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Foundation News

Janet's Market

Chris Rico

Looking for a motivator to clear out some of your home clutter? Selling unwanted home items with the proceeds going to Asian Elephant Support is helping AES Director Janet Dray get rid of lots things that were just taking up space.

Janet and a couple of her friends have rented a Sunday stall once a month for four months at their local Public Market. The sun gods were smiling on their June sale and brought a large crowd resulting in over $120 for AES and, as Janet points out happily, a much neater kitchen and bar area at her home! A small table was also set up at their stall entrance with AES info to help spread our message.

On Sunday July 14, Janet and her friends Marie Niedermeier and John Frontuto had a Christmas in July sale at the market with at least 7 big totes ready to go - including donations from several friends also clearing out their closets in support of AES!

See if your community hosts a Public Market Community Garage Sale. Get some friends together and have fun getting rid of (AKA recycling!) your clutter in support of Asian elephants. We would love to share your events and the elephants will benefit from your effort.

2019 Director's Meeting

Chris Rico

June 7 - 8, 2019
Cincinnati, Ohio

Val Nastold and President Linda Reifschneider

Since in existence, AES has traveled its annual in-person board meeting among various directors’ homes. As our board grows, having our meeting in any one home is becoming more complicated and so earlier in the year, President Linda Reifschneider suggested we start selecting our annual meeting site to coincide with the location of one of the several zoos that have been consistent supporters of our work. This would provide an opportunity to say "thank you" in person for that institution’s support. As director Christine Del Turco would be visiting friends in the Cincinnati area around our annual meeting dates, she suggested Cincinnati Zoo. That was a solid choice as we have benefited for multiple years from their zoo’s fundraising for Asian elephant conservation with their behind-the-scenes-tours in their elephant barn.

AES Board Members: Barbara Davis, Linda Reifschneider, hippos Fiona and her mother Bibbi, Janet Dray, Christine DelTurco

Linda reached out to Cecil Jackson,Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden Elephant Manager, and while he would be out of town on our meeting dates, he was delighted we had selected Cincinnati Zoo and Val Nastold, Jr. would take care of us. Our idea was simply to say "thank you" in person and Linda would treat the board and barn crew to dinner. (Funds donated to AES are used only for projects that benefit Asian elephants and those who care for and/or must live their lives among the elephants.) Val and the Cincinnati crew had other ideas! 😊

Vanessa Gagne and Christine DelTurco

Val helped set up our lodging reservations to ensure we were close to the zoo. He also secured a conference room on zoo grounds for the two days of our meeting; saw that we benefited from the staff’s 50% discount at the cafeteria at lunch; gave us a wonderful visit to their barn (always a very special time for all the AES board); set up a meet and greet for zoo staff and volunteers; and, with Friday night just happening to be the Zoo’s “Zoo La La” gala, secured an attendance lanyard for each board member. Talk about Friday evening dinner! The weather was resort quality, the food, and drinks were excellent, and delightful entertainment made for an unexpected and most humbly appreciated ‘perk’ we certainly never expected.

AES board members and Cincinnati Zoo elephant crew

Saturday night, Linda finally got to treat AES board and Cincinnati Zoo elephant barn team to dinner at A Taste of Denmark. And what a fitting venue for we ‘elephant folk’ – their signature brew, Delerium has a logo of a pink elephant and the stem is shaped to represent an elephant’s trunk!

Of course we visited the gift shop for a remembrance of this special year’s annual meeting location and gifted each elephant crew member with an AES tee shirt.

Not only did we have a productive board meeting, we had the opportunity to say ‘thank you’ in person to those who care for and about Asian elephants passionately – and the opportunity to enjoy each other’s company in a social setting.

Thank you, Cincinnati! We came to say thank you; we leave also saying thank you – Val, you sure did set that bar ‘way up there’! THANK YOU!!!

Helium Comedy Club Fundraiser

Chris Rico

As mentioned in our previous newsletter, a fundraiser for AES was held last month at The Helium Club in Buffalo, NY.

Since there are no California Pizza Kitchen restaurants (or even Asian elephants) in western New York, some of us were feeling left out of the AES Annual April ‘Pizza for Pachyderms’ fundraising event. Mindy Ussrey, former Buffalo Zoo Elephant Manager thought of an alternative that resulted in raising $535 for AES on Saturday May 18, 2019. Mindy worked in conjunction with a local Buffalo, NY comedy club ‘The Helium’ to host an event before one of their performances. The Helium allowed us to receive a portion of the tickets sales that we sold as well as provided a table for us to promote and raise more funds for AES.

So even though the two Buffalo Zoo Asian elephants Jothi and Surapa had relocated to New Orleans earlier in the year, their former manager Mindy initiated, organized, and set up a very successful fundraiser for AES. She had support from a very generous Seneca Park Zoo (SPZ), SPZ Assistant Curator Lindsay Brinda, and the four SPZ African elephants – Chana, Moki, Genny C, and Lilac. Lindsay not only helped in selling an amazing number of tickets to the event but also provided elephant paintings for sale to the public. AES Board member Janet Dray supported the event by sewing and selling embroidered laptop cases and recycled tote bags as well as provided items for an AES gift basket raffle. We also sold AES bumper stickers and handed out AES brochures.

Including the entertainment it was a very fun evening with friends, family and coworkers supporting AES through ticket sales, 50/50 raffle, gift basket raffle, item sales and donations. As an additional benefit – Mindy created a wonderful AES information display which we plan to reuse for more outreach opportunities. Huge thanks to Mindy Ussrey and Lindsay Brinda along with Buffalo zookeepers Steve Ussrey and Gary Steele for making this a wildly successful evening. Your enthusiasm and commitment in supporting AES is inspiring, contagious and very much appreciated.

Thinking outside of the box, there are many ways to support AES fundraising efforts and have fun even if there are no CPKs in your location. We are looking forward to seeing more ideas on how people are raising funds in support of AES efforts.

Sophie's 50th Birthday Bash

Chris Rico

Little Rock Zoo celebrates Sophie while raising funds for AES

Little Rock Zoo celebrates Sophie while raising funds for AES

Nothing like packing up a SUV full of AES merchandise and informational handouts knowing you are heading to a 100% rainout! But with 6 big watermelon also already packed to go, Linda and volunteer Cynthia Christison head out.

Linda and Heidi

Linda and Heidi

Arriving in Little Rock early Friday afternoon, we drive to Conway for dinner with our advisor, Heidi Riddle. It is always a good visit and opportunity to talk about future funding possibilities for AES. Oh, and the weather was lovely on Friday.

The rain was already in full force with the rising sun on Saturday and the weatherman’s 100% rain prediction was 100% accurate. So some computer work, shopping, a movie, and dinner with the elephant barn crew made our Saturday.

Luckily the weatherman was right again with his prediction that the rain would be gone by Sunday morning and so the zoo decided to celebrate their Sophie that day. Although chilly and windy, the turnout was good and a very fun and interactive event took place with children decorating brown lunch bags, filling them from buckets of chopped produce, and then being able to place them in the yard where Sophie would find her birthday presents. Birthday cake and punch for all was also provided, and the zoo’s public is always kind to AES, purchasing our merchandise, giving donations, and showing a real interest in our efforts for Sophie’s “cousins” in Asia.

Little Rock Zoo has been a dependable supporter of our work for a number of years now, and we can only say, THANK YOU!
We appreciate you very much.