Noe Valley Voice February 2005

Noe Valley Opens Hearts and Wallets for Tsunami Victims

By Olivia Boler

The Dec. 26, 2004, tsunami that killed upwards of 250,000 men, women, and children in South Asia and Africa was one of the worst natural disasters in recorded history. In the weeks and months following the event, Noe Valley, like so many communities around the world, took up the cause of sending relief to victims and survivors of the tragedy.

In mid-January, the Noe Valley Ministry, San Francisco Live Arts, and ShadowLight Productions put on a benefit that raised close to $5,000 for victims in Indonesia. The donations they collected were passed on to two local Indonesian organizations: Wahli, the Indonesian Friends of the Earth; and IDEP, a sustainable-living organization. "These two groups are first-responders, and their aid is given directly to the people," says Larry Reed, who helped coordinate the event.

For those who missed out on the benefit, Reed encourages donations through the Tides Foundation, a nonprofit that has set up a special relief fund for the hardest-hit Indonesian tsunami victims (

On Tuesday, Feb. 15, from 6 to 8 p.m., the Friends of Noe Valley, along with the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association and the Noe Valley Farmers Market, will continue the fundraising effort with a tsunami benefit at 24th Street's Bliss Bar.

"From Noe Valley With Love" was originally scheduled as a fundraiser for the Noe Valley Library, but "after the tsunami, people kept asking, 'What can we do?'" says event organizer and Friends member Richard May. "So we switched our plans. A lot of people felt it was really important that we as a neighborhood do something for tsunami relief because hundreds of thousands of people were killed, there are millions of families and friends affected by the loss, and the rebuilding will go on for years."

Proceeds from the event will go to the American Red Cross and will be earmarked for victims of the Indian Ocean disaster. Along with hors d'oeuvres and a no-host bar, the benefit will feature a live-bid auction, with Supervisor Bevan Dufty playing the part of celebrity auctioneer. Items for auction will be provided by members of the Merchants Association, according to President Carol Yenne.

In the meantime, anyone who wants to reserve a spot for the benefit can sign up at Small Frys (4066 24th Street), Yenne's shop. Donations, from checks made out to the American Red Cross to loose pocket change, can also be made there, as well as at several shops along the 24th Street corridor, including Just for Fun, Martha & Bros., Tully's Coffee, See Jane Run, Starbucks, La Coterie, Forbeadin, and the Dubliner. There's also a table at the Noe Valley Farmers' Market, held Saturday mornings at 24th and Vicksburg streets.

"Both Just for Fun and Small Frys are also matching donations made by customers up to $500," Yenne says.

Suggested donations for the benefit are geared toward what the money will provide for tsunami victims. For example: $10 can fund inoculations for 10 people; $45 can buy cookware for three families; with $80, 40 people will get sleeping mats; and $175 will gain a family of five the temporary shelter of a tent.

In a similar vein, the Community Music Center at 544 Capp Street near 21st Street will host a benefit performance on Sunday, Feb. 13, at 5:30 p.m. Fifty percent of the $40 ticket will go to the international relief organization Save the Children. Two cabaret shows are included on the bill: a songfest featuring vocalist Leanne Borghesi and pianist Houston Allred; and a burlesque comedy revue by "faux queen" Anita Cocktail and the Diamond Daggers.

Other Noe Valley merchants are also taking the initiative to raise funds. Tully's Coffee is selling a "Tsunami Response" blend of coffee for $10. One hundred percent of the proceeds go to World Vision, a Christian relief organization providing material aid for victims, such as blankets, clothing, and food. Jin Kwon, owner of Apple Blossom on Castro Street, is also taking donations and sending them to the American Red Cross. By mid-January, she had raised about $500.

May Wichinrojjarun of Simply Chic on 24th Street has also put out a donation box, half of which will go to the American Red Cross and half to UNICEF. She also says that all profits from the candles sold in her shop will go to these organizations. The price of candles ranges from $8 to $32. Whichinrojjarun, who is originally from Bangkok, Thailand, says that no one from her family was hurt by the tsunami; however, a friend's family was vacationing in Phuket and remained missing in mid-January.

"For those who can help, even with small change, it makes a big difference for those who need things like clean water," she says. "These people are left with nothing, basically. To recover and rebuild will take time."

Up the street at Swatdee Thai Cuisine, manager Justin Vang says that all the employees' families back in Thailand are safe. If customers ask, Vang encourages them to give donations to one of three Thai temples in the Bay Area: Wat Buddhapradeep in San Bruno, Wat Mongkolratanaram in Berkeley, and Wat Buddhanusorn in Fremont. According to a waitress at Regent Thai on Church Street, who asked not to be named, all the restaurants' employees' families were unaffected by the tsunami, and Regent Thai workers have been sending donations to the San Bruno Thai temple.

For Yenne, who was in London with her family at the time the tsunami hit, the community's eagerness to help with disaster relief has been heartening. "There are lots of things that need our attention in Noe Valley, like raising funds for the library and getting the community business district going, but the show of support for something outside the neighborhood has been wonderful," she says.

Many Ways to Contribute

Three neighborhood organizations are sponsoring "From Noe Valley With Love," a fundraiser for victims of the Dec. 26 tsunami, at Bliss Bar, 4026 24th Street, on Tuesday, Feb. 15, from 6 to 8 p.m. Donations will go to the American Red Cross relief efforts.

If you are unable to attend or want to donate on your own, here is a list of resources suggested by Noe Valley residents and merchants:

American Jewish World Service,

American Red Cross,


Best Friends Animal Society,


Catholic Relief Services,

Doctors Without Borders,

The Humane Society of the United States,

Relief International,

Save the Children,

Tides Foundation,


United Way,

World Vision,

Bay Area Thai Temples

Wat Buddhapradeep in San Bruno, 650-615-9528

Wat Mongkolratanaram in Berkeley, 510-849-3419

Wat Buddhanusorn in Fremont, 510-790-2294