The responsibilities of our own personal lives can pull us in so many directions and it is easy to forget about the bigger picture of what is going on in our community, our country, or our world. To give freely of yourself without expecting anything in return is one of the best gifts you can give. My yoga journey has led me all over the world, completely immersing me in different cultures, and I am so grateful for what I have learned in my personal and professional life. It has always been a priority of mine to give back where I can. It's amazing how one small act of kindness can make such an impact in someone's life, and in return, bring so much joy into your own. Below are some of the organizations, outreach and charities I am proud to be a part of.
URBAN ZEN FOUNDATION
In 2008, Andrea raised $11,000 for the Urban Zen Foundation. The Urban Zen Foundation's 12-month Urban Zen Integrative Therapist (UZIT) program is a groundbreaking, advanced program that includes training in yoga therapy, aromatherapy, reiki, nutrition and an insightful education into the subject of death and dying. The program provides broad knowledge and expertise to practitioners, preparing them to use these integrative therapies in a variety of health care settings, including private practice. With the money raised, the Seva Scholarship was created which paid part of the tuition for three practitioners. The qualified practitioners had a strong desire to join the UZIT program and would not have been able to do so without the help of the Seva Scholarship.
Andrea was invited by the Urban Zen Foundation to join the first weekend so she could fully grasp what the program entailed and understand the 12-month curriculum. The training focused on how to address pain, anxiety, nausea, insomnia, constipation and fatigue (key patient symptoms). Different modalities are reviewed in detail such as in-bed postures and movements, restorative poses, breath awareness and meditation. The program brings consciousness into mainstream health care and educates practitioners to help make a more positive experience for the patient, their family, and the hospital staff. She worked closely with Donna Karen, Sonja Nuttall, Rodney Yee, and Colleen Saidman Yee and was filled with inspiration and gratitude for the passion and commitment that shone through the entire program. It was truly an honor for her to help fundraise and support this groundbreaking program and she has loved watching in grow since its inception.
THE CAMBODIAN CHILDREN'S FUND
Through the Off the Mat Seva Challenge, Andrea helped raise $21,000 for The Cambodian Children's Fund (CCF). In February 2009, she spent two weeks in Phnom Penh, Cambodia working with the children at CCF. It was an incredible, humbling and life changing experience. There was an intense sorrow and overwhelming joy she felt and experienced while she was in Cambodia. She went to Cambodia to study the history of the Khmer Rogue genocide, to visit the garbage dump and slums that the CCF children grew up in. During her time there, she worked at all six CCF facilitie, as well as the rice patties in a small village outside the city. She hopes to help bring more awareness to what this country has been through and to help people understand what a miracle CCF is to this community.
TURKS & CAICOS OUTREACH PROJECT
In 2010, Andrea worked on an outreach project in Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI), in the British Virigin Islands. It was her Seva (selfless service) project for the year and she created an anti-litter and environmental campaign to get kids excited about keeping the islands clean. She worked closely with three vibrant and passionate local women and together, they created an informational and picture-loaded presentation about the environment, garbage, anti-litter, the three R's (reduce, re-use, recycle), waste management systems and more. They went to every school in the country, 46 in total, and spoke to hundreds of children. Through each presentation, she watched students squeal with laughter, shoot their hands up to say the right answer, ask insightful questions, and fight over who got to demonstrate how to pick up trash and put it in a garbage bin. It was a lot of work but very worthwhile. It is her drea that in ten years time, TCI is the cleanest country in the Caribbean. Andrea liced in Turks & Caicos for almost four years and met her husband there. It is a special place that is very close to her heart and this service project was just a small way she could give back to a place and community that gave her so much in her own life to be thankful for.
If you have questions about any of these programs, please don't hesitate to reach out.