Monday, March 6, 2023

Ukraine Remains in Our Hearts…

Several of us went to visit our boots-on-the-ground friend Laura Pauli this past weekend in San Francisco. She is home now, but planning another return trip to Ukraine for a few months this summer to cook and serve meals with fellows food warriors that she cooked with at World Central Kitchen in Poland last year. They are on their own this time. Laura is so much more than a chef. Yes, she cooks like a superstar, but her heart is truly what draws us all to her work. Since returning from Ukraine, she has continued to raise funds for families who are in crisis…cold, hungry, grieving, sick, abandoned, vulnerable, homeless, raped, scared, dying, poor, and left wondering what has become of their everyday life, and how they will survive.

With Laura’s help, we have been able to identify many families who need our support. We have supported her in relocating many to other European countries, but now she is focused on those who have chosen to stay and fight, or to stay and resist the Russians goal to remove them.  The stories we've heard are horrific and we MUST continue to help where we can.

To this end, we are currently working on the following projects: 

·   1) To continue to make and deliver stoves for heat and cooking. It costs only $150.00 to have a stove built, pipes added, and then to deliver and install it into a home. Every family should have heat and the ability to cook, so this need will go on. 




2) To start repairing blown out windows in family homes, which are normally about $15.00 each.


3) To fill a pantry in Kyiv with food and water as supplies are extremely low at this moment, and they are foreseeing a water shortage as summer approached. This immediate goal is for $4,000.00 and will likely be ongoing.


4) To fill an immediate and life-saving need for $4,100.00 to buy bullet-proof vests for volunteer soldiers and humanitarian workers fighting and fielding supplies into Bakhmut, the current epicenter of the war and focus of Russia’s brutal attacks.


5) To purchase more boots to allay the outbreak of gangrene caused by bacterial infections because soldiers are sharing boots as they change shifts on the front lines. There are dozens of amputations reported each week due to this problem. Sturdy combat boots cost about $60.00 a pair.

We will continue to post updates and work directly with Dave Lowe, a volunteer soldier in Ireland, and his team in Kyiv. They are the true heroes, putting their lives at risk every day, constantly being shot at with bounties on their heads, and stepping into some scenes that we cannot even begin to fathom. Our support means the world to them and they have asked us to say thank you to all of you, for what you have done, and also for what we will continue to do. 


Take care of yourselves and those you love,


The Button Family and our growing team at Dream of a Better World


If you wish to support the work in Ukraine, please

 CLICK on this link, or 

CLICK on the “Support for Ukraine” button above.


Thank you all so much for your ongoing care and trust in our work!

Friday, February 10, 2023

With Gratitude for Another Year of Kindness and Generosity!

Thank you for all your support this past year! It seemed to fly by and there were so many needs as always, with the ongoing war in Ukraine being one of our biggest challenges. Thankfully, our friend Laura Pauli was there serving with World Central Kitchen, and her stories soon became our stories. We are all so grateful for her giant heart that rose up to make a difference, one family at  time.


We finished strong as always during the holidays, thanks to all of you, but this year was so much bigger than usual, with ongoing fundraisers in support of Ukraine and providing assistance to those suffering due to natural disasters and economic challenges. As we enter 2023, this is where our fundraising will continue, as the weather will be warming soon in Ukraine, the war has been relentless, and now we have more people suffering in Turkey, Syria, and even in our own backyard.


This is our 15th year of raising money is a grassroots way for small projects around the globe. None of these projects can happen without all of you. Your ideas, time, donations and ongoing encouragement keep us going every year. You now bring project ideas to us that are close to your heart, and many of you walk side by side us as we fill some of those very needs. So thank you!


Because of your generosity this past year, we have been able to:


·      Stock a local food pantry

·      Support educational programs for a family in Africa

·      Provide food, clothing, toys, diapers, gift cards, and a holiday celebration for a local shelter for abused men, women, and children

·      Help a family of four flee Ukraine to the Netherlands

·      Purchase boots for Ukrainian soldiers

·      Help a sewing circle in Ukraine to make safety vests

·      Offer love through a final gift box to a lonely, ill incarcerated prisoner

·      Supply gift bags to prisoners for the holidays

·      Support projects aimed at housing and offering end-of-life services to those who are dying homeless or in prison

·      Purchase dozens of handmade stoves, providing heat and a means to cook, for Ukrainians who are suffering through this very cold winter without electricity

·      Bring holiday joy to a hard-working cafeteria worker in New Orleans who cares for hurting children and spreads goodness to everyone, and asks nothing for herself

·      Support a single dad who is struggling to provide for his family

·      Assist our boots-on-the-ground friends in Ukraine to relocate many families by offering airline tickets, gas money, food, and shelter

·      Purchase wheelchairs, supplies, and offer other needs to the dying and their caregivers through the Bay Area End-of-Life Doula Alliance


We could never do all of this without YOU! Thank you for being part of our lives and for always believing in us.


With love and appreciation,


The Button Family and all of us at Dream of a Better World!

 As always, we want to remind you that 100% of your donation goes to the causes we support. Administrative and accounting responsibilities are provided pro bono. 

We would like to especially thank the amazing team at Friedlander, Cherwon, and Capper for generously donating your time and skills to provide us with our annual accounting and tax reporting needs!



Thank you ALL!  

Sunday, December 4, 2022

It’s that time of year. Let’s make a difference!

Just like years past, each holiday season we choose a few families, individuals, or organizations who could use a little holiday cheer as they are doing their very best to rise up through hard times and life’s challenges. This year we will start with these BEAUTIFUL people and INSPIRING projects:

In California...
A single dad, a gentle and humble man, who works day and night to pay rent and have enough food to eat for his two children, a young grandchild, and a niece. In addition to working as a handyman and painter, he is now studying for his contactors license to improve his ability to provide for his family. He is always upbeat and smiling, and operates out of a deep love for his family and for always doing what is right. Let’s make him smile even bigger by providing a Christmas dinner and some gifts for his family. 

Ebony with student Jake

New Orleans, Louisiana...

Ebony lives in New Orleans, Louisiana with her two teenage boys. She is a cafeteria worker, who made everyone feel at home. Unfortunately, her story is not unique to the average lower SES wage earner in New Orleans. What is unique is her overwhelming positivity, genuine kindness and infectious smile, despite the family burdens she selflessly carries.

Here’s a story about Ebony from Jake, a student from Tulane. "I can’t put my finger on the day, but I know within my first week of school she became my 'New Orleans Mama' and it continues today. We talk weekly, she remains ever positive, but I know her struggles continue. In summary, she works 6 days a week for Tulane. The minimum wage was somewhere in the ballpark of $8 per hour during my student years. She has raised her two boys without the support of the boys’ father, and her two -bedroom house now sleeps a handful of nieces and nephews. She lost two nephews this year to home invasion violence. When not working on campus for minimum wage - she makes sure her family is staying out of trouble in her neighborhood, helping with their homework assignments and attending their sports games. She works tirelessly, without complaint, just to make sure her family can eat a solid meal every night. Ebony is struggling to make ends meet and is left with hardly anything by the end of the month to take care of herself. Ebony brings so much good to this world and is deserving of every bit of help she could get. For a woman who gives everything within her power and beyond, I hope we can help make her life a little bit easier."
In Amsterdam...
This past fall we came together to support a young family from Ukraine. Bogdon, his wife, Yulia, and kids Lev and David. Their home in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine was destroyed in the shelling of a shopping center very close to them and they lost everything. They fled Ukraine to Poland and then to Amsterdam to start a new life. We raised funds for their hotels, gas, food, and for a place to stay for the first month in Amsterdam. They are finally settling in, with Bogdon working part time, their 7-year old now starting school and younger brother looking for a kindergarten. They reported that "there is a holiday in Holland, and 
everyone is waiting for the arrival of the sinterklas… it's like Santa Claus.” This sweet family is starting over with nothing but a carload of their life’s possessions and are doing their very best to keep a positive attitude and food on the table during a very hard time of adjustment for all of them.

In Prison...
This holiday season we would like to support those broken and separated from loved ones due to being incarcerated, with a special focus on those who are dying in prison. The Humane Prison Hospice Project is committed to implementing end of life care in prisons by supporting and training prisoners to be caregivers to the dying. In addition, our dear friend Pastor Alan Leigh is putting together holiday gift packages for the 900 men currently incarcerated at Halawa State Prison in Hawaii. Everyone needs and deserves to be loved. Let’s shine our holiday light on them, too!

Stove with Cooktop
In Ukraine... thousands are freezing cold, hungry, without power, and trying to survive in a country whose infrastructure is being decimated. Our contacts in Ukraine include an Irish soldier and a Ukrainian volunteer who are making wood burning stoves that
Stoves Hand Made in Ukraine

not only provide heat, but also have a flat top for cooking. They are currently being manufactured in Ukraine for approximately $100 to $150 each. Let’s help keep some Ukrainian families warm this winter!
Staff at Ukrainian Shelter

These are pictures of the stoves with cooktop capabilities we are ordering and having made in Ukraine. The group photo was taken at a shelter about 4 hours into Ukraine in a town called Ivano Frankvisk. This is part of the dedicated staff of this shelter that houses about 100 people that are too ill or incapable of traveling. Dave, and Irish soldier, delivers about 4 tons of food there once a month to keep them alive and healthy.

This is just some of our holiday giving. We will keep going as long as we can! Please share with us if you know of anyone who we might be able to add to our growing list. Remember that 100% of ALL donations goes directly to those we serve. And thank you all so much for your kind and generous hearts. As we pass another year of ups and downs, highs and lows, good times and hard times, we continue to be so, so grateful for the love, friendship, support, generosity, kindness, compassion and grace that you all bring to our lives.

Take care of yourself and those you love,

All of us at Dream of a Better World!

Sunday, July 24, 2022


A note to Dream of a Better World and all of our supporters.  There has not been nearly as much US news coverage lately, but for Ukraine... the WAR CONTINUES and their needs are great. This UPDATE comes straight from our Laura Pauli who is now in Poland, working with the woman who runs all of the volunteers for World Kitchen.  Here is her update and a few photos.

My name is Alina. I’m from Kherson, Ukraine originally but now I live in Poland. At the beginning of March, 2022 the city was invaded by Russia and is now occupied. A lot of people were trying to escape the city through other cities in Ukraine (Mykolaiv, Zaporizhzhia) or through another occupied territory- Crimea. The first way is much more dangerous, because officially there are no green corridors for citizens to leave the city safely. Families trying to flee Kherson, are unsure if they will survive or not. The second way through Crimea is easier as Russians feel that both territories are their property. Some citizens chose the second option to go through Russia to Georgia, Turkey, Poland etc.

Those who were unable to escape the city for any reason are now doing their best to survive. Kherson is now a humanitarian catastrophe. I have a short list of problems city has now:

1.     Humanitarian aid is not allowed to enter the city. The city is blocked by enemy forces.

2.     Many people have lost their jobs due to all factories, plants, shops, pharmacies, restaurants, or banks closing. People were fired from hospitals, utility companies, schools, and universities. The occupiers have forced remaining people with jobs to collaborate with the new government and new system. The same with police and local government: either you collaborate or you lose your work and salary. Citizens trapped in Kherson fear if they work with the russian government, they will be guilty of treason when the territory returns to Ukrainian control. To find work is nearly impossible.

3.     Retired people are unable to receive their pension by cash from the local post office. As Ukrainian post office doesn’t exist anymore, more than 30,000 retired people are unable to receive their pensions. The Russian government has proposed some payments, but locals are unsure how their new system will work.

4.     The banking system no longer functions at all. People can’t withdraw money, pay by card, make money transfers, receive money, etc. They can only use cash both in Ukrainian hryvna and Russian rubles. There are no official currency exchanges, only black market.

5.     Grocery stores, drugstores and pharmacies that existed before the occupation are now closed. The only option to buy anything is to go to an open air market. It looks like old Soviet Union market of 1990s when people where selling food, medicines, etc from their cars’ trunks. (photos attached). Some Russian companies started their work in the region (grocery shops) but the prices are so expensive, it’s impossible to buy anything.

6.     No cellular service, internet or wi-fi. The occupiers have blocked all cellular service, the city is cut off from the world. Most families have lost their connections with relatives and friends.

7.     To call for ambulance or police is almost impossible. If people need medical attention or emergency assistance, they may not receive help at all.

8.     If a family leaves their house vacant, Russians can use it for their needs without asking.

9.     It is not safe. People (especially those who are pro-Ukraine, politicians, social workers etc) have disappeared.


A lot of people need support, medical attention, food and money. I can’t even imagine what’s happening in small villages. I have relatives in one very small village in Kherson region (Podo-Kalinovka), and I haven’t heard from them at all since March 26th. To go there is dangerous, you need to go through several military check points and risk interrogation.

As I’m from that city, I know a lot of people who need help, whom I can trust, who lost their jobs and just want to try to live normal lives. It is impossible, for sure, but at least we can try to support them as much as possible.

Dream of a Better World is continuing to forward all donations to Laura for disbursement in helping meet the needs of these beautiful families.  

THANK YOU ALINA AND LAURA AND WORLD KITCHEN!  Thank you for caring enough to be there every day to help sustain and repair the shattered lives that have been so devastated by this senseless war.  

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Boots on the Ground for Ukraine Humanitarian Aid

Our compassionate friend and celebrated San Francisco chef Laura Pauli is headed to Poland to cook with World Central Kitchen and to offer humanitarian relief to Ukrainian citizens who have fled war-torn Ukraine for safety. Most of these people are women, children, and the elderly who have left behind courageous fathers, brothers, and sons to fight the Russian invasion.


Join us to support the team!

Laura will be cooking and serving daily meals in Przemsyl, Poland, just 3 miles from the Ukraine border. Close to the World Central Kitchen facilities is a building that was under construction before the war broke out. It’s called Tesco, and it is a giant store similar to our Costco. For now, this building is a refugee camp where Ukrainian people can have a place to stay and also get diapers, clothing, bedding and other supplies donated by the kind and generous people living in Poland. Laura and her team are working directly with these families, purchasing supplies like hygiene needs, diapers and baby food. In addition, they are supporting Ukrainians who plan to leave the country until the war ends, most of whom have friends and relatives living in other countries. Laura and her team are helping these families to obtain visas and buy airline tickets to other places in the world.


This is where we all come in! As the needs come in, Laura will be sharing the stories with us and we will fundraise in real time. Right now, there are many people waiting for visas, so airline tickets and travel expenses will be needed soon. These people are arriving with plastic bags filled with their life’s possessions, so some will need suitcases. Some will need new shoes after days of walking to the border. Some have not showered and may be offered a night in a hotel to rest, get clean, and then head back to the refugee center. Many need counseling and someone to cry with. This is emotional and hard.


The mission is supporting humanitarian efforts to move refugees out of Ukraine, and to meet their needs, with dignity and respect. 


Examples of aid provided to Ukrainian families over the past month through Laura and her friends fundraising efforts of about $5,000.00:


-       7 families (35 people total) received flights, transportation, temporary accommodations, food, and necessities to help navigate the fear and uncertainty of leaving their homes and not knowing where they will end up.

-       One Ukrainian family of 9 resettled in Ireland with relatives.

-       AirBnB for one week in Warsaw for a family waiting for visas to be processed to the move to the United Kingdom.

-       Relocating 3 families from Ukraine to safe spots.

-       $300.00 for the “Ukrainian Fighter Sewing Circle” that sews ballistic safety vests for Ukrainian fighters in Kyiv.


Please join us in supporting these ongoing efforts! All donations will go 100% directly to support those in Ukraine. Thank you for trusting us. Together we will make a difference!

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Back to School Scholarship

Just a quick note to thank everyone again for all of your encouragement and recent support during this crazy time.  And, as we've said many times... the best way to say thank you is to share the results! 

This week we heard back from a part-time pastor in Kenya that we have known for many years.  His income generating vocation is in the tourism industry and he has been out of work for nearly two years.  So Dream of a Better World sent school fees to keep his children, ages 7, 11, 13 and 16 in school.  


Here is part of the note that Gedion sent us this week:

“From the bottom of my heart, may God bless you all so much. I was worried on how to pay for my kids school. Thank you!!! Thank you for being a blessing to my family. Praying to meet again God willing. I have been praying for my kids not to drop out of school the way it happened to me for lack of school fees and God has used you to see my kids through to clear 2022 school fees. I am humbled and we will keep praying for your friends with my wife and daughter.”   

 - Pastor Gedion & Family