person Mary York
Photo by Mary York (Left) San Diego East County Camber of Commerce President Ben Kalasho makes a red carpet appearance with guests at the Royals Masquerade Ball Gift Card Drive on Aug. 18.
Beneath the incandescent lights of San Diego’s Gaslamp, at the Horton Grand Hotel in the heart of Downtown, masked guests gathered for the Royal’s Masquerade Ball Gift Card Drive.
Hosted by the San Diego East County Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce, the glamorous evening drew in more than 300 guests, each contributing a gift card to be distributed to homeless persons in San Diego.
“Not too many people do things for the homeless,” said founder and president of the Chamber, Ben Kalasho, who previously spearheaded the Chamber’s masquerade toy drives with his wife, Jessica.
Gift cards for the homeless replaced the toy drive event this year, Kalasho said this is because there is such a need in San Diego in the homeless community and not enough is being done to meet it.
Last November, the LA Times reported that San Diego’s homeless population has grown to be the fourth largest in the country and a recent Grand Jury report indicated that East County incorporated cities are not doing enough to help the homeless population residing within these communities.
Guests of the gift card drive were greeted at the entrance of the grand old hotel with a red carpet lined with photographers, leading towards an evening full of dancing, drinks and hors d’oeuvres. A live DJ kept the air full of life and a exotic snakes kept guests entertained as they posed over the shoulders and around necks in front of the myriad of flashing cameras. Acrobats, contortionists, stilt walkers and dancers flitted about adding gaiety and grandeur to the marvel.
“I’m a believer in having fun doing anything as long as there is a noble cause behind it,” said Ben Kalasho. “It’s important because giving back to the community sounds boring for most people, so we put on an event that’s extravagant and over the top and at the same time we’re helping people.”
After the initial frivolities, attendees drew in to see the evening’s two main attractions. A fashion show, by Ionica Moldovianu, paraded down the center of the patio in a stunning display of elegance. The ensemble was followed by the hairstylist contest, featuring designs from local artists, with breakthrough stylist Michael Harris winning the coveted award of Best Hairstylist 2016.
Powerful and feminine, Moldovianu’s designs freshened the warm evening. Each piece of the summer line, sleek and chic, literally inspired its own breathless applause. They seemed to carry with them the last glories of a rich summer.
Moldovianu’s impeccable talent found a good place to preen at the Royals Masquerade since her own line features its own humanitarian aims like using environmentally friendly fabrics. Moldovianu is an Ambassador for War Child and says she believes strongly in helping others and being a positive influence in the community.
Donations collected at the ball will not just go toward helping the homeless of San Diego, said Ben Kalasho, but in establishing relationships with the homeless community to better understand their needs and how we can help.