Howard County Times
Howard County

Fundraising party at St. John's Episcopal features henna, sitar and Bollywood

Intricately painted hands sparkled with colors and jewels on Saturday night as many in attendance at St. John's Episcopal Church's first Global Gala celebrated the event with a henna tattoo.

Sitting by the door in the lobby, Bhavna Naik, a henna artist, fashioned the temporary tattoos featuring flowers and swirly designs quickly and efficiently to the delight of those who sat for a minute.


"Aren't they fabulous?" said Cathy Hamel, as she admired her hand. "It will be there a week. I get to take the event home with me!"

As executive director of Gilchrist Hospice, Hamel was there as the representative for the corporate sponsor of the event.


"We couldn't be happier about being here," Hamel said. "Anything done internationally, we have an interest."

The gala at the Ellicott City church was a fundraiser to buy a ventilator for a hospital in the Diocese of Cuttack, India. Last October, a group from St. John's visited India to experience the people and the culture, according to Katie Martinez, a member of the Gala committee. A tour of the local hospital — where there were 16 births a day and only one ventilator — gave the group a new purpose.

"When we got there, the need was so great," Martinez said. "We identified a need. We came back to the United States to figure out how to raise funds for ventilators."

Working with other Episcopal churches in the area, the committee came up with the idea of an international gala.

"We wanted to expose everyone to India and its culture," Martinez said. "We also have outreaches in Kenya and Haiti. It [the gala] was a way to work within the community to motivate people to have an interest in outreach and all the aspects."

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About 150 people attended the event, which featured traditional Indian food as well as traditional music performed on a sitar and Bollywood dancing. Throughout the evening, photos from the October 2013 mission trip played on the walls. An international bazaar offered goods from India and Kenya while a live auction featuring a variety of donated items, closed the evening.

"It's wonderful," said Lisa Schmidt, who traveled from Falls Church, Va., to attend. "It's nice to come out and have fun and help out, too."

Sally Goss, a committee member, was happy with the event.


"I think it's great. We're pleased with the turnout," Goss said, as she showed her tattoo.

"I have to wrap it in toilet paper tonight than in the morning wash it," Goss said. "The stain will stay for several days."

Lasting longer will be the gala's benefits. Over $20,000 was raised Saturday night, according to Martinez on Monday —+ well over the $7,500 needed to purchase one ventilator.

"I was almost in tears. People were so generous," Martinez said. "We might actually end up getting two ventilators."