Karina Tarsadia, 17, a student at Sage Hill High School in Newport Coast, was honored by Illumination Foundation, a nonprofit organization with the mission to disrupt the cycle of homelessness, at the organization’s inaugural Women’s Philanthropy Luncheon and Festival of Trees on November 11 at the Historic San Clemente Cottage in San Clemente.
Tarsadia was inspired through service trips to Cambodia, India and Africa to help others. In 2019, she created, with nonprofit partners, Karina’s Backpack Project, to provide backpacks with school supplies, groceries, and food to low-income families.
In 2021, Tarsadia provided 15,000 backpacks to students throughout Orange and Los Angeles counties to celebrate the back-to-school experience and equip young students with the necessary supplies to begin the school year.
Tarsadia created a backpack drive for Illumination Foundation and delivered 250 backpacks to ensure the vulnerable children in Illumination Foundation programs started the school year off right.
“I am overwhelmed with gratitude to be recognized today,” said Tarsadia. “I would like to thank all of the team, partners, volunteers, sponsors, and schools who helped make Karina’s Backpack Project a success from the beginning. My inspiration comes from my grandfather, who started out family foundation as a way to pass down values of service and entrepreneurship. He always told me, ‘It doesn’t matter what you are doing as long as long you are doing it from your heart.’”
The event featured inspiring women including guest speaker Hollywood Motion Picture Talent Agent Tracy Brennan and Illumination Foundation Executive Director of Healthcare Services Pooja Bhalla.
“There has been an increase in the number of women experiencing homelessness coming through our programs, especially single moms and senior women,” said Bhalla. “We provide them housing and healthcare services to address their complex needs. This event highlights the barriers women experiencing homelessness face as well as celebrates our female frontline staff and honors community supporters.”
The event also showcased a “Festival of Trees,” decorated Christmas trees that were auctioned off at the luncheon to raise money to support Illumination Foundation’s programs and services.
For more information, visit https://www.ifhomeless.org.