October 2015 President’s Letter

“Never underestimate the difference YOU can make in the lives of others. Step forward, reach out and help.” ~ Pablo

At various times in my life I have been asked to step forward. Usually there is some worry and trepidation in the moment leading up to hearing my name called and knowing that it’s my turn. But what is interesting to me is that those simple acts of stepping forward when called upon, feel like some of the few moments of bravery in my life.

It might sound weird to consider such a simple act one of bravery, but my experiences have taught me that bravery is taking action against an impulse to refrain.

Over the last two years, I have met absolutely remarkable people associated with Rising Star Outreach. The ones who have left the most lasting impressions are those who make a habit in life of stepping forward. They don’t wait for their name to be called and they don’t apologize for taking action. And I don’t expect that they would consider themselves brave, though often, the rest of us might think so. They are people who see an opportunity to do good and take it. They step forward and invite the rest of us to join them in stepping forward as well.

I have been invited by the board of directors to step forward as the president of this amazing organization. Just as in other times in my life, I have felt worried and perhaps unprepared. For me, this has required a little bit of bravery. But I have stepped forward and I plan to continue following these wonderful examples of stepping forward to take this organization as far as I possibly can.

During my various visits to India, I have witnessed all kinds of examples of people stepping forward. Rising Star Outreach has empowered those we serve, the patients, students, and colony residents, and enabled these tender souls to step forward. Education and economic opportunity have brought hope and revitalized purpose and meaning in their lives.

The countenances and worldviews of volunteers change right before my face, as they step out of their comfort zones and bless individuals and communities through service. Individuals and communities that were previously considered forgotten, neglected, and invisible. Simple acts of love and caring, particularly those demonstrated by our sponsors and friends represent powerful changes within each of us. It is profound what love and action can do.

Recently, we enjoyed a wonderful time at the Sixth Annual Shawn Bradley Charity Golf Invitational and President’s Brunch. I want to take a moment and thank the dozens of sponsors, golf participants, volunteers, and brunch attendees who made these events spectacular and memorable. Many, many individuals stepped forward to advance the work of Rising Star Outreach through these great events, and we are so grateful for all that was given and sacrificed not only to make the day special, but more importantly for the work of lifting the leprosy affected.

Dozens of remarkable volunteers also stepped forward this summer and gave so much to bless the lives of those we serve in India. Many came at great personal sacrifice and all gave from their heart. It was amazing to see the commitment and the passion on display. I want to thank each of you who has taken the time and given so much to serve with Rising Star Outreach. You are the lifeblood of our program and you give validation to those you touch, teach, and lift in India. The people we serve know of our love collectively because they see it in your eyes and feel it in your touch. Thank you for stepping forward and showing the world what love really looks like.

The work of Rising Star Outreach is one of love, service, and advancing the role and position of people who deserve better. We believe that no one should be stigmatized or forgotten, especially those affected by a disease that is both treatable and curable. Everyone deserves dignity and respect and the opportunity to take steps forward in their own life and in their own community.

As each of you with so many others have stepped forward, this organization has grown from humble beginnings to touching and serving more than 20,000 people in the colonies we serve in India. From a small school of 27, we have grown more than tenfold and are formally educating more than 280 students and assisting in the educational support of more than 200 others! Education is the path through which individuals, communities, and even entire nations can step forward and lift one another.

The work of Rising Star Outreach continues to step forward and empower individuals to take out microloans and build microenterprises and to provide for themselves and their families. In 2014, our mobile medical program took a huge step forward as we opened our Trichy branch office and doubled the number of leprosy affected patients receiving medical support from Rising Star Outreach.

The future is bright for this special organization. I believe that in the coming years we will continue to build on the foundations that have been laid by those who have gone before.  At Rising Star Outreach, we believe that now it is our time to step forward. We don’t look back, we keep our hand to the plow, and today we are calling your name. Prepare yourself. It may require just a little bit of bravery, but I know that you can do it. Please STEP FORWARD with us. I promise it will be a wonderful journey!


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