THEOSOPHICAL ORDER OF SERVICE - AMERICAN SECTION
ANNUAL REPORT to September 30, 2014
The TOS in the USA is governed by a board of seven directors: Nancy Secrest, president; Kathy Gann, secretary; and board members, Tim Boyd, Christine Cianciosi, Jon Knebel, Lloyd Standish and Rozi Ulics. Betty Bland, our treasurer, and our two honorary board members, Joe Gullo and Miles Standish assist us by offering valuable insights gained from their many years of service to the TOS.
Many of our TSA branches and study centers have appointed a member to act as a liaison to the national TOS board. Liaisons keep us up to date on service projects in which their individual groups participate. Kathy Gann continues to do a wonderful job as liaison coordinator. She assists whenever local TOS groups need help with ideas or in getting started on a project. In addition, funds have been set aside for groups to request as ‘seed’ money, if needed, to help them begin new service projects. Kathy also publishes an e-Newsletter that is sent to the liaisons and group leaders on a bi-monthly basis.
We also have a TOS Action Group, located in Wheaton, IL. The group includes both TS members and non-members who band together to carry out TOS service projects. This year they assisted needy people with food selection at the People’s Resource Center, served meals at a local homeless shelter, provided gifts and food for needy families at Christmas, assisted with our Native American Rosebud project and gathered and donated school supplies and small toys to a group of teachers going to teach in India. The Wheaton Action Group has now joined forces with the Dharma Study Group (a TS study group) and the Drama Troupe (Olcott staff members and volunteers who give performances at nursing homes and assisted living facilities) on service projects.
Our healing network director, Diane Eisenberg, heads up a network consisting of groups and individuals who perform healing services on a regular basis. As of last year, names are now submitted and shared internationally.
Our animal healing network is directed by board member, Rozi Ulics. It works along the same lines as our regular healing network with a meditation designed specifically for animals and also shares names internationally.
Ananya Sri Ram Rajan is the editor of For The Love of Life, our magazine. This year our Spring 2014 issue focused on “Animals” and was highly praised by its readers. The theme of our Winter 2014/15 issue will be “Women’s Issues” in keeping with the current international TOS focus on the well-being of women and girls around the world. We also published a Newsletter in August updating our members on current activities. We continue to assist the international TOS by distributing copies of their publication, Helping the Dying. We distributed many of these booklets in both English and Spanish at the Inter-American Theosophical Federation Congress held at Olcott, the TS headquarters in the US, in July of this year. In addition, our TOS informational brochure, produced last year, is now being included in every new member’s packet that is sent out by the Theosophical Society in America.
This year, we focused on several projects and programs:
- We continued to work toward the objectives set out in our Plan of Action for the TOS-USA. A presentation on the TOS was given at two groups on the west coast and at the Mid-South Federation meeting. More visits will be made this year. A committee was formed, as outlined in the Action Plan, to recommend updates to our TOS resource materials. Their ideas were presented to the TOS Board and are being evaluated. The revision of our TOS website is nearing completion. Our website will now more closely reflect the principles and current activities of the TOS-USA, and is scheduled to be available for use on or before January 1, 2015. We are also exploring a joint project with our local Round Table children’s organization to write, illustrate and publish a book of children’s stories based on service. It is our hope that the stories will be either written by or based on concepts for stories provided by the children themselves.
- We worked closely with the international TOS on the collection of donations to the Golden Link School/College in the Philippines. These donations combined with a matching grant from the Kern Foundation in the US, allowed us to send over $40,000 to the school again this year.
- In most areas our battery recycling program has been so successful that many city wide recycling departments have adopted battery recycling themselves, making our efforts no longer necessary. In other areas the program to recycle or safely dispose of used D cell or smaller batteries remains in effect.
- The Rosebud and Pine Ridge reservations in the USA are among the poorest in the country. Karen McCormick continues the TOS work with these Native Americans. We provide school supplies for the children and winter coats, blankets and Christmas gifts for the children and elders. Miles Standish, honorary TOS board member, and his computer club refurbish older computers and donate them for the use of students at these reservations. They also continue to assist a Native American newspaper with computer services.
- The TOS-USA board voted, for the fourth year in a row, to grant a scholarship to a Native American student from the Oglala Lakota College School of Nursing. The award will help cover the student’s tuition and books for one year. The student is selected by the college based on criteria set by the TOS. The Oglala Lakota College is located on the Pine Ridge reservation in North Dakota. Although the award is given to an individual, we feel that a student with a degree in a service profession, such as nursing, will benefit countless others for many years to come.
- We also granted funds to DuPage County PADS, a local homeless shelter. In addition, funds were granted to Safe Haven for Cats in North Carolina, and The Beagle Freedom Project. This group provides shelter for Beagles, and some other animals, that have been used as research animals in labs. Grants were also given to the Grace Children’s Foundation in New York, Books for Kids, in Oregon and Washington, who provide books to children who have never owned them, and Save World Art, an organization dedicated to preserving indigenous art forms worldwide.