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Volume 6, Issue 95  | November 26, 2021

Illumination Foundation honors Sage Hill student Karina Tarsadia, founder of Karina’s Backpack Project

Illumination Foundation, a nonprofit organization with the mission to disrupt the cycle of homelessness, hosted an inaugural Women’s Philanthropy Luncheon and Festival of Trees on November 11 at the San Clemente Historic Cottage to illuminate the growing number of women experiencing homelessness in the community and recognize women who are making a difference. The event, which raised $226,550, featured inspiring women including guest speaker Hollywood Motion Picture Talent Agent Tracy Brennan, Illumination Foundation Executive Director of Healthcare Services Pooja Bhalla and Community Honoree Karina Tarsadia, Sage Hill student.

Illumination Foundation honors Tarsadia

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(L-R) Pooja Bhalla, executive director of Healthcare Services; Community Honoree Karina Tarsadia; and Dr. Jacque Dupont-Carlson, Illumination Foundation board chairwoman

“There has been an increase in the number of women experiencing homelessness coming through our programs, especially single moms and senior women,” said Pooja Bhalla, executive director Healthcare Services for Illumination Foundation. “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.” 

As of January 2020, there were more than 2,500 women experiencing homelessness in Orange County, up from 1,588 just three years earlier. 

Guest speaker Tracy Brennan is a talent agent at Creative Artists Agency and represents many of the world’s leading actors, including Kerry Washington and Rosario Dawson. Brennan spoke about how her success has been built upon self-reliance, hard work, commitment and never giving up, all while giving back to the community. 

Illumination Foundation honors Leon

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(L-R) Urvashi Tarsadia (Karina’s mother); Community Honoree Karina Tarsadia; and Paul Leon, CEO and president of Illumination Foundation

Illumination Foundation honored Karina Tarsadia, 17, founder of Karina’s Backpack Project (KBP), during the event. 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 our 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 you are doing it from your heart.’”

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. 

Illumination Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that provides targeted, interdisciplinary services for the most vulnerable homeless adults and children in order to disrupt the cycle of homelessness. For more information, visit

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