Verndell Gildhouse served on the board of the Ankara International Charities Committee for 13 years, including six years as Chair. He and other members of the board worked tirelessly to organize annual events including a fashion show, lunch, and sale of nearly new clothing; several black-tie balls; and Christmas bazaar – using their own personal funds to defray the costs of activities and to sponsor and visit projects. Other events included wine tasting evenings, murder mystery dinners, quiz nights, disco nights, and children’s games at the British Embassy School Ankara Summer Fair. One hundred percent of the money raised at each activity were used to fund projects.
During Verndell’s tenure on the board, AICC raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to support the needy in Turkey through well-run organizations. His experience in construction provided the expertise to move the committee to fund capital improvement projects. Contributions were used to purchase and/or repair school equipment (computers, projectors, copy machines, generators, etc.); provide libraries, community centers, music rooms, clothing, and structural improvements to buildings; support efforts to battle women’s illiteracy and unemployment in the poorest areas of Turkey; support and improve learning centers for the mentally and physically handicapped; provide equipment and educational opportunities for staff at centers and groups throughout Turkey; purchase state-of-the-art hospital equipment; and provide training and materials for centers looking after the elderly, and provide clean water systems, and wheelchairs. AICC’s project to renovate school classrooms to accommodate physically disabled students in public schools was the first project of its kind in Turkey.