The FINANCIAL — American Friends of Georgia (AFG) continues promoting tradition of philanthropy and encouraging development of the culture of corporate social responsibility in Georgia and on March 30, 2019 at the Grand Sheraton Hotel is holding Annual Charity Gala “Restore Life”. AFG started introducing Annual Charity Gala event since 2006 and it has been marked as one of the most stylish, popular, successful charity events in Georgia.
American Friends of Georgia, Inc. (AFG) is a U.S. based non-profit, non-political public charity with tax exempt status. The organization’s mission is to provide practical humanitarian assistance to vulnerable populations of Georgia in order to improve educational, economic, social, medical and environmental conditions. AFG also supports efforts to preserve and promote Georgian art and culture.
AFG, was established in 1994 by prominent lawyer, environmentalist and New Yorker (from the family of Georgian immigrants from Georgian noble family of Sidamoni, whose principal branch ran the Duchy of Aragvi from 1578 to 1743.) Constantine Sidamon-Eristoff.
AFG advisory Board consists of Diplomats, businessmen, prominent (Georgian and American) artists and sportsmen. Among them are: former US Ambassadors: Richard Miles, Bill Kourtney, Kenneth Yalowitz; Othar J. Shalikashvili.
“When I was asked to run AFG by Constantine Sidamon-Eristoff”said AFG’s US Executive Director Marusya Chavchavadze (descendent of Alexandre Chavchavadze), ”one of the first project we become involved was Dzegvi street children orphanage. Since then, more than 25 years, AFG has been supporting the most vulnerable and needy population of Georgia. Among funded projects are: Dzegvi Shelter/Community; Bediani Village project, the first Hospice project, Palliative home care program, Parent’s House for leukemia children, Ecology school for children, Qedeli Community for disabled adults, Nikozi Education and Art Rehabilitation center, and lots of other interesting projects “.
Since 2006 when Georgian office was established American Friends of Georgia is cooperating with leading corporations and tries to raise profile of corporate social responsibility by engaging companies in social work. Traditional Gala events has become an annual event to unify different groups of people around the different social problem. “It is a part of our mission to promote philanthropy in the country “Lena Kiladze – AFG’s Georgian Executive Director stated -“ we believe that only together we can make a difference, that’s why we are partnering with companies, artists, business community, citizens, youth… Philanthropy is a culture and every single citizen (any age group) can become involved with passion, talent, professional experience, time, funding… Everyone can become a philanthropist “Everything you gave away is yours-everything you keep is lost forever” (Georgian poet says). All our projects are unique and important and as a non-profit organization we are trying to fill the niche between other big donors and government and support the projects that others pay less attention to.”
This year the goal of AFG’s Charity Gala is to support two most important projects—the Dzegvi Shelter Community and the Mercy Center Hospice and Home Care Program. The Dzegvi Shelter Community near Tbilisi started as an orphanage for street children in 1995. It was AFG’s big success story with 120 former street children growing up to full productive lives. Since 2010, it has become a shelter for people who cannot live independently or have nowhere to go such as mentally ill, disabled, former street children, poor elderly or abandoned single mothers with young children. Today Dzegvi shelters more than 80 inhabitants who live together as a community.
Thanks to active participation of companies and AFG partners American Friends of Georgia two years ago started the reconstruction of the Shelter building. The reconstruction will enable the Shelter to receive more needy people and start the rehabilitation and educational programs for the Shelter dwellers. The reconstruction is almost finished. The shelter needs equipment and funds for different rehabilitation programs.
“Since 2017 we started reconstruction of the Dzegvi shelter and it’s almost finished. Upon completion it will provide facility for more people and spaces for art rehabilitation and educational activities, which will help inhabitants to better integrate with society,” says Lena Kiladze.
The Mercy Center Hospice, Nursing School and Home Care Program was started by Abbess Mariam in 2003 with AFG’s assistance. This is the first hospice in Georgia and the only free hospice nursing school and home care program. The 7 in-patients are cared for in a small hospice next to the Transfiguration Convent. Nursing graduates care for over 100 chronically ill adults and terminally ill elderly in their homes.
“There is a great need of palliative home care in Georgia and great need of education of nurses in this direction. Support AFG is providing is crucial for Mercy Center,” Mariam Palavandishvili, new Director of the Hospice stated.
For March 30th AFG team designed a very special evening at newly re-opened Sheraton Metechi Palace Hotel with cocktail reception, live music and exclusive wines from Shumi vineyard – winner of International and Domestic awards. The guests will have unique opportunity to observe exceptional artworks : Photo collections of 20th century American photographer and glaciologist William Osgood Field who traveled in Georgia late 1920-ies and whose works are kept at the US Congress Library (Washington DC)-provided by Studio X Form; works of talented Georgian photographer George Kvavilashvili; unique collection of well-known Georgian fashion designer Lasha Devdariani’s textile costumes produced in collaboration with Vlisco’s designer, Gabriela Sancez y Sancez de la Barquera kindly donated by the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands H.E Jos Douma and his wife Aleid Douma.
Charity Auction includes the arts donated from the prominent Georgian and US artists: Mark Polyakov, Sasha Chavchavadze, Lado Pochkhua, Gia Gugushvili, Keti Matabeli, Mamuka Tsetskladze, Lia Shvelidze, Maka Gotsiridze, Mariam Shakarashvili, sculpture by Levan Bujiashvili, illuminated miniatures from Levan Margiani, cloisonné by Sopo Gongliashvili, and photos by Giorgi Kvavilashvili.
For the past few years, Gala events has been a wonderful, elegant event for our community, which helped us to support the neediest children and elderly. It has been made possible by generous sponsorship donations from corporations as well as AmCham, Diplomatic missions, prominent Georgian artists and musicians.
“Corporate Social Responsibility is very important and we can really see how this culture is changing from year to year, more and more companies are taking this as a challenge and becoming our partners in various projects. What we can wish is law on charity providing more incentives to the business community,“ says Lena Kiladze.