AWC of The Hague to hold 2nd annual fundraiser to benefit children with autism

The American Women’s Club of The Hague is organizing the AWC Hearts and Minds Gala 2012 at the Hilton's Mesdag Ballroom, on Saturday, 12 May 2012 from 18:15. Under the theme of “Lighting the Way for Autism,” the gala hopes to raise substantive funds to benefit youngsters with autism in the Netherlands. Members of the public are invited to attend.


Last year, a dedicated team of AWC volunteers put their hearts and minds together with the goal of lighting the way for autism. Gala Chair Jan de Vries recalls, “It seemed we all knew someone impacted by this life-long neurological disability that not only affects the individual, but hijacks the entire family. So we were determined to increase awareness of autism by bringing this heart-breaking disability to the attention of the public, and at the same time, raise substantive funds for our beneficiaries.” A total of €50.000 was raised, donated and divided equally between The Lighthouse and Stichting Papageno.


This year’s gala promises to be another sensational and very enjoyable evening with the return, all by popular demand, of the legendary van Hoytema Band; auctioneer, Pieter-Gerrit Binkhorst, of Onder de Boompjes Leiden, and Hilton Chef, Edwin van den Heikant.


We are also delighted to announce that Ivo Niehe (pictured right), chairman of Stichting Papageno and one of Holland's most respected television broadcasters, has agreed to attend our 2012 Gala and give a short presentation, adding a special note to this exciting evening.


For those unable to attend the Gala, which includes a prossecco reception with canapés and entertainment, we are offering reception-only partipation, providing an opportunity to meet with friends, take a sneak peak at the silent auction, and soak in the atmosphere.


Please visit the AWC website at to find out more.


Through the hard work of the AWC team, tremendous generosity from the local business community and support from the Lighthouse and Papageno we were able to realize our goals for this event, held in May 2011. In June 2011 Stichting Papageno and Lighthouse each received a check from the AWC for € 25.000 to assist with their most urgent requirements. There is still a long way to go before the wider public really understands the high incidence and devastating impact of autism on youngsters and their families.


Since its founding in 1930, the American Women’s Club of The Hague (AWC) has maintained a long history of fundraising for Dutch and international charities and organizations. Last year the AWC turned its focus to autism with the hope that their efforts will continue to raise public awareness and generate tangible support for this all to common and little-understood disability.


The Gala - An Evening of Fun
Our fundraising galas have always enjoyed wonderful and generous support from the local and international business communities and this year promises to be no exception. Through the generous sponsorship of the new Hilton The Hague, guests will enjoy the atmosphere of a beautiful, modern venue in the heart of the city. We have also booked the legendary van Hoytema band, lead by none other that Nanne van Hoytema himself. There will be fabulous food, valet parking and an exciting auction - all while raising funds for a cause that has become close to the hearts of AWC members and many local community members.


The Auction
One of the highlights of the evening will be the live auction conducted by auctioneer, Pieter-Gerrit Binkhorst of Onder de Boompjes auction house, Leiden. Through the very generous sponsorships from numerous local and international businesses we have assembled a unique collection including a 30-minute flight over Holland for three; a weekend’s use of a new Mini-Cooper; a four-hour session on an official flight similator, original paintings by John Proctor and Alberto Valentini, fashion, accessories, artwork, vacation destinations and other special items to be sold to the highest bidders, all while contributing directly to the gala beneficiaries.

About autism and the gala beneficiaries
Autism is a devasting, life-long neurological disability that not only affects the individual, but also hijacks the entire family. Today, estimates suggest that one in every 110 children will be diagnosed with autism, making it more common than childhood cancer, juvenile diabetes and pediatric AIDS combined. As Bob Wright, an American and the co-founder of Autism Speaks, has said: “Every 20 minutes - less time than it will take you to drink your coffee - another child is diagnosed with autism. It’s much more common than people think.” It affects four times as many boys as girls. No one knows what causes autism and presently, there is no cure. What is known is that early therapeutic intervention and education assists the afflicted children to lead optimal lives and, perhaps for some, to integrate into mainstream education and society.


The goal is to make a difference in the lives of autistic youngsters and their families in the Netherlands. Again this year, we have chosen to raise funds for Lighthouse Special Education, in The Hague, and Stichting Papageno, in Laren.


The Lighthouse is a unique school serving the international community. We now know that therapy and education can result in substantial life changes for children with autism and are critical for them to reach their full potential and be part of the community. It is extremely difficult for children with autism to learn in a language other than their native tongue. Offering a special education program in English, the Lighthouse is a critical Hague resource for English-speaking families with autistic children and presently, they receive very little funding.


Research also shows that music is an almost universally accepted method of therapy and communication, and for autistic children this has a significant, positive influence. Though it receives no government funding, Stichting Papageno, offers a variety of programs, projects, and activities featuring music therapy. It is a successful medium because almost everyone responds positively to at least some kind of music. Papageno was founded by Aaaltje van Zweden, wife of renowned violinist and conductor Jaap van Zweden who are parents to an autistic son.

Ticket Information
Tickets for this fundraising event cost €125 per person and include a prosecco reception, three-course gourmet dinner, silent and live auctions, live music and dancing. For more information about the AWC, gala tickets, the auction or to make a donation, please visit the website of the American Women’s Club of The Hague or contact us at


About The AWC
The American Women’s Club of The Hague is an all-volunteer, registered Dutch nonprofit organization. Donations to the Hearts and Minds Fund may be tax deductible. Visit the AWC website for more details


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