Archive for the ‘Trees for Life’ Category

A special birthday party

February 19, 2013

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. “

Our gratitude to Ernstmann Tree Care

July 27, 2012

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

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 Mango Seller

June 18, 2011

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

To order your copy:


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.

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.

Trees for Life Service Project

November 16, 2009

Last summer at Brethren Woods Camp, in Virginia, the young campers learned about Trees for Life and heard stories of its work around the world. They planted trees that will be at the camp for many years to come. Here is the article from the camp newsletter.

Trees for Life Service Project

Each summer Brethren Woods selects a worthy organization to be our service project and this summer that group was Trees for Life.  Trees for Life is a non-profit organization that offers a helping hand and education to families in poor villages around the world.  By learning how to plant and care for fruit trees, villagers become more self-sufficient and they are better able to help themselves with good nutrition and produce to sell.  There are no handouts and people pledge to share what they have learned with other villagers.  Since its beginnings in 1984, tens of millions of fruit trees have been planted  in developing countries!

During each week of camp, campers heard stories of the work of Trees for Life around the world.  Then, on Tuesday night, campers got to plant seeds for their own tree to take home with them and also worked as a group to plant trees here on the camp property that they can watch grow for years to come.  During Week 5, a Forest Ranger came to share more about the importance of trees and how to plant them with the group.  Offerings were collected throughout the week by campers combining their money to purchase a flag for the bulletin board.  Each flag represented a different country in the world where Trees for Life works.

The weekly totals were:

Week 1 – $258.45                                            Week 4 – $114.45

Week 2 – $197.61                                             Week 5 – $175.57

Week 3 – 161.72                                               Week 6 – $452.39

TOTAL = $1360.35

Be a part of the solution! Give Life Giving Trees to the World

Lemonade Stands for Trees 2000 through 2009

November 16, 2009

2000 Appel’s First Lemonade Stand

The Appel family’s first lemonade stand was held in 2000 in Nashville, Tennessee. The picture below shows young Madeline selling lemonade to buy trees for people in developing countries.

2000 Appel's first lemonade stand

Below is a note and pictures from the
2009 Appel Family Lemonade Stand

Dear Treva and Balbir,

We did have our first Denver lemonade stand for Trees for Life. The two days before our event it was snowy, rainy and cold. We decided to add hot chocolate to our menu which was fun, but turned out to be unnecessary as it was a Denver style, sunny, blue sky day (70 degrees) with snow melting around us. I think one of the girls wore flip-flops and I got a little pink from the sun!
Our turnout was moderate with some generous donors. It was a wonderful chance to meet our new neighbors and introduce them to Trees for Life. We did most of our advertising this year via internet which helped us to be more “tree friendly”. We had an exciting celebrity visit by Keir (Treva and Balbir’s son), which was really fun!
Our total for the day was $220. That is right up there with our all time best in Nashville. Not bad for our debut in Denver. I have mailed the checks and will also be sending photos. Please call when you visit Denver.
Thank you both for all that you do to make our world a more just and beautiful place.

The Appels

Dog with Appel lemonade stand

Keir Mathur with Appel daughters

Neighbors at Appel lemonade stand

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A Gift of Cookstoves to Jalapa, Guatemala

June 16, 2009
Eric Woratschka of Springfield, IL, met Tom Benevento, former Trees for Life volunteer, in Guatemala in 2007 while on a sister church mission trip. Tom, over the last 10 years, has facilitated the building of fuel-efficient cookstoves in Guatemala. Eric saw how these cookstoves, by providing a smoke-free and safer method of cooking, improved the health of women and children. The stoves also use less fuel, resulting in fewer trees being cut down.

Eric wanted to help the families at his sister church, in the Jalapa district of southeastern Guatemala, build these stoves. So when he returned to the United States, he shared this story with friends.

Now, with resources provided by Eric and Trees for Life, Tom Benevento is working with Padre Maxamiliano, coordinator of the Jalapa project, training villagers on constructing cookstoves in Jalapa.


 Give the gift of a cookstove.