Be the Cause

Evening in Africa comments

To all those attended, participated or inspired the Evening in Africa on Saturday, from the ‘depths of our being’, Thank You. Michele puts the mission of our work so beautifully: “Getting more and more people inspired into service to make the world a better place. I really believe that people are essentially good. Sometimes they just need an opportunity to put their feelings into action. ”

I think the below comments speak for themselves.

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From Michele:
Hey Everyone!
Hopefully, I’ll get the chance to say this personally to each one of you, but in the meantime, I really want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your thoughtful contributions to our evening in Africa. I love doing the evenings of awareness, but I think it might be a while until I’m as emotionally invested in one as I was for this one. My focus in life was changed forever by my trip to South Africa and I wanted the people who came to this event to leave with a positive feeling about a place I really love, and I think, thanks to you all, that happened. I’ve gotten several emails since Saturday giving us glowing reviews. The tables were set beautifully, everyone interacted with the guests and the panel was thoughtful, articulate, and real. Most importantly, Joanne and Alka made a lot of new contacts that will be able to support them in their work. Again, I’m so proud of this event, and I didn’t want any more time to pass without telling you all how much you all mean to me, and how I totally recognize that this event would never have been so successful with YOU! Enough with the mushy stuff. Now that you all know how to do this, be ready for Evening in India…

To Joanne with Tias Arms:
I’m very glad that this event went well. I had a lot personally invested in it. I really wanted people to come away with a good feeling about Africa. I’m really happy that you have made some new contacts. One of my friends from school, Maureen told me she is going to be doing her internship with you and a girl from South AFrica that I talked to on the phone before the event told me she met you and was going to start volunteerig with Tias Arms. That’s what its all about. Getting more and more people inspired into service to make the world a better place. I really believe that people are essentially good. Sometimes they just need an opportunity to put their feelings into action. I feel very priviliedged through my association with BTC to be able to create those opportunities and it’s been an absolute pleasure for Ben and I to support Tias Arms in whatever way we can. If I dont see you before, I’ll definately see you on June 11th at your fundraiser. Let’s hope we have many more opportunities to work together to inspire people into service. Much Respect, Michele


From Joanne Baker with Tias Arms
Dear Sukh, Michele and Be the Cause,
What an absolutely marvelous evening you put on Sat night. It was so heartfelt and personal. Not to mention beautifully planned and executed. I was so happy to see so many people there in response to your efforts. It was also wonderful to see your faces again and it brought back so many memories for me of our time together in S.Africa. I so admire each of you.
Michele and Sukh, your presentations were very touching and thought provoking. And the panel was so appropriate in answering from a “human” stand-point, your experiences.
Especially, I feel grateful on Tias Arms behalf for your continued partnering with us and for giving me the opportunity to tell folks about our focus in S.Africa. I think we made some good new contacts and I look forward to our continued growth together.
Take good care and thanks for all the work you do. Warmly, Joanne


From Elizabeth at African Well Fund:
Michele –
I want to thank you so much for inviting the African Well Fund to participate in last Saturday’s event. It was a wonderful night and we met so many great people. I think you could definitely call that event a success! Only 50 RSVPs, yet you had a full house! I hope we are lucky enough to have that for our World Environment Day event in June.
I hope that we can work together again someday. I’ve subscribed to the Be The Cause newsletter and I’m very interested in your organization as a whole. I really love your mission and have been spreading the word about you to everyone I know.
Take care!
Elizabeth Beech


From Alka Subramanian with Power of Love:
Hi Sukh, Mahsa, and Michele: Thanks for inviting me and my daughter to be a part of “An Evening in Africa”. The event was very well coordinated and I had a great time. I met with and chatted with many wonderful people.
Would love to get together sometime again soon.
With the power of love,


From Jason
Dear Michele,
I just want to sincerely thank you from the depths of my being for the wonderful event you helped to inspire and put on. I must be completely honest when I say I was BLOWN away and riveted by the eloquence of your speech and was extremely appreciative to have you tell the story of our S. African adventure…you did a fantastic job. Its not easy speaking in public, especially when you’re sick and you pulled it off with a perfect score of 10. We recognize and bow in gratitude. Kudos.
In Heart & Mind,


From Gianna
Hi Michele and everyone,
wow…again, Michele—ya did it again and I’m so proud of u and all of us…I really loved how u spoke about the trip and all, Michele…made lots of sense and just was spoken very eloquently.
Sonali, first of all…the slideshow you put together…beyond incredible…I really wanted to cry, but maybe not in front of guests at my table :) There was lots going on, so I saw pieces here and there…if some inspiring song was playing in background along with…like even some songs we heard in SA, that would’ve been the end of me :)
Anyhoo, update!! Fantastic!!! And you were very much presenced with that slideshow. I thought of you through it.
It was a full house!!! I didn’t know if there’d be enuff tables! Panel was neat, so was Makhososana’s dance, and just felt very festive and worthwhile…I could write more to you personally about event.

Just want to include everyone in how you were missed and how your slideshow was off the hook.
Hi again Michele and everyone…along with Jason, I was blown away…Michele, u also have a sense of authenticity that comes across that is very refreshing…Sukh, I liked your speaking too…and your story, plus humor oh and game show host…and just all u and Michele and team did to put event on!!

Gianna :)


From Farshad:
… and a special thanks goes to Michele for bringing everything together for this event. Thank you for all the time and effort that you put into
this event. As you all witnessed, this event was Standing Room Only. I guess we need to get a bigger facility for the next one…

Congratulations to all for holding such a successful event…


From Sande Hart with SARAH
Hi Sukh,
Saturday night was informative, empowering, inspirational and a lot of fun.
Thank You.


Dear Great Members,
Thank you so much for such a great night! I appreciate your letting me work with you all and I look forward to doing so in the future. I still hear wonderful remarks from some of my friends about the beautiful organization of the event, eloquent speakers, the panel, great food, and the drumming. Michelle, Sukh Mary Ann, Vincent, Mahsa, Farshad and everyone, you all did a great job. The Volunteers worked with such a wonderful spirit – serving and cleaning up.
Thanks Farshad and Michelle for the CD. Love, Makhosazana

Reflections on the Stuffed Animal Drive

On Saturday, January 29th, a group of volunteers got together at the BTC warehouse in Santa Ana with the goal of collecting and packing 1000 stuffed animals for children in Sri Lanka. In addition to collecting the stuffed animals, they planned to attach hand-written notes to each of the stuffed animals in the hopes that their message would uplift the children affected by the Tsunami. Due to the kindness and generosity of so many, we actually STARTED the day with over 1000 stuffed animals!!!

The focus of the entire day was on the children. Not only were the stuffed animals going to be delivered to the children of Sri Lanka, but it was also the children who volunteered that helped make this event succesful. The children helped build boxes, sorted stuffed animals, wrote personal messages, created signs and directed traffic. The children worked in the true spirit of service to prepare the gifts and send them all with love to the children of Sri Lanka, of whom over 9000 were effected by the Tsunami.

The volunteers themselves had amazing stories!! A couple of little girls shared how they were vacationing in Thailand during Christmas and woke up on December 26th planning to go the beach, but for no particular reason just decided to go the next day. The aunt of two young Sri Lankan volunteers lost her home in the Tsunami, and yet these two children were cheerfully working on a project to help Sri Lankan people they don’t even know. Their father showed us pictures and a map of Sri Lanka, which made the whole project that much more meaningful. A very young volunteer, Sebastian,who came with his grandmother, literally worked non-stop (except for the occasional donut break) for several hours. He never got tired or bored. He was truly inspirational to watch. Another young boy, Joshua, and his friend Chris, serenaded the volunteers with several songs from their clarinets, including “A Whole New World”. A whole new world indeed.

Everyone worked so hard in between snacks and lively conversation. As the day passed on, volunteers continued to pack stuffed animals into donated boxes that were stamped “To the Children of Sri Lanka”. By the end of the day, we had collected over 3000 stuffed animals!!!

But that was only the beginning. The storage and transportation of the stuffed animals began as soon as the stuffed animals were sorted and boxed. Over 100 boxes were transported to Northridge, California, to an awaiting sea container, which left for Sri Lanka on Feb. 12th.

Once they arrive in Sri Lanka, the stuffed animals will be distributed to the children by a group called “SARVODAYA”. Sarvodaya is Sanskrit for Awakening of All”. The group is the largest people’s movement in Sri Lanka and was started almost 50 years ago. The philosophy of Sarvodaya is drawn from Buddhist and Ghandian principles. They are non-political and help people of all religions and ethnic groups. This group was a good match for BTC.

A lot of love and care went into this event and that’s what made it so successful. The people who participated had the intention of not only sending stuffed animals but also sending love, and it showed in everything they did. The love just kept on coming in the way of more stuffed animals and notes, for several days after the event. One batch of notes was especially touching. It came from some severely disabled high-school students from Oakland, CA. Their notes and pictures reflected that even when our minds or bodies are limited, love has NO limitations. In addition to their notes and pictures, these children collected coins from home and sent a check for $25.00 to help kids in Sri Lanka.

It was really a great experience to witness to the kindness and generosity that people are capable of when given the space and opportunity to do so. It inspired and challenged me to dedicate myself to creating those spaces and opportunities wherever I can.

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