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World Refugee Day
International Services Center Benefit
Saigon Plaza June 20, 2012

A refugee is a person who flees their home country due to a "well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion."

Today, there are an estimated 11-12 million refugees in the world. This is a dramatic increase since the mid-1970s when there were less than 3 million refugees worldwide. The end of the Cold War and the end of regimes that kept social order led to the dissolution of countries and changes in politics that led to unbridled persecution and a huge increase in the number of refugees.

Each year the International Services Center (ISC) provides resettlement services to refugees. They may have lived in a refugee camp for the past 5 to 10 years. They may have been separated from their family members. They come to Cleveland to find a home and begin a new life. ISC is there through the entire process of transition to life in America. It has been providing these services for 96 years with competence and compassion!

On World Refugee Day 2012, a benefit was held at Saigon Plaza in Cleveland to gather support for ISC so they can meet the needs of refugees assigned to Cleveland as they help them become productive Americans and add to the vitality of Cleveland.

Karen Wishner, executive director of the International Services Center in Cleveland spoke about the plight of refugees on World Refugee Day. The 2012 motto is 'Refugees have no choice. You do.'

Karen Wishner, executive director of the International Services Center in Cleveland

Karen Wishner, Executive Director of the
International Services Center in Cleveland






Karen Wishner, executive director of the International Services Center in Cleveland

The evening also included a presentation from GiaHoa Ryan, Executive Director of Saigon Plaza, the host for the evening.

GiaHoa Ryan, Executive Director of Saigon Plaza

GiaHoa Ryan, Executive Director of Saigon Plaza


Ken Kovach, Board Chairman of the International Services Center, spoke about the needs of ISC and how the public can help.

Ken Kovach, Board Chairman of the International Services Center

Ken Kovach


Marty Gelfand, representative of Congressman Dennis Kucinich, read a proclamation re World Refugee Day.

>Marty Gelfand, representative of Congressman Dennis Kucinich with Gia Hoa Ryan and Ken Kovach

Marty Gelfand, Gia Hoa Ryan and Ken Kovach


>Marty Gelfand, representative of Congressman Dennis Kucinich with Joe Meissner, Gia Hoa Ryan and Ken Kovach

Marty Gelfand, Joe Meissner, Gia Hoa Ryan and Ken Kovach


The evening's entertainment was provided by the award-winning band Harmonia. Harmonia plays the traditional folk music, on authentic folk instruments, of eastern Europe, ranging from the Danube to the Carpathians. Its repertoire reflects the cultures of this region: Hungarian, Slovak, Ukrainian, Romanian, Croatian and Gypsy.

Harmonia

Harmonia


Harmonia


After the wonderful and diverse foods at dinner (from Aladdin Bakery, Blackbird Baking, Kan Zaman, Li Wah, Saffron Patch, Saigon Plaza, Sweet Melissa's, Steve Pizza and Taste of Kerala) an auction was held. Jewelry designer Maria Pujana donated a $500 necklace she designed for the auction.

Gia Hoa Ryan and Maria Pujana auctioning

Gia Hoa Ryan and Maria Pujana


Gia Hoa Ryan and Maria Pujana auctioning



The lucky high bidder was Joe Meissner.

Gia Hoa Ryan,  Maria Pujana and Joe Meissner

Gia Hoa Ryan, Maria Pujana and Joe Meissner


Enjoy these other images from World Refugee Day at Saigon Plaza.

Councilman Dona Brady and Paramjit Singh

Councilman Dona Brady and Paramjit Singh


ISC Board Member John Grabowski

ISC Board Member John Grabowski


Laura Fruscella, Arooj Ashraf, Laurel Tombazzi and Maria Pujana

Laura Fruscella, Arooj Ashraf,
Laurel Tombazzi and Maria Pujana


Modelling the auction necklace

Modeling the auction necklace


Necklace on Joe Meissner

The necklace was not as attractive on Joe Meissner


Arooj Ashraf, Paramjit Singh, Pierre Bejjani and

Arooj Ashraf, Paramjit Singh, Pierre Bejjani and


Anila Nicklos and ISC volunteer

Anila Nicklos and ISC volunteer


Ken Kovach with Harmonia

Ken Kovach with Harmonia


ISC Board Members - John Grabowski, Ken Kovach, Anila Nicklos, Jim Craciun, Asim Datta and Executive Director Karen Wishner

ISC Board Members John Grabowski, Ken Kovach, Anila Nicklos, Jim Craciun, Asim Datta and Executive Director Karen Wishner


The International Services Center (ISC) needs your support to continue its good work. Please help out if you are able.



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