Offering of Love and Devotion to Sathya Sai Baba (Aradhana), USA
USA Sai centers enthusiastically embraced Aradhana Day (April 24th) with a variety of activities, with many undertaking week long Go-Green Envirocare activities in honor of Earth Day, April 22 and in conjunction with the SSIO’s global Serve the Planet (STP) Initiative.
In the Northeast Region, Young Adults held Study Circles on Sai Baba's teachings about Mother Nature and provided tips on reducing the use of plastic, generating greater enthusiasm among Sai Center members to adopt more eco–friendly habits in their daily lives. SSIO members in upstate New York spent the day working in the Sai Garden at Assisi Insitute in Rochester, NY while in Connecticut, they weeded and cleaned at the Fairgate Farm, a small, volunteer-run organic farm. In the Boston area, SSIO members helped out at the Habitat Education Center and Wildlife Sanctuary in Belmont, Massachusetts.
Sai Centers in the Mid-Atlantic Region engaged in a myriad of activities across the region, such as tree planting and stream, marsh, neighborhood and beach cleanups. Center presentations, study circles and Sai Spiritual Education classes on Sai Baba’s Teachings about Mother Nature and the Ceiling on Desires program helped inspire and encourage Sai Center members to observe “Sai Go-Green Week” and make environmentally wise choices such as using biodegradable and compostable disposables, and carrying Sai Green Kits to Sai events.
In New York City, the Flushing Sai Center held its 4th Annual Medical Camp which served 95 residents in East Elmhurst and included dental checkups and eye examinations for the first time. Similarly, in Virginia, the Falls Church and Loudoun centers held a medical camp for the Spanish-speaking community. In Maryland, the South Bethesda Center held a month long of service activities. Center members cooked and served lunch at a local crisis center, cleaned and packed eye glasses for needy individuals overseas, and donated children books to a not-for-profit used bookstore and an elementary School. A food drive was also hosted for families of very sick children. The month-long observance concluded with a breakfast service to low-income immigrant communities and a dinner service for two hundred people in a homeless shelter.
Pacific South Centers of Arcadia, Glendale and Camarillo observed Aradhana Day by packing 750 bags of dry food and 250 toiletry bags to distribute to poor farming families in Oxnard, California. Volunteers packed toiletry bags and 50 pound bags of 17 different kinds of canned and dry food items. Approximately 20 volunteers traveled over 75 miles to distribute three food bags and one toiletry bag to each of the 250 families. The joy and love expressed by every recipient warmed the hearts of each volunteer, who felt so grateful for the opportunity to serve this very needy community.
In the Southwest Region, the Boulder Sai Center, Colorado, decided to conduct deep kitchen cleaning at the Community Table (CT) program where they had served dinner once a week for nearly twenty years. A deep clean to the kitchen would not just benefit the meal recipients, but also other organizations that serve meals at the CT. Refrigerators were cleaned both inside and out, stoves and cabinets were scrubbed while bathroom and kitchen floors were degreased and thoroughly cleaned. The church's maintenance person was amazed at how enthusiastic, happy and industrious SSIO members were and was even more appreciative when he learned about the SSIO’s focus on service.
SSIO members of Northern California and Nevada observed Aradhana Day as Sai Reflection Day with a devotional program, inspirational speakers and plays by Sai Spiritual Education students on the life of Sai Baba and His message. The region carried out a service project to help local animal shelters, by making pet toys and pet beds from recycled materials such as used bath towels, jeans, T-shirts, bedsheets, blankets and tube socks. Volunteers, comprised of very young children to the elderly, created 900 cat and dog toys and 50 pet beds which were delivered to various animal shelters.