HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Give and Live USA Tour raises 1 million baht for Chiang Mai children

UPS donates 1 million baht to provide wheelchairs for the disabled

Commencement Ceremony

Give and Live USA Tour raises 1 million baht for Chiang Mai children

Scott Jones

From small rural communities to Hollywood, the Give and Live USA tour brought Thailand to America.

As Hurricane Katrina battered New Orleans, the Give and Live Benefits USA Tour began a few hundred miles away in Virginia. Seven concerts in six states during August-October 2005 raised over a million baht for charitable projects for less fortunate children here in northern Thailand. Silent auctions of goods and services from local businesses and Thai imports plus sales of CDs, Give and Live T-shirts, Karen silver, hill tribe bags and handicrafts from the Children’s Garden orphanage made the project an educational and financial success.

New Give and Live board member Todd Pellizzero and Scott plan a charity motorcycle ride for 2006. Give-Live-Ride-Thailand.

The funds raised will be dispersed through FERC (Foundation for the Education of Rural Children) and used to purchase educational and therapeutic equipment for children with multi-disabilities at the Chiangmai School for the Blind; to provide all living, lodging, educational and medical expenses for a year for the 30 orphans at Children’s Garden near Doi Saket; to buy 50 mattresses for dormitories; to give scholarships to 20-40 pre-approved children at vocational or governmental facilities and to build at least two new schools at locations to be announced.

A grass roots ecumenical tour, the venues were diverse: the historic Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Virginia; St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina; Edgehill Methodist Church in Nashville, Tennessee; the Jewish Community Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota; the Paul Bunyan Playhouse in Bemidji in rural northern Minnesota; the Harrington Arts Center at the Accordion Museum in Superior, Wisconsin; and finally at the elegant home of author/voice-over talent Ben Patrick Johnson in the hills above Hollywood.

Jill Holly and Scott Jones perform her original song “Calling All Angels” at the Minneapolis concert.

The core of each concert was my multimedia show of original music and comedy with photos of beautiful Thailand and the children we’re helping, synchronized to songs about eating anything, driving everywhere and sleeping anytime (“Living in the Thailight Zone”), loving Thailand (“My Home Away From Home”) and losing your parents and children to AIDS: “Grandparents and grandchildren left behind, alone together but caught up in a bind. They’re too old to earn or learn something new and too young to know what to do.” Guest artists graced the stage at most events: Grammy Award winner Barbara Bailey Hutchison (who recently performed here in Chiangmai at FERC’s 6th Annual Gala in February 2005) in NC, VA and in her hometown Nashville; singer/guitarist Derek Jacobson in VA; recording artist Jill Holly and singer-songwriter Sara Wagner in Minneapolis; the women’s folk trio Trillium in Bemidji; and the Celtic band Willowgreen in Wisconsin.

The orphans at Children’s Garden will soon receive 200,000 baht but are enjoying their new badminton set even before the poles are up!

Concert production, promotion and the logistics of getting merchandise to each venue aside, the challenges were formidable. Everyday America read hurricane headlines and watched destitute people struggling to survive as contaminated waters and debris ravaged their homes. On the night of the North Carolina concert, three Katrina benefits were scheduled. Although last year’s tsunami put us on the map in some folk’s minds, Thailand is not a household word in the USA. The six full pages of travel ads in the Minneapolis newspaper listed only six fares to Asia with none to Thailand. People from the Midwest and the South vacation mainly in Mexico, the Caribbean and Europe. But the hundreds that came to the events gave generously to a new organization with unfamiliar causes. Many seeds were also planted for the future. Most volunteers talked about “next time.” Help with events was offered in Scottsdale, Arizona, in Madison, Wisconsin, in New York, in my hometown of Fargo, North Dakota. A connection with a long-time friend spawned the plans for a charity motorcycle ride here in northern Thailand in October 2006: Give-Live-Ride-Thailand. 10 riders will raise 100,000 baht each for Give and Live plus pay their own expenses for a pleasure ride and some charitable service work at one of our projects. Two have already signed up. It’s likely our fund-raising efforts will double next year.

Scott Jones sings the song Give and Live.

The heart-warming moments during the tour were constant. Seeing family and friends, then working with them for a common cause. Feeling the care and community at Barbara Hutchison’s church in Nashville and watching those folks make sure silent auction items given by their friends received sufficient bids to make the donor feel good. An impromptu mini-concert for my 93 year old stepfather and his nurse, probably his last concert and the last time I see him. Though one of the goals was fund-raising, other essential goals were education and awareness. And to take the first steps toward those goals. A choice moment was when eight year old Matt, the son of dear friends, found me after the second concert, one where he saw children his age on the screen, heard their stories through music, and felt compassion for their lives. For several years I’ve always thought him to be shy and reserved, but he looked me right in the eye and said emphatically, “That was powerful.” Those three words made that evening a grand success and helped me through the rest of the tour.

Give and Live, a registered non-profit in the USA, partners with FERC, a registered non-profit in USA and Thailand, and the Dutch non-profit Samsara Foundation to raise funds, present events, build schools and dormitories, and provide learning materials, scholarships, and necessary living expenses for needy children in Thailand. Please visit our websites for more information and donation opportunities: www.give andlive.org and www.rural-thai-education.org.

Silent auctions offered Thai exports, Karen silver plus local goods and services from merchants.

Silent auction volunteer Janie and Give and Live board member Judy with new Lahu outfits from the Children’s Garden.

Author and voice-over talent Ben Patrick Johnson in Hollywood gave generously. “Let’s build a school.”

UPS donates 1 million baht to provide wheelchairs for the disabled

Preeyanoot Jittawong

A donation of 1 million baht has been made by United Parcel Service (UPS) for the provision of wheelchairs to the Chiang Mai Disabled Center.

Andrew Connelly (4th right), UPS Asia Pacific region south district senior vice president presents 1 million baht to the Disabled Center where it was received by Sunan Willcox (center), president of the Foundation to Encourage the Potential of Disabled Persons.

UPS south district senior vice president for the Asia Pacific region Andrew Connelly presented the funds to Sunan Willcox, president of the Foundation to Encourage the Potential of Disabled Persons, on October 28. The occasion was witnessed by Sunan’s husband Donald Willcox, who is the accountant of the Foundation and Halim Selamat, managing director of UPS Thailand.

The Foundation to Encourage the Potential of Disabled Persons was set up in 1993 by disabled polio survivor Sunan and her husband Don, with the intention of supporting and encouraging the health, education, occupation and prestige of disabled people in the North of Thailand.

The donation will provide 100 steel folding wheelchairs to partially paralyzed heart attack and stroke victims living in the rural areas, and a further 75 children’s steel wheelchairs specially made for young victims of cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and other disabling conditions.

Commencement Ceremony

Marion Vogt

The Chiang Mai Ballet Academy held their Commencement Certificate ceremony last Sunday at the Grand Nanta ballroom of the Sheraton Hotel Chiang Mai.

Guests of honor included (seated front) ML Preeyapun Sridhavat and HSH Prince Bhisadej Rajani. (Standing behind) Japanese Consul General Katsuhiro Shinohara, Tamiko Shinohara, MD of Chiangmai Mail Michael Vogt and Finnish HC Dr. Supawat Poowakul.

Previously HRH Princess Chulabhorn met with Chiang Mai Ballet Academy Director ML Preeyapun who took the opportunity to make a donation (which was possible thanks to the generosity of many donors), towards the Chulabhorn Foundation, a cancer research institute.

The Commencement ceremony, which is under the auspices of The Royal Academy of Dance (UK) and the Commonwealth Society of Teachers of Dancing (Australia), also welcomed HSH Prince Bhisadej Rajani who acted as chairman and the young dancing students were honored to receive their certificates from him.