US Roadshow raises thousands to help us through difficult time
US roadshow 2008
Kurt and Lisa Stoner of the Peace River Refuge and Ranch in Zolfo Springs.
Supporters at the Oakland Zoo with some of the mittens for our China bears.
Just days before the first scheduled event of our 2008 Roadshow, a devastating 7.9 earthquake rocked Sichuan Province, forcing Jill to make the difficult decision to miss the Roadshow and stay in China to help with relief efforts. Fortunately, thanks to the flexibility and continued support of our members, US Director Alice Ng was warmly welcomed at each event as she presented on Jill's behalf. Here, in Alice's own words:
"After hearing of Jill's plans, Morgan and I worked feverishly with our hosts to make the most of the Roadshow and just a few days later, I hopped on a red-eye flight to Boston for our first event. There, Evelyn Kimber of the Boston Vegetarian Society helped organise a Special Speaker Presentation with a lovely vegan dinner at the My Thai Cafe Vegetarian & Bubble Tea Bistro. Long-time supporter Jeanine Taylor from Snooty Jewelry very kindly chauffeured me to and from the venue (I felt like a true VIP) and the packed house was brimming with questions and ideas.
Then it was off to Orlando for the HSI/HSUS Expo, where I met Andrew Rowan (HSI), Neil Trent (MHS) and a host of other exciting movers and shakers in the animal welfare arena, including Animals Asia's very own Dr John Wu, who was in the US in a training program. The presentation was well received, and Andrew Rowan would later donate HSI funds to Animals Asia's cat and dog rescues in the aftermath of the earthquake.
Afterwards, I hopped to the airport, rented a car, and travelled a few hours south to the Peace River Refuge and Ranch in Zolfo Springs where Lisa and Kurt Stoner coordinated the most amazing outdoor event at their sanctuary. With almost a non-existent budget, Lisa and Kurt gathered donations and in-kind goods which resulted in an outstanding, professional event complete with lunch and a private auction! I found Kurt still cutting back trees the night before the event, trees that had sustained damage during the hurricanes three years ago. This joint event brought supporters from all over Florida and beyond including our former bear manager, Kathryn Yochis (Yoch), who donated her own pictures to the silent auction.
With the east coast segment completed, I boarded a 6am flight back to San Francisco and to Morgan, who worked feverishly behind the scenes to ensure a smooth schedule. That evening, thanks to the efforts of Karen Keefer, Animals Asia had the rare opportunity to present at the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco. Reaching a completely different audience, I presented to people who have never heard about the moon bears' struggle, or of our work against cat and dog eating in China.
Staying within the Bay Area, our next event was an evening lecture at the Oakland Zoo. There, supporters surprised us by presenting Animals Asia with a huge basket of bear mittens for our beloved bears in China! The knitting group had been long-time supporters of Animals Asia and were just delighted at the opportunity to be able to give directly to the bears.
Our final event brought us to Marin County and to the private home of Jonathan Frieman and Moira Brennan. They, along with Charles McGlashan and Carol Misseldine, co-hosted a private and successful fundraiser, benefiting Animals Asia's projects in China. Carol discovered Animals Asia during Jill's 2007 Roadshow and has been a dedicated and enthusiastic supporter ever since. It was through her tireless efforts and the generosity of all the hosts that this event was such a success.
After finishing the Roadshow on such a high note, I reflected on Jill and how much she puts into each of these events. I knew I had big shoes to fill, and speaking on her behalf has been a great honour. And despite the initial disappointment (our supporters had to have missed Jill) many have come up to me after the presentations and expressed their deepest gratitude to Animals Asia, often pledging to continue to their support in the years to come and calling us the "angels that watch over the animals in Asia".
A special thanks to all the supporters of this year's US Roadshow.