Members of the  Sathya Sai Center of Charlotte, NC, participated in two community parades and enthusiastically shared the five human values of truth, right conduct, peace, love and nonviolence with thousands of Charlotte residents.

On August 31, 2019, about 70 Charlotte Sai Center members, including Sai Spiritual Education (SSE) children, took part in the Matthews Alive Community Parade, one of the largest annual Labor Day weekend parades in Charlotte. More than 15,000 people from over 100 organizations participated in the parade, including non-profit organizations, local churches and public schools.  The parade’s theme, “Attitude of Gratitude”, particularly resonated with Sathya Sai Baba’s teachings.

SSE children spent four weeks arduously preparing placards and banners for the event, with the help of their teachers and parents.  On the day of the parade, everyone brimmed with sheer joy and excitement as they walked along the parade route holding their placards with inspiring quotes on the five human values. Bright orange balloons inscribed with human values were distributed to little children lined up along the parade route. The boisterous crowd cheered and waved their hands, nodding with great approval at the affirmative value messages while they heard value songs playing melodiously from the float.  The Matthews Police personnel expressed their appreciation to the Sai Center for reminding everyone of the importance of human values. All the proceeds of the parade were donated to local non-profit organizations.

The first Walk for Values event was such a grand and joyous success that Sai Center members were inspired to seek another parade they could participate in. With God’s Grace, they found the annual 66th Union County Christmas Parade held on November 24, just in time to commemorate Sai Baba’s birthday. A long-held annual holiday tradition organized by the Alliance for Children, the parade was attended by more than 20,000 people and supported by over 200 local organizations, businesses, churches and public schools.

About 60 Charlotte Sai Center members, including SSE children, participated in the event. The children uplifted everyone’s spirits with their beaming smiles and joyous Christmas caroling, while they waved cheerfully to the crowd. Sai Center members again distributed value balloons to the little children in the crowd. People cheered on the Sai contingent and expressed their approval for the various inspiring value quotations on the placards. All the proceeds from the parade were donated to low income families to help strengthen their children’s health, education, and emotional development

The Walk for Values events were truly uplifting for Sai Center members. They felt they were ambassadors of Sathya Sai Baba’s message of love, and many echoed that they felt inspired to practice Baba’s teachings even more intensely. It was a wonderful community outreach effort as many onlookers were curious to know more about the Sathya Sai International Organization (SSIO).

The SSE teachers felt especially proud and gratified when a Group 3 (12 to 15 years of age) student explained with great self-confidence to the attendees about the SSIO. “We are the Sri Sathya Sai International Organization (SSIO) of North America. We are a multi-faith group that believes in all religions, including Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and Zoroastrianism. We live by the five human values of truth, love, peace, nonviolence and right conduct.  Our group’s motto is Love All, Serve All.” A Sai Center member succinctly encapsulated the members’ experience when he said, “Truly uplifting to see so many people, young and old, being inspired by the five human values, and what a wonderful way to communicate Baba’s universal message of love and service.”