November 2014 Newsletter

Paul Zak, a neuroscientist, has demonstrated that acts of kindness are like using a muscle: each act strengthens the capacity for others.

        Rising Star Outreach continues to be strengthened by the contributions of those who believe in our mission of helping thousands of people affected by leprosy.  In October Dr. Susan Hilton, Managing Director of Rising Star Outreach of India, travelled to the USA, during which time she met with friends of Rising Star Outreach and attended a Board Meeting of the USA Rising Star Outreach Board of Directors.  Dr. Hilton is a remarkable woman in her own right, but as the director of our India campus she leads with vision, grace, and fortitude.  She and Padma Venkataraman  (Chairman of the Board of Directors in India) are taking Rising Star Outreach to new heights.
India Presentation For US Board Meeting
Rising Star Outreach of India Medical Team and Dr. Susan Hilton
(Courtesy: Dr. Susan Hilton)

Dr. Hilton shared with the board how Rising Star Outreach continues to make progress in medical care, micro-grants, and in the education of the students.  The Volunteer program and the Sponsorship program also strengthen the organization and move Rising Star Outreach forward because they increase the capacity to reach more people and assist them with the care they desperately need.  Rising Star Outreach is fortunate to have the leadership of Ms. Padma Venkataraman and Dr. Susan Hilton!  Rising Star Outreach is also privileged to have board members that share their time, energy, and resources in supporting the work of Rising Star Outreach.

Lexi Walker and David Archuleta (Courtesy: Bry Cox) 
  On October 24, Rising Star Outreach hosted a special evening with David Archuleta and Lexi Walker at the lovely home of Scott and Karen Keller in Bountiful, Utah.  It was a gathering of friends: friends who have supported Rising Star Outreach for many years through volunteering, sponsoring students, or donating their time or resources.  New friends also attended to gain a greater understanding of Rising Star Outreach’s mission.  Si Foster, creator and chef extraordinaire of A Bountiful Kitchen, generously donated her time and resources to prepare delectable menu with glorious hors d’oevres and mouthwatering desserts.

       As President of Rising Star Outreach I was thrilled to welcome everyone and express appreciation for the support they’ve given.  I spoke about my frequent trips to India and the privilege I have had of associating with individuals and families living in the colonies that are affected by leprosy.  While visiting with them I see faces of hopehope because of the assistance of Rising Star Outreach. I see hope on the faces of the patients who have their leprous ulcers washed, cleaned, and wrapped with new bandages.  I see hope shining on the faces of those who have received micro-loans and now have the ability to lift their families from poverty.  Our students experience hope when education increases their confidence, intellect, and determination. At Rising Star Outreach, we understand that hope is lifting individuals, families, and communities.

       Lexi Walker, a gifted 12-year old singer, opened the musical portion of the program with the song “Tomorrow” from the musical Annie.  She visited Rising Star Outreach’s website and found two students to sponsor—one her age and one her brother’s age.  She was happy to have the opportunity to help them receive the gift of education.  Lexi’s voice is beyond her years, and her love of music and appreciation for Rising Star Outreach was a gift to all those who heard her perform.

Kendra Lowe playing the piano (Courtesy: Bry Cox)

David Archuleta, a remarkable musician and celebrity, spoke about his experience in January 2011 volunteering with Rising Star Outreach in India.  He recalled spending special time with the students and had tender feelings as he gave medical care to those affected by leprosy.  He delighted us with his rendition of Somebody Out There,“ a favorite song of Rising Star Outreach supporters, and other beautiful songs with his extraordinary voice.  David is a dear friend of Rising Star Outreach, and we are grateful for the way he constantly shares his gift of music and compassion with us. 

The talented Kendra Lowe accompanied Lexi and David as their musical director and as musical arranger for Lexi.  She is an accomplished musician, and Rising Star Outreach is grateful to her incredible musical talents.  The guests enjoyed personal photos with David and Lexi taken by the talented Bry Cox.  What a great evening!

unnamed Tyler Vigue, Executive Director of Rising Star Outreach, introduced a new way to donate to Rising Star Outreach through the Amber Douglas Circle of Hope. Here’s an excerpt of his speech: Rising Star Outreach would not exist if it wasn’t for the empathy and compassion of Amber Douglas and the tragic way that her life ended.  The mission of Rising Star Outreach is to lift a population of people who suffer much like Amber Douglas suffered. Amber understood the sadness and isolation that comes when you feel that you are alone.  While Amber was blessed with a loving family and many opportunities throughout her life, the unfortunate reality was that she felt isolated while battling the demons of loneliness and depression.  The inspirational way that Amber still demonstrated compassion for others led her family to India and brought her mother, Becky, literally face-to-face with people who suffer an indescribable stigma because of a disease and cultural pattern that truly should have no place in the world today.  Amber’s example of compassion and service led to the creation of an organization that now invites donors and supporters the world over to learn to empathize with those who suffer and to be part of creating needed change.  The Amber Douglas Circle of Hope has been established to invite friends and supporters of Rising Star Outreach to help broaden the circle of support demonstrated by Amber’s loving generosity.

        Following Tyler’s remarks, David and Lexi joined together to sing “A Whole New World” from Aladdin and ended the evening with the moving song ‘The Prayer of the Children” by Kurt Bestor.  David and Lexi also graciously volunteered their time so attendees could have a photo taken with these two talented young people.  On behalf of Rising Star Outreach, I express sincere appreciation to all who helped make this event so beautiful and memorable—especially to those who are now part of the Amber Douglas Circle of Hope.  With continued support Rising Star Outreach can continue offering hope: hope of a hand-up, not a hand out, hope to a heart who needs mending, hope to a life needing a lift and love.  Come join us in donating to the Amber Douglas Circle of Hope.  (Contact Tyler Vigue at

1cce86fIn October, changes were made to the USA staff of Rising Star Outreach. Callie Reagan, Director of Programs and Outreach, made the decision to seek education opportunities in another state, and Heidi Lelle has filled her position.  The halls of the Provo office and the campus in India have been filled with the sounds of Callie’s infectious laugh, which we will miss dearly.  Energetic, gregarious, and totally committed to Rising Star Outreach, Callie was enthusiastic about her job, yet always mindful of the struggling volunteer, the student needing a boost, or the older person with leprosy in need of a hug.  Thank you, Callie, for sprinkling Rising “Stardust” wherever you went during your time with us.

28933e7We welcome Heidi Lelle, a native of Connecticut to our team as the Director of Communications and Outreach.  Focused on working in the non-profit sector, Heidi has extensive digital and communications project management experience from previous roles at Wake Up World Communications, United Nations Foundation, and BYU-Hawaii’s Student Affairs.  Throughout her studies at the American University in Cairo, The 2nd Inaugural Voyage of the Scholar Ship, and Brigham Young University-Hawaii, Heidi has traveled to over 20 different countries, including India where she volunteered for a short time at a school in Kerala. Her experience there inspired her to serve 18 months as a community service volunteer in Greece and Cyprus and instilled her drive to be an agent of change for the greater good. Heidi graduated with a B.A. in Political Science, minoring in Intercultural Communications, and received an Intercultural Peace-Building Certificate at the David O. McKay Center for Intercultural Understanding. We are excited and look forward to her sharing her talents to further the Rising Star Outreach mission to lift those with leprosy.

As Mother Teresa so beautifully shared, “I never beg for money. I only give you the opportunity of doing something beautiful for God.” On behalf of Rising Star Outreach, I express sincere appreciation during this month of gratitude to so many of you for your continued support, which always does something beautiful for Rising Star Outreach and for God.
Sally Read
Rising Star Outreach

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