Recently, AAI parents organized a family gathering in Salt Lake City, Utah. About 70 people attended and brought many items for donation to Layla House. Many thanks to Amy Brandt and Kristie Wilkins for doing so much to put the gathering together. Below is Amy's description of the event:
children doing crafts at the kids' table
Several AAI families and friends gathered in a Salt Lake City area church on Saturday, April 9 to meet Merrily and Ted Ripley and support AAI’s humanitarian projects in Ethiopia. Merrily and Ted were in town to visit family, and it was wonderful for adoptive (and prospective and waiting adoptive) families to be able to put names and faces together and to share conversation with the agency’s director.
Children of all ages, from babies to teenagers, were in attendance and the younger ones enjoyed impromptu games of ball and tag while families met the Ripleys and each other. Several families only knew each others' names from the AAI listserve, so it was great to be able to meet in person.
As people arrived, the donation table for Ethiopia overflowed. Families brought formula and cloth diapers for Wanna House, and school and art supplies for Layla and partner orphanages. A family traveling in April offered to transport the donations; hopefully they had lots of room in their luggage!
After families shared a potluck dinner and conversation, Merrily began her presentation about adoption and humanitarian projects in Ethiopia. She showed a video of waiting children created by Emma Dodge Hanson, photographer for the book Faces of Layla. She also spoke about Opportunity House, AAI's facility for special needs children at Layla House and other humanitarian projects. AAI's Family Quilt Project in the photo below helps fund all these efforts. Families at the gathering were the first to see it in person. It's starting to look so beautiful as leaves, stars and animals are being added when people donate to honor a loved one!
Thanks to Merrily and Ted for being the impetus behind this gathering. Salt Lake City area families are planning a fall fundraiser for AAI Humanitarian Programs on September 17, at Washington Park in Parley’s Canyon, with Ethiopian food, children's activities, and Ethiopian items for auction. Anyone in the area is welcome to attend!
We are always happy to help people organize gatherings. If you would like to do one in your area, please contact Susan Poisson-Dollar, AAI Director of Development.