A Gift of Love Every Year

May 14, 2013 by

Laura and Michael Cook

 Photo courtesy of Shanna K. Patterson

Mike and Laura Cook, Ventura, CA, with their original certificates in 2006

Mike and Laura Cook honor each other every year on their wedding anniversary by planting 100 trees through Trees for Life. Here’s their story as shared by Laura:

“For our wedding anniversary each year, we purchase 100 fruit trees from Trees For Life. We understand fully that there are several amazing ecologically supportive, disease/hunger fighting projects being carried out by Trees For Life. Our monies go to Trees For Life and are spent as only Trees For Life could. Each project is beyond worthy, but this married couple has found a way for romance to be held up by disease fighting, hunger abating, ecology sustaining, and so much more. These projects are done around the globe where it is needed most. We will likely never visit a fruit tree that is providing shade and food while stabilizing a river’s bank with its roots. But each year, we buy another 100 (trees). And around our own neighborhood in this world, we can gaze out at tree topped vistas to try to see if we could understand what our hundreds of trees amount to if they were grouped. It is very romantic. And every time I have corresponded with someone working for Trees For Life, it has been a pleasure and an honor. Their causes are not easy, but they are achievable and powerful in their beautiful simplicity. Please support them, there is no better gift to give to someone of importance!”

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A special birthday party

February 19, 2013 by

Molly's birthday party

A young lady and long-time friend of Trees for Life, by the name of Molly, had a birthday at the end of January.  Here’s what her mother, Jenny, wrote to us,

“Regarding Molly’s alternative gift party… It was becoming apparent to Chris and I that our girls were motivated to have birthday parties just for the gifts.  Wanting to quell that motivation and encourage new awareness, we suggested that on “even-yeared” birthdays, the girls could have a full-fledged party with gifts going to a non-profit of their choice, rather than receiving gifts for themselves.

Molly didn’t skip a beat in choosing Trees for Life as her non-profit of choice.  Party invitations were extended to her friends with a specific request NOT to bring a present for Molly but to bring an amount of money (of any size) to be donated to TFL in honor of Molly’s birthday.

Guests showed up at the party with homemade cards with money creatively tucked into pockets or taped inside.  Molly shared with the girls about Trees for Life and how the money might go to help other girls around the world go to school, have books, etc.  After opening the cards, the girls enjoyed a brownie cake that had been decorated by Molly with the Trees for Life logo.  Fun was had by all and a beaming Molly delivered $112.50 to Trees for Life the next day. The girls in attendance at the party were Molly (holding the cake), Clara, Lydia, Olivia, Leah and Eliana. “

A Valentine for the World

February 9, 2013 by

A Valentine for the World

tfl heart gift 2

Most valentines go to just one person. And that’s good. But give your loved one a “Gift from the Heart” from Trees for Life and you’ll be sending a valentine to the world.

Just select one of nine gift ideas that help people lift themselves out of poverty. Then create a customized card to either print or email to your valentine. With your “Gift from the Heart,” you’ll be sharing love with people around with world.

Gifts from the Heart

See More Gift Ideas Button

See More Gift Ideas

A good day for a lemonade stand

August 16, 2012 by

Boy with lemonade stand

This enterprising young man wanted to raise funds for Trees for Life. He set up a lemonade stand and was able to send a gift. There are many things you can do to help people in developing countries. All it takes is a big heart.

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Our gratitude to Ernstmann Tree Care

July 27, 2012 by

The Trees for Life office is in a 1940’s era school building which was renovated 12 years ago through donations of materials and time.  When something major needs to be done a magical thing happens: a person suddenly walks in the door to meet the need!  Such is the case with a very dead pine tree needing to be removed. Due to pine beetles throughout vast areas of the USA, many pine trees have died, requiring removal, an expensive project!

Trees for Life building and dead tree

Trees for Life building with dead pine tree

Trees for Life Board member Jason Vandecreek contacted an arborist friend who readily agreed to cut down and remove the tree! Many of the staff were out watching the process as two employees from Ernstmann Tree Care felled the tree in 97 degree heat one afternoon in July. We have learned to have faith that what we need will be provided. We give thanks to those volunteers with big hearts who are able to provide their time and talents to Trees for Life so we can continue to use the gifts we receive to serve those in need.  See the process in the pictures below:

Man in tree trimming branches

Man in tree removing tree limbs

Removing limbs

Close up of tree limb removal

Mission accomplished

Mission accomplished

Employees receiving thank you button copy

Employees of Ernstmann Tree Care receiving a thank you button from Trees for Life

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Lunch guests at Trees for Life

February 28, 2012 by

Rema Venkatasubban, Treva Mathur (Office Coordinator),
Anju Bhargava and David Kimble (Executive Director)

The Trees for Life staff joins together daily for lunch, often with visitors who have come to learn more about the organization. It is a time of exchanging who we  are and to connect with our guests, who come from near and far.

In mid February our guests were Ms. Rema Venkatasubban, Wichita, KS and Anju Bhargava, Livingston, NJ. Rema is the chair locally, and Anju is the founder of the Hindu American Seva (Service) Charities. This organization was an outgrowth of the initiative by the Clinton administration to promote service among faith-based groups in the US. The mission of HASC is to develop a Hindu-American identity and strengthen community building to address their needs and those in their communities.

Anju Bhargava was appointed as a Member of President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith Based and Neighborhood Partners Office of the White House on April 4th, 2009 and thereafter formed the current Hindu American Seva Charities organization. It operates independently and without funding from any government agency.

Rema and Anju told their personal stories of their journey to service. It is a passion for both of them which is enabling them to continue to spread the message of service (Seva) to the Indian community in America.

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The Trees for Life Culture

August 23, 2011 by

Trees for Life is a movement of people who are

striving to move from the Victim mentality

to the practice of Responsibility.


Victim mentality

If things are going wrong, or badly,

Or not to my liking, then someone is

to blame. It is necessary to identify

the person(s) of why things are not as I

think they should be. Blame must be

determined and accepted by the

wrongdoer, and things must be made

right. I am justified in being

emotionally upset. Neither growth

nor learning result from the bad

things that happen to me.


I completely and wholly accept that

Everything that has ever happened to

me, that is presently happening to me,

and that will happen to me in the

future provided me with opportunities

for learning and growth; and that no

one else can be rightly blamed for

ANY negativity, hurts, or abuses

Which my emotional nature

experiences. I shall seek no exceptions

To this belief, even when the apparent

Cause is not of my making.

-Adapted from the Totally Responsible Person, Human Service Alliance

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The Mango Seller

June 18, 2011 by

The Mango Seller – as told by Balbir Mathur, Trees for Life

In the fall of 1982 I was invited to an Africa-America conference hosted by the government of Zimbabwe.

The top echelon of African ambassadors and politicians were at the conference, along with their entourage. The American delegation included members of the state department, high-level politicians and businessmen.

This was my first trip to Africa. When I landed in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, it represented all of Africa to me. I was eager to explore “Africa,” so I hired a taxi and requested a tour of the city.

“What would you like to see?” the driver inquired.

“Show me everything,” I said.

The driver took me to the best parts of the city, where the rich and powerful lived. After an hour or so, I asked him to show me where the poor lived. He turned around in disbelief and said that was not a good idea. I could understand his reasoning. Racial tensions in Zimbabwe were very high, and this was not a good time for a foreigner to be cruising around all by himself. But I persisted.

The slum was not far away. It was obvious the taxi driver was not going to take me inside the slum, but I was grateful that I could at least view it from the outskirts. Small shacks with tin or thatched roofs—symbol of poverty and slums throughout the world—were scattered all around. This was Sunday afternoon, and people were sitting in groups under shady trees or leisurely walking about.

The scene was a stark contrast to the rich areas I had just visited. There I had seen large, impressive British bungalows with manicured lawns and luxury cars in the driveways. There had been practically no people on the streets.

Here, in the midst of poverty, there were people outside mingling with one another.

As we drove along a bumpy dirt road, I saw a woman selling mangoes. I expressed a desire to stop and buy some of this fruit. Again, the taxi driver told me it was not a good idea. He even offered to deliver mangoes to my hotel. But again I persisted.

Reluctantly, he parked on the side of the road. I got out and walked across a patch of bare earth to the mango seller, about ten yards away. Dressed in traditional clothing, she sat on the ground beneath a tree, with a couple dozen mangoes scattered in front of her—a common sight in most developing countries.

By this time, the sight of a foreigner getting out of a taxi and walking toward the mango seller had attracted attention. Several bystanders crossed their arms and eyed me with suspicion, as if to say, “Who do you think you are?”

I threw a glance at the taxi driver. I could see nervousness on his face…….

The rest of the story is a chapter in the new book Hope for Africa and is available from Amazon.com.

To order your copy:  http://www.amazon.com/Hope-Africa-Voices-Around-Little/dp/1578263085


June 9, 2011 by

What do you do after 5 days in a new country? If your Mozhdeh Mobayen you go to Trees for Life to volunteer. Mozhdeh who had arrived in Wichita from Iran less than a week ago knew that, as in Iran, she wanted to volunteer. Mozhdeh had been a volunteer  in her community and knew that helping others was part of her life. Before moving to Wichita, Mozhdeh had been an English elementary teacher in Tehran for 6 years and now she and her husband Hessam were relocating to Wichita for Hessam to complete a Ph.D. at Wichita State University.

Hessam & Mozhdeh Mobayen w/ Balbir Mathur


June 6, 2011 by


The University of Nicaragua, the Water Resources Research Center, Nicaragua-based NGO Comities of Potable Water and Sanitation and Trees for Life International have formed a partnership to conduct a research program to develop and implement a process to promote the degradation of fecal material with inoculation or a seeding mechanism to ensure that suitable microorganisms are present that continually break down human waste and improve sanitation conditions.

The rapid degradation of fecal matter is extremely important for countries like Nicaragua that are prone to frequent tropical storms and hurricanes. The approach that we are developing involves the utilization of locally produced plant-based enzymes that are readily applicable to any type of latrine, are environmentally sustainable as they enhance the natural degradation process.

In Phase One of the project will be primarily directed toward gathering information related to the technical aspects of the project. Phase Two will consist of full-scale field studies to assess the effectiveness of the concept.