The Shelter is beautiful. It functions in a sea of spaciousness and caring. That it came together as it did, could not have happened without these very special folks. In chronological order:
Derek O'Neill, of Prema Agni Foundation
now called "SQ Foundation"
Derek heard about us and our work through a mutual friend, way at the beginning. We were told to show up in Puttaparthi to receive a check for $10,000. And there was much, much more that followed. He was a sweetheart, sent by God to underwrite our efforts and cheer us on.
Until just recently, he and his foundation have been the financial core of the entire project. It's his faith in us and his funds given lovingly that enabled us to flourish. The entire physical facility was almost wholly funded by Derek and his foundation.
It is no exaggeration to say that we wouldn't be anything like what we came to be without him and his Foundation. They do wonderful work, and we encourage anyone who would like to underwrite wonderful "lifting suffering" projects, to donate to the SQ Foundation. Thank you dear Derek.
Prema, who for a number of years was connected with PFA, was the main person who joined with us in stopping the killing. Hers was a major, major energy. We sometimes call her "Prema the Tigress". And many times along the way she has contacted individuals in the Indian bureaucracy and government who were able to use their influence to get around (or through) what seemed to be insurmountable obstacles.
She buoyed our spirits through the many battles we had to fight. And her support was indispensable. She functioned for a number of years as our President/Trustee. She is a trusted advisor and warrior supreme. And very much a part of the ongoing effort.
HHe was the sitting commissioner when first we approached the Municipality. Through growing trust in me, he arranged, finally, to get us the use of the remarkable piece of land on which the Shelter rests. It's only through his efforts that we have it. And it is, indeed, supremely important. After his retirement in June, 2006 he joined with us to advise and help in our dealings with government.
He's a trusted advisor and friend who provided us with many things and arrangements we might not otherwise have. He's on our Board of Trustees. We consult with him regularly about government and bureaucratic issues. His energy, and ongoing, continuous help are profoundly important. The amount of time and effort he puts into our project are almost unimaginable.
Chandra Mouli of Ramana Ashram
Until we opened in January, 2007 Chandra Mouli advised us in the complicated business dealings with both civilians and government. He's an excellent human being. His counsel helped steady us in very stormy times.
Clementien offered her organization as a fiscal umbrella so we didn't have to set up our own NGO, and could concentrate on the founding. She has, perhaps, one of the finest shelters in the Nation and was the main source of advice as Leslie fought the early battles and dealt with the issues attendant to setting up a shelter. She was his teacher. She showed us how to set up the operation theatre, provided the initial system for us. and the initial ordering. She's among the best - and we couldn't have gotten better if it had been necessary to move in
Denise is a fervent animal lover, who was a comrade-in-arms during those first three months in which we would have collapsed into a quivering heap of dust had it not been for her support. They were the most difficult months. Her energy was boundless. Her encouragement and support was critical.
Gina came to help Leslie several months after the killing was stopped and on the day he received the offer of the land from the Municipality on which the shelter was built. She was an enormous support during the building of the Shelter and her aesthetic sense was one of the main keys to the beauty of the shelter compound. Her "shinning, warm" personality helped immensely in public relations. It would be difficult to overstress the importance of that support as Leslie dealt with the complex of building, political and bureaucratic obstacles.
Our friend ( who became our friend while we worked together). He's another one of those over-the-edge, crazy animal lovers, like us. He's the one who does all our PR.(Leslie sometimes calls him O'Great One). He's the guy who developed our Shelter Moments videos and wrote-shot-directed-produced-narrated that wonderful 21 minute DVD you may have seen. We didn't even know anything about it until that first day we saw it. He's also the guy that designed our logo and this website. He is part of the inner-inner group and is a vital part of the unfolding and survival of the Shelter. Wow. Pretty heavy statement. But true.
She is one of the few people who, when compared to her, makes me feel as if I am insensitive to the dogs. When she shows up at the Shelter (which is almost everyday), scores of tails start wagging. She does our bookkeeping, amongst many other things. But the major activity is the infusion of her special loving/caring energy into the Shelter. Many hours during the day she spends riding around feeding, caring, loving the street dogs. And moving to get help for any that need it. She is a trusted advisor on issues confronting the Shelter. She is our present President/Trustee.
Richard is the newest entrant. November 2012, he came to the Shelter for a photo shoot. Surprise of surprises, he turned out to be a world class photographer. When he showed up with his equipment I thought we were going to do a space launch. Better yet, he turned out to be an excellent human being. And blessing of blessings, he loved our Shelter and our work. As fate would have it, he also turned out to be a heavy on the computer. Websites. Newsletters. And our beloved Ken is not a tech kind of guy. Well as I write this thank you, Richard is working with Ken, to technologically bring us into the 22nd century. No mean task. Has been going on for over a month now. Our new website, technically sleek, and the latest, should be launched shortly. You are probably reading this on the new site. This is extremely important for us. And Richard, we're so glad to have you with us.
Thank You All ... We Love You.