their commitment with HUGGS. Helen Kline was on the Board 2006-2012 and returned for the anniversary year 2017-2018. Nick Bodie served on the Board 2014-2019. HUGGS Canada will miss their expertise, and wishes them all the very best.
HUGGS is delighted to welcome Rachel Samuel as a Director. Rachel has been a volunteer over the past few years, helping put together student information and assisting at events.
Nargis Abraham brings her years of board experience to the position of HUGGS Chair, and Marilyn Gullison continues as a Director.
Here are some words from Nick, Helen and Rachel:
"It is with sadness and many fond memories that I depart from the Board of Directors of HUGGS Canada. Since joining the Board in 2014, I have had the distinct pleasure of working with some exceptional individuals. HUGGS is like a family and I have been and will continue to be a proud member of this special group of people"
"It's been a privilege and a joy to be associated with HUGGS over the past 12 years. What's been most rewarding is meeting students and seeing how their lives expand and flourish in the HUGGS program and then afterwards, making a difference for their own lives, their families, and their communities. So many fine people to work with too! You will always be important to me, HUGGS - thank you!"
"I was first introduced to HUGGS' as a student in the Global Stewardship Program at Capilano University. I volunteered with HUGGS for a number of years. I am passionate about global health and am a registered nurse, now working at BC Children's Hospital."
HUGGS' 15th Anniversary celebrations were a resounding success! The highlight was Coordinator Madhulata's visit, thanks to BCCIC's award for Leadership Excellence. Madhu had a packed schedule for the nine days she was with us: presenting the story of her work at the BCCIC AGM and HUGGS' Gala Dinner, visiting some of our sponsors in the Lower Mainland and on the Island, and meeting with local directors and staff.
The Gala Dinner celebrating HUGGS' fifteen years was held on Saturday, September 15 at The View in North Vancouver, a splendid location befitting the occasion. The elegant setting was a perfect backdrop for the opening performance by dancers "Dance for Good" from The Victory Arts Foundation, followed by Madhulata's presentation. Comedian, Erica Sigurdson, added a light touch, and the food and silent auction were enjoyed by all.
The local Telugu community organized a fundraiser for HUGGS on September 29, aptly titled "Raise the Stats." A variety show included a performance of Indian language songs by UBC students, a Bharata Natyam dance, and a slide show on HUGGS' work in Vizag. Dinner followed. The event was well attended and raised a tidy sum. Thank you!
Thanks to our generous donors, HUGGS successfully completed the Anniversary Matching Gift Campaign, raising $30,000!
Dance for Good Performers
Madhulata with Event guests
2019: What's Happening So Far
The year began with the student selection process in Vizag. Coordinator Madhulata and Administrator Bobby David examined application forms, visited the applicants' homes, and interviewed 31 candidates for HUGGS' sponsorship starting in June 2019. Dr. Sheila Thangaraj, a long-time friend of HUGGS, sat in on the interviews. Now we await these applicants' final grades from high school (Grade 10) to determine who qualifies, and who will be awarded sponsorships. About 8-10 new students will join the HUGGS family this year.
Student with Parents at the Interview
The Interview Panel
A Student Success Story: Lavanya Sri
"The very first time I met her, I knew she would go places" - that was Azmina's impression of Lavanya Sri back in 2014. And Lavanya did not disappoint. During her time as a student with HUGGS, she was a bubbly young woman, always ready to help. When she graduated in 2015, Lavanya accepted a job at CADD Centre Training Services. But her ambition did not stop there.
Towards the end of 2018, Lavanya started her own business with her fiancé, Siddhartha. The business aims to train engineering students in design software, and provide them with job placements. Lavanya and Siddhartha were married on February 28 in a traditional ceremony attended by several HUGGS students and staff (picture below). Responding to a congratulatory message from HUGGS Canada, Lavanya wrote back saying, "My success is all because of HUGGS and the credit goes to HUGGS!"
Art Gratitude from the Father of a Student
"HUGGS is the tree with branches that protect and encourage students to grow".