Author Archive

Valentine Volunteers

February 24, 2011

Trees for Life hosted a recognition luncheon on Valentines Day to honor our wonderful volunteers.

 Pat Felton and David Kimble recognize Momtchil Borrisov for his volunteer work at Trees for Life.

Trees for Life – Volunteers – -Nancy Benefiel, Momtchil Borrisov, Kelly & Maria Brown, Karen Carney, Marti Coulson, Karen & Richard Crowson Diana Cubbage, Shipra Deori, Jenice Duong, Lee Earnest, Mark Earnest, Martha Fair, Richard & Joann Farnsworth, Emily France, Dorothy Haner, Jon Harvell, Ron Helton, Joanette Hickey, Tat Hidano, Nicole Hoyt, Max Johnson, Shiela Kumar, Pamela Larkin, Ken Larson, Aimee Leisy, Hector Lorca, Chuck Macy, Ken Mastroly, Marjorie McClure, Jack Murphy, Mary Politt, Mattie Predmore, Amanda Roadhouse, Adam Smith, Linnel Steib, Jenny Stover-Brown, Clara Stover-Brown, Molly Stover-Brown, Dow Summers, Gayla Sustar, Jason Vandecreek, Daniel VanSickle, Doug & Janet Webb, and Margalee Wright.


February 5, 2011

The Trees for Life Board of Directors adds two new members. On Friday, January 21, 2011 the Board of Directors voted to increase their board with the addition of two new members. The new board members are Dr. Adam Smith and Jason Vandecreek. These additions to the board will add a new dimension to the vision and direction of Trees for Life. Adam brings a high level of experience in educational development and academic research, while Jason will continue to provide the ongoing knowledge and skills related to the application of an integrated advanced technology system. In my last blog post (Love – The Secret Ingredient, January 13) Adam Smith told his story. Here’s more about Jason Vandercreek.

Jason Vandecreek

Jason has a  degree in Computer Science from Kansas State University and he owns his own computer company that specializes in software development and design, systems integration and application. Jason stopped by Trees for Life about a year ago for a short visit on his way to India and like Adam found that Trees for Life had become an important part of his life. Jason found that the mission, the people and the philosophy of Trees for Life paralleled his personal beliefs. Being at TFL is a natural fit for Jason. Jason compares the similarities of his personal philosophy and operating style with that of TFL. It’s all about choices; it’s a tool, like an open source software that allows the user to make decisions that benefit the user whether that is a business client or TFL recipient. It is the process not the product: like the baker who makes bread it is about being the yeast not the beaker or the bread.


January 13, 2011

(note: the author of this post is Dr. Adam Smith) 

What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Why, nearly a decade after I first visited  Trees forLife, do I continue to come back?

Trees for Life has an address, a website, and a staff, but one
could never visit the building or the website or work there to
be part of Trees for Life,  most people who are part of Trees for Life never have.

I think I can only explain Trees for Life through my own experience. I came here in early 2002 with the idea that I would volunteer a few months before I started another
commitment. I had heard extraordinary accolades about the place and Balbir, and so given my nature I was fairly skeptical. Nevertheless, I supported the intent of their projects and so came planning to help make a change in the world without myself being changed.

Today I’m working at a desk made of a worn hospital door on which sits an outdated but usable computer in an old school
building rented from the city of Wichita for a few dollars each year. In a few moments I will receive a call to the kind of
simple but nutritious lunch served every day (walk-ins welcome) for which everyone is asked to pay $1 to keep us conscientious of the blessing of sustenance that not everyone has. Around me I can hear people working on a project to send books and musical instruments to community-run libraries in Nicaragua. And when I came in to Trees for Life this morning I was greeted with hugs.

So what happened between then and now? My physical trajectory is easy enough to explain: a year and a half after full-time volunteer service with Trees for Life I entered graduate school at the University of California, Berkeley, earned my Ph.D., and am now a postdoctoral researcher there.

My internal trajectory eludes the one-sentence description… within a few weeks at Trees for Life I realized there was
something here I could find almost nowhere else in the world.

At first that ” something” was only apparent a few hours each week: in the morning circle where everyone gathers for a few minutes of silence then breaks to embrace and start the workday; and in the weekly “Who We Are” meetings in which we talk about not what we do but why we do it. That, something, grew when I saw the sacrifices everyone was making, such as business executives like Balbir and David eschewing their profession to live frugally on minimum-wage salaries or less. I saw the equality of our humanity when one day our lead programmers were asked to help dig up a broken sewer line, not for want of strong backs, but because we were all in this endeavor together. And I saw the birthday cards, the hugs, the laughter, and the friendships.

Then, one day, I saw the ” something” most directly. Walking through the hallway, I stopped to really look at the pictures I had seen so many times before. There were images of barefoot children smiling on swings, a man painfully hoisting on his back a crushing load of rocks, a colorful crowd focused intensely on planting their community’s first fruit tree… I felt the connection between them and me. I knew that the there was no difference between the people in my immediate Trees for Life family and these people, only distance separates us, and that is a meager barrier.

So now I live in California using state-of-the-art research facilities to understand the environment, but I spend my
vacations working on these worn hospital doors inside this old school. This is home. But I know even when I am not here I am part of Trees for Life, because that  “something” is love.

Adam B. Smith, Ph.D.
January 4, 2011
Wichita, Kansas”

Alternate Gift Giving at Trees for Life

December 16, 2010


I don’t know about you, but I am through giving gifts that don’t make a difference. I’m tired of giving gifts of neckties, boxes of candy and perfume to friends and family that already have more than they will ever use. Instead of giving them a gift that they in turn will either stack on the pile or  just “re-gift consider giving them the alternative gift of hope, a gift that will truly make a difference in a human life.  This holiday season join Trees for Life and Books for Life  where a number of alternative gift programs are available that support  those in need in developing countries. 

You can make a great difference in the lives of others by selecting the DONATE NOW to give to one of the Trees for Life programs that supports the fight against hunger in developing countries.



or you can give the gift of literacy and education by selecting DONATE NOW to donate to Books for Life which supports the development of a literacy programs  and builds Libraries in a rural villages.


At Trees for Life and Books for Life you can donate on behalf of a friend or family member and we will let them know of the gift given in their honor. What a wonderful way to help and recognize others.

Trees for Life – The Dream Continues

November 6, 2010

In 1983 while flying over the island of Cyprus, Balbir Mathur had a vision. The result of that vision is Trees for Life International . Today, after 27 years, Trees for Life has touched the lives of millions of people around the world. Balbir’s vision of serving the poorest of the poor is simple: the elimination of hunger and the improvement of peoples’ lives is through education. Balbir often states, “We are partners who empower, not saviors”.

One of the present educational projects of  Books for Life,  the educational component of Trees for Life, is demonstrated in the video Ready to Fly. This video highlights the commitment of Books for Life to partner with local communities in developing 200 libraries in Nicaragua. the first 51 of which are now operational. The Second annual Library Conference held in Managua, Nicaragua on October 7, 2010 was highlighted by Balbir’s pledge to partner in providing 1,000,000 books to the children of Nicaragua over the next 10 years.  This conference and Books for Life’s commitment to partner in building the libraries comes from a connection of the heart and is a promise of education for the children.  We don’t just partner in building libraries, we partner in building lives and in doing so we build foundations for the future.

You can make a donation and learn more about Trees for Life International at

From Trees for Life Volunteer to Teacher

October 12, 2010
This is an excert from an email sent by a former volunteer who helped develop teaching lessons at Trees for Life.
Dear Trees
I love my new teaching job. In the 4th grade class, we are doing Everyday Math.  I am already familiar with it, because I learned about it doing the teaching lessons  for Trees for Life!
The 5th grade teacher that I assist praised me for my skills proofreading the kid’s writing assignments and helping them with editing, Two more skills I got plenty of practice and experience with while working on the lessons for Trees!
So, I am very grateful for working with Trees for Life. You guys really helped prepare me for this job. Mostly I work with 2nd graders. They’re my favorites. They are little sponges happily soaking up anything and everything. They are really a joy to teach. 
How about you? Would you like to make a difference, would you like to become involved? Join us, our offices are located in Wichita, Kansas. Call Pat Felton, Volunteer Coordinator, Trees for Life – 316-945-6929.

Children of the First Presbyterian Church raise money for Trees

September 17, 2010

First Presbyterian Church – Blue Earth, MN.   As part of the children’s summer Vacation Bible School we studied the great Baobat Tree and how it serves the whole community. Trees for Life fit perfectly into our week-long adventure into the African Savannah. As part of their adventure in learning and sharing the chldren were pleased to collect $150 for Tree for Life. The children are excited that the money will be used for trees that will provide food and income for families and communities in need.
Rev. Janet Crissinger-Clark – Thank You for the wonderful lessons that you are sharing with our children. Trees for Life

Summer Youth in Action

Northfield School Students At Trees for Life

September 17, 2010

Trees for Life was fortunate to have students from Northfield School spend September 7th and 8th as part of their volunteer outreach program.

top row: Pat Felton, TFL Volunteer Coordinator, Bill Coleman, Northfield Teacher
2nd Row: Ana, Cami, Lori
front row: Emily, Caroline