Chakra Announcements

The Mother of All Service Projects

by Caru Das

Posted May 4, 2007

What made this morning's service project here the MOTHER of all projects were 1) the number of volunteers involved, 175 kids and 30 adults, and 2) the high level of organization.

Robert Baird, co director with his brother David (David has been to Vrndavan with Shree Sharma and brought a group last year) of the Historical Arts Restoration Company, called months ago to set up the project. He has visited here several times, sent his adult team leaders out here, drawn up with Vai an extensive materials list, and even made a video of the temple and the projects needing completion. Last Wednesday at an organizational meeting at their stake center in Sugarhouse, Salt Lake City (50 miles away), the kids and team leaders viewed the video to get up to speed.

This Saturday morning the volunteers started arriving by 8 am. They immediately went to their allotted area, picked out the proper tools and within 60 seconds of stepping foot on the property started to work. There were 7 major projects.

  1. Painting five sheds, including the trim.
  2. Clearing weeds from the edge of the lake, putting down black ground cloth to keep the weeds from regrowing, and planting flats of ground cover.
  3. Widening the stage by 8 feet, which involved an lot of digging, measuring and pouring concrete footings.
  4. Digging and again pouring footings for the pedestals of two brass elephants to either side of the grand staircase
  5. Last week Pat Darrington, head of a local landscape company, donated the equipment, and time to cut down and chew into wood chips a huge dead cottonwood tree at the edge of our property. The cut logs were arranged to enhance the existing natural obstacle course for the llamas, and a trail of wood chips was laid out.
  6. The driveway up to the temple had big pot holes, which were all leveled as far as possible by hand and filled with road base.
  7. A park was created on the east side of the property similar to the one on the north side that David Baird and his volunteers created last year. Again, ground cloth was stapled and several tons of gravel spread by hand.

Each group took a 20-25 minute interval during which Caru gave them a tour of the temple interior. He took 210 people through in groups of 30 kids and five or six adults, a total of 7 tours. Among the volunteer adults and group leaders were the Stake President Kent Cannon, Ceo of Beneficial Life insurance company, Mike Moffat, owner of Gold Cross Ambulance, Dave Burbridge of Burbridge Waste Disposal. Other names without biographies were Tim Hatch, Brian Gochnour, Jim Boyce, Craig Ebhert, Reid Stringham, Robert Hogan and then only first names of Josh, Syd, John (Okland Construction), Tony, Keith (Dentist), Natalie, and Clint (Judge).

Shree Sharma showed up with Vijaya around noon, and in a gesture of hospitality, donated 400 "sun poppers," cool sun hats that pop open out of a carrying bag. We distributed them as gifts to all the kids who really liked them. Shree often accompanies Robert and brother David to India and Nepal. See more details about that in this archived Diary entry of a few months ago.

As task after task wound up, we all assembled around 1 pm on the front stairs for a group photo, an address by Stake President Cannon, and a blessing of the imminent lunch. Lunch was saag paneer, nut loaf, pasta, spaghetti, rice pilau, pineapple hallava, cookies, fudge, cheesecake, mango lemonade, and salad bar.

Henriett, Gerald, Mikela, and Ram Ranjana were working hard from the kitchen to keep the prasadam vessels full in the vanguard of long lines of youth.

After the kids had left, Robert, John, Brian, Clint, and several others worked more on the concreting, until all goals had been accomplished by 4 pm. Vai and Robert, the two principle architects of this most exceptional day, were captured on film. More resoundingly than ever, we devotees of Krishna have been overwhelmed by the generosity and "Christian Charity" of our Mormon friends and neighbors.