the foundation? If you had to transmit a message for expats living in Romania, about their possible involvement in this, what would that be?
Yes, there will certainly be a lot of expats at the event.  And I’m counting on Americans in particular to lead the way with some fabulous costumes!  In terms of awareness, I think the work of my organization is pretty well known among expats.  We are a member of AmCham and American companies were our first donors.  If it weren’t for the people at Coca Cola, Citibank, and the Hilton Hotel, FSC’s Community Award Dinners in Bacau which I helped to start in 2001 would probably never have gotten off the ground!  So I am really grateful to Bucharest’s various expat communities.

But most of all at this stage I want to attract Romanian business people, and especially young professional Romanians, because they are the future of Romania – and the future of NGOs is going to be in their hands.

Tell us some things about the Costume Contest.
Loredana, Ethan and Bryan Jardine will head up the Costume Jury.  We are working on getting a fabulous trip as the first prize.  Some people have told me, oh you’re never going to get Romanians to dress in costume, but I think they’re wrong, and I know that Ioana Tariceanu and Mihaela Geoana are planning to come in costume.  There are a number of places where people can rent outfits – the Opera House, the National Theatre, movie studios.  I’ve always made my own before, usually at the last minute, but I’ve already reserved a glamorous one for the Ball.   People will also be able to rent masks at the door.

Which  VIPs from Romania are you bringing in? Can you give us some exciting names?
We expect to have all the Pro TV personalities, Andreea Esca, Teo, Cristi Tabara, as well as key people in Romanian theatre and film like Ion Caramitru and Alex Darie.   We’ve also been extremely fortunate in getting a group of wonderful and accomplished women involved in the event, including the Prefect of Bucharest Mioara Mantale, Cristina

What objects will you offer at the Silent Auction?
We will have both a very large silent auction and a limited, but very exciting live auction, but the actual items are a secret at this point!  TV personalities Teo and Cabral will be the auctioneers, as well as George Copos, Mihaela Geoana, and Ioana Tariceanu, to name a few.

How exactly is your son involved in this event?
He’ll be on the Teo Show on Friday, October 28; he’ll do a Q&A after the movie premiere on Friday night; he’ll do a reading on Saturday and then he’ll speak on Saturday night.  Of course, he may never speak to me again after it’s all over, but I can’t worry about that now!

For those who want to get involved in this event, can you please tell us how they can do it?
They should email my assistant, simona@ovid.ro  or call our office at 021-315-8806 or visit our website: www.halloween.ovid.ro

This is the first annual fundraising event you are putting together. Are you nervous about it? How do you think it is going to be? Are you confident there will be a similar one next year?

It’s the first fundraiser I have done in Bucharest but I’ve done lots of them in the U.S. as well as the FSC’s first Community Awards Dinner in Bacau.  Doing an “event” is always completely exhausting and mildly terrifying – because there are always so many unknown factors.  To be perfectly honest, I’d rather be working on the programs!  But staging events is the most consistent and reliable way for a small organization to raise money from individuals and companies – and to raise public awareness.  And yes, I expect there will be another one next year.  Doing events is a lot like having a baby, you forget the pain as soon as it’s over.

High society enjoys Halloween ball for a good cause
Bucharest Daily News – October 31, 2005 by Laura Lica

The Halloween Charity Ball, organised to raise funds for the “Ready, Willing and Able” program run by Leslie Hawke, gathered the crème de la crème of local and expat society, under the golden roof of the Parliament building on Saturday night.

Narcisa Cumpana was never sent to school by her parents. Her gypsy community doesn’t encourage children, especially girls, to spend too much time learning how to read and write, because, as the gypsies’ king, Cioaba, says, knowledge could lead to too much independence for their traditionalist society.

So, instead, Narcisa started living with a man and had her first child at 17. At 20 she had her second child. She would often beg at street corners to be able to bring her children a loaf of bread.

But all that was happening 4 years ago.

On Saturday night, Narcisa was up on stage, at the Halloween charity ball, organized to support the “Ready , Willing&Able” program, initiated by Leslie Hawke, telling her life story, in crystal clear English, so both local and foreign  VIP’s present would understand her message.

With a slightly trembling voice, she went over the more recent developments in her life. How she found out from her mother, who found out from a woman she met when getting free food from the social center, that there’s a program which helps young mothers keep their children from begging in the streets, helping them go to school and stay there, learn a craft, and get a job.

Narcisa took what seemed to be such a slim chance and made the best of it.

She met the United Kingdom’s Ambassador Quinton Quayle, U.S. Charge D’Affaires Mark Taplin, Romania’s Prime Minister, Calin Popescu Tariceanu, Foreign Affairs Minister Mihai Razvan Ungureanu, Defence Minister Bogdan Atanasiu, Vice prime Minister George Copos, and Social Democrat leader Mircea Geoana. Dozens of other representatives of the media and the world of entertainment as well as local and foreign VIPs listen to her in amazement.

Her story went on, from her humble beginnings to how, after joining the program, she had traveled to the United States, took an intensive English course, learned to be a teaching assistant and now dreams of completing her studies and becoming a teacher.

She was articulate, feminine, modest and presented her story with such simplicity, that she won the audience immediately. Proof enough, was the parade of extravagant costumes; black feathers, long silk gloves and diamond jewelry which passed her table congratulating her.

The luxurious ball room in the Parliament building where the charity event took place was full of people who wanted to support the program which has brought such a huge change to the lives of 60 families so far. 60 gypsy families who are now off the streets, off begging, off eating at the mercy of people passing by.

For them, and for more to come, the evening continued with a silent auction- where the only item no one auctioned for was a caricature of Copos-and with paintings being among the most successfully auctioned items, including a couple of portraits of Ethan Hawke and children in the “Ready Willing&Able” program.

Then, the approximately 4-500 guests went on and enjoyed a live auction presented by local TV stars Teo and Andi Moisescu. After trying their best to encourage the public to take more money out of their pockets Teo and Moisescu barely sold a 1200 euros Nemtoi glass vase for 750 euros.

But later on, Teo auctioned the 50 grams gold necklace and earrings she was wearing and got over 2000 euros for the set from a mysterious bidder, who also allowed her to keep her jewelry.

The sensation of the live auction was Ethan Hawke, who, after sitting quietly in his dinner jacket, behind his simple black mask, joined the auction announcing he was giving 100 euros to dance with Alexandra Tinjala, a lovely young, blonde organiser.

Hawke revived the entire auction, because the presenters picked up the idea and started auctioning dances.

As quickly improvised rules said no one can refuse a dance, women started auctioning to dance with Ethan Hawke, men started auctioning to dance with other men’s wives, then a Gorilla auctioned to dance with Superman, or maybe it was the other way around, a zebra announced he would give 500 euros to dance with another zebra, and, the already famous expat singers and Coyote Ugly bar owners Bryan Jardine and his brother Jack took over a lot of the live auctioning and the show.

After 23 00, when the whole showing your costume/evening gown, eating and auctioning part ended, the dancing started. From Loredana to famous songs from the ’60s to the ’80s and 90’s, no type of music escaped the Halloween frenzy and the partying crowd of expats and locals enjoying themselves for a good cause.