FTA is committed to easing the suffering of those less fortunate via contributions from all of our nine
annual FTA Asia Pacific and NYC Spring & Fall charity dinners to at-risk families in Cambodia and
Thailand. In addition, FTA does direct intervention charity and family social work for individual, very
poor families in Cambodia and Thailand. Fred Tibbitts's background includes Clinical Psychology and
training in Social Work, which allows Fred to better serve poor families in addition to financial support,
with Tibbitts working to stabilize families, insure their good healthcare, teaching good sanitation
procedures in the home, insuring the schooling of the children, and acting as the resident Shaman-clinician
for each family in distress.
Fred Tibbitts & Associates, Inc. is a New York State Sub-Chapter “S” Corporation, operated as a not-for-profit to serve those less fortunate. All monthly and annual profits after operating expenses are given in
charity to ease the suffering of the poor through direct charity for individuals and families in Cambodia
and Thailand. In addition, FTA provides annual USD$2,500.00 scholarships (Which in most cases the
schools match, resulting in $5,000.00 scholarships) for worthy, needy students at schools of higher
hospitality education in Asia Pacific in the names of our Asia Pacific Award Recipients.
FTA Core Values
Service is the Highest Calling
Openness of Heart
Receive What is Given
Assume the suffering of All Sentient Beings
Welcoming Remarks at the 2016
FTA Fall Dinner at Shanghai
Welcome to the
Thirteenth Annual FTA “An Autumn Evening in Shanghai with Very Special Friends”. We
gather in New York City spring and fall, and annually at New Delhi, Singapore, Beijing, Bangkok, Shanghai,
Hong Kong and Ho Chi Minh City to recognize hospitality excellence; provide scholarships at schools of
higher hospitality education; and to make charitable contributions.
An industry is only as strong as
the wisdom, vision, compassion and actions of its leaders; leaders who define excellence for
the benefit of all those who look to them to know the way to realize their dreams and ambitions
and not be left behind. In the end we are judged not by whom we include, but by whom we exclude.
Great leaders inspire and teach all those who seek to be included, because serving the least of
us is truly the highest calling and the only measure of service from the heart.
This evening we come together to
announce the 2016 FTA Hospitality Awards for Excellence and this year’s scholarships; and to
donate to charity. This is truly a very special evening for us all and I thank you for joining
us, because as I say at every FTA dinner, YOU are the dinner.
But the deeper meaning of why we
come together is really at the very heart of why the hospitality industry is so special to
those of us who have come to consider it our calling.
Hospitality is about SERVICE, and in particular, Service Excellence. Service is truly the Highest Calling. It is not what we do for ourselves, but what we do for others that is the measure of our worth to humanity: And simply because it is the right thing to do: Not for personal recognition.
The truth is that we are free to dwell at any given moment in as beautiful a place as our hearts are open to loving others and our willingness to serve them without regard to our advantage.
Life is a series of micro steps from the time we arrive to the time we depart and the quality of our life is but a reflection of the quality of our contribution to the peace and happiness of others: It is not about pleasing ourselves or collecting “things”: It is about serving others and after one’s basic, personal needs are met, allowing what remains of what comes our way to pass through our fingers for the benefit of those less fortunate. While I have nothing against luxury goods, when it is your time to pass from this life, do you want to be remembered for your collection of Rolex watches or your charity for those less fortunate? I am confident if Mother Teresa or Mahatma Gandhi was given a Rolex, they would have honored the gift for 24 hours and then offered it to someone they thought would cherish it. So, why should we be any different? I ask you to consider making charity your way of life, rather than an annual after thought for a tax advantage.
I ask everyone to please remember those less fortunate, especially the estimated 750,000 refugees at the United Nations camps in Kenya, and the now 2,000,000 refugees in camps in South Sudan with many facing “imminent famine”, according to the United Nations; and the estimated 7,000,000 refugees from Syria and Iraq. And the poverty and suffering in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, China, the Philippines, Cambodia, Vietnam and everywhere else; as well as the massacres taking place in Africa and the Middle East. A recent report by UNICEF and the World Health Organization says that at least 7.5 million children under the age of five die annually from preventable diseases. The suffering of so many continues, as does their need for your compassion, including the recent floods around the world. And the devastating earthquakes in Nepal, where much of the promised aid has not been delivered, and the government is withholding much of the funds received for political reasons. On a recent Clinton Global Initiative panel carried on the BBC & CNN International, Deepak Chopra said 50% of the Earth’s population is living on USD$2.00 a day; and 20% is living on USD$1.00 a day. So, I ask you to consider your comfortable lives, and accordingly, open your hearts, just a little bit more to those less fortunate and in need.
And while the few luxuriate on the finest of culinary delights at Five-Star and other such comfortable hotels & resorts, the many go wanting; and some go wanting to starvation. And at the 2014 Davos World Economic Forum Bill & Melinda Gates released their annual letter titled “3 Myths that Block Progress for the Poor”:
- Poor Countries are doomed to stay poor
- Foreign Aid is a Big Waste
- Saving Lives Leads to Overpopulation
And from the January 2015 Oxfam Briefing, “Global wealth is increasingly being concentrated in the hands of a small, wealthy elite.” “In 2014 the richest 1% of people in the world owned 48% of global wealth, leaving just 52% to be shared by those included in the other 99% of adults on the planet. And “As of 2016, the top 1% now have more than 50% of total global wealth.”
And now the unstoppable mass migrations of millions of the desperately poor and those trying to escape the devastating effects of wars and armed attacks by terrorists such as DASH in Syria, Iraq, and Libya; and the persecution in Eritrea and Ethiopia; and Al-Qaida in Afghanistan and Pakistan and from around the world to countries of safe haven with better standards of living, can no longer be ignored by the “Haves”, some of whom are finally being embarrassed by calls from the United Nations and other global human rights groups into rescuing these refugees at sea, and accepting and relocating these most unfortunates, rather than simply turning a blind eye, and letting them perish at sea, as though the lives of these refugees were not as worthy as their own. Yet there remain too many countries that continue to deny safe haven for these poorest of the poor, for their hearts are closed. And their reasoning always amounts to the same argument: “We cannot afford to share”. How very sad. No matter how much with which the Haves in these countries are blessed, it is never enough: Clearly, there is no room at their tables for the families of the least of us.
But the bottom line is quite simple: The “Haves” need to share more with the “Have Nots”. And further from Davos, the astounding and revolting fact that today the 85 richest people control almost half of the world’s wealth; or to put it another way, their wealth is equal to that of 3.5 billion of the world’s poorest people. Is this the envisioned world of Voltaire’s Candide “….the Best of all possible worlds”? I think not.
We as a Human Race can and must do better.
The United Nations has just announced the “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” along with a set of bold new Global Goals for a better world. These new goals build on the historic Millennium Development Goals, which in September of 2000, rallied the world around a common 15-year agenda to tackle the indignity of poverty. The 17 goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development are as follows: (Read List)
And as I believe in leading by example, I no longer draw no salary; and I have converted my for profit business into a social entrepreneurship. We give away to those less fortunate most of our monthly and annual company profits, leaving no reserves, except just enough to keep our business checking account open at the bank. We help some families and students weekly and we help others monthly or as desperate needs develop. And via our FTA dinners we give annual USD$2,500.00 scholarships in equal partnership with the schools benefitting, resulting in most cases in USD$5,000.00 scholarships, as most schools match our donations.
I no longer worry about my social standing: I am simply a Soul, temporarily residing in a body vehicle; and just like everyone else, doing my best to get by. I only replace clothing if it can no longer be sewn or repaired, for appearances mean very little to me now. I would rather be judged by the openness of my heart to all others; by my compassion for those less fortunate than myself; and for my deeds, rather than my words. And if my monthly Social Security is already given-away, and I cannot find an Angel to serve a desperate need, I now borrow from others who know me, on my good word, rather than allow an urgent need to go unmet.
But the Buddhists have a beautiful saying, “One never knows which comes first, the next morning or the next life”. I pray that as a result of our coming together this evening for higher purposes, namely recognizing human excellence, providing much-needed scholarships for students of limited means and charity for those less fortunate that we will all be reminded that people are more important than things and that we all wake-up in the morning in THIS life; but rededicated to devoting our lives to serving others, simply because it is the right thing to do; and not for others to praise us or to cater to our ego.
For Service with an Open Heart and Right Intention is the foundation of our hospitality industry: So, from this moment forward, let “Service unto Others” be your mantra, until it is your time to wake-up in the NEXT life. And as there is always more we need to do to ease the suffering of those whom we serve, our kind host, Joyce Zhao will be passing a Silver Plate during the meal for your compassionate consideration to better allow us to ease the suffering of very poor families in Cambodia and Thailand. Thank you very much.
Saving A Cambodian Family-Everyone Can Save Someone
or Some Family
The story began
on 6 December when I came across them on the street in Bangkok, shoeless,
very dirty, hardly and barely clothed.
They were staying on a cement slab underneath the outdoor staircase
over Sukhumvit Road that connects The Westin Grande Sukhumvit with The
Sheraton Grade Sukhumvit. All
their worldly possessions were in five, small plastic shopping bags: They
really looked a though they could use a good, warm meal.
So, through a nearby Thai student interpreter (the mother only speaks
Cambodian and Thai), I was able to invite them as a family to be my guest at
the McDonald’s just 100 feet down the sidewalk adjacent to The Westin.
The mother nodded “Okay”.
And I must say, they ate as though they had not eaten in quite some
time. I believe I was back to
the counter four times between more Sprite & Coke, French fries, sandwiches;
and of course, ice cream desserts.
Thankfully, there was a large wash sink in the restaurant, which
allowed everyone to use the much-needed liquid soap and hot water; and for
mom to clean her baby.
But in the
brief 30 minutes we spent in McDonald’s, I realized how truly desperate were
they and that I had to do more; which is our mission at FTA, to serve
others, especially those less fortunate.
The baby badly needed disposable diapers and as they had nothing in
the way of soap, toothpaste, whatever, so we went shopping next door at the
Tops Market. Afterwards, I took
them all next door to Robinson’s Department Store to buy them clothing: And
about 90 minutes later, when we left the store, they no longer looked like
beggars on the street, but a normal, happy family, nicely clothed, the 12
year old girl with her first doll and the 2 year old boy with his first
educational toy. I then offered
them 200 Baht (about USD $7.00) for taxi fare to wherever they were staying
at night. But the mother looked
confused: And as the taxi driver spoke English, he explained to me that she
was telling him that they were living under the nearby staircase; they had
no place to stay. What to do?
So, I marched them four blocks to the Nana Chart Youth Hostel and I
paid for a safe, clean two bedroom, air conditioned room for them for 8
nights, until I had to return to the U.S. for the Christmas holidays.
And every morning I would arrive at about 8:00am and we would all
have breakfast together; every lunch I would return and we would eat
something on the street; and every evening I would return to take them to
the same, nice, casual restaurant for a wholesome dinner.
And when I left for the U.S., I gave her enough cash to return them
safely on the buses to Cambodia; and for food until I could fly to Phnom
Penh the first week in January and get a better handle on their true
situation and attend to the acute dental and medical needs of both the 6
year old boy and the 12 year old girl.
The rest is an
even longer story, but suffice it to say, I had no idea of how bleak, how
desperate was the small, filthy, unsanitary, unsafe, dark, cinder block,
single room they rented for $25.00 per month including limited electricity
and a water pipe for the toilet plastic wash basin (but the water was unfit
to drink); all this down a long, dark, depressing hallway off a dirt road to
Hell. I slept on the cement
floor with them for one night, before deciding I could not let them live
like this a moment longer.
So, with great
thanks to financial contributions from industry friends and both logistics
support and many, many special favors by Charles-Henri Chevet, Area General
Manager, Sofitel Cambodia and his Team (our base at Phnom Penh until we
could find them a fit place to live), and with about $12,000.00 to date of
FTA direct charity from our dinner revenues (Including a portion of
tonight’s dinner revenues); and with the invaluable help of so many
wonderful Souls I met along the way from Batambang, Cambodia where they
lived (about a 10 hour taxi ride from Phnom Penh); and all the way to Phnom
Penh, the family is now in a safe, clean apartment in a very nice
residential area of downtown Phnom Penh; the children are at last in a
wonderful, nearby public school; and they look just amazing in their blue
and white school uniforms.
The six year
old has now had under general anesthesia in an operating room four of his
baby teeth removed, which had become infected with his left cheek swollen
like a balloon and he was in constant pain.
Everyone has now had medical examinations by an MD at the Chenda
Clinic in Phnom Penh, including blood tests, which revealed that none of
them were protected from Hepatitis; so they are now all inoculated and the
baby even received the two doses of a vaccine not administered after birth;
plus they were given other medicines to take in case they have any internal
issues from their poor diet and lack of sanitation.
And they all had eye exams by an eye doctor at Chenda Clinic; and as
a result, the mother and 12 year old daughter finally have the reading
glasses they needed so badly, but never could afford.
We are sending
her USD$245.00 per week to sustain them, which includes the children’s
USD$24.00 per week school breakfast & lunch money; and the USD$12.00 per
week for our now trusted friend, Mr. Sna, the “tut tut” driver, to pick
them-up in the morning and bring them home from school every day; and last
but not least, paying the monthly rent and utilities.
we recently found an “Operation Angel” who funded the 12 year old girl’s
face surgery to remove 5 hideous, red tumors, the result of untreated
Tuberculosis at age 3; so, finally, though the surgery scar will take time
to heal, she can truly smile without feeling self-conscious. So now you know
how we spend some of the revenues we collect from our many valued dinner
sponsors across Asia Pacific and at NYC; and of the many compassionate Souls
who helped us succeed with our most recent direct humanitarian effort in
Thank you very much for your kind attention.
one final footnote
desperately needed a loving, caring father; and the mother very much needed
a loving, providing husband.
And so one day in late January, the last night we were staying at the
Sofitel Phnom Penh before moving them into their apartment; with the two
oldest children soon to be in school; and their lives beginning to become
stabilized, the 12 year old girl, with the others standing around me, looked
up at me and said “Pa”. And I
looked into her eyes, knowing this was a really, really important moment in
time: In fact, a life-changing moment for everybody.
So, I smiled
broadly and replied “Yes, Pa”.
And from that moment, I was officially adopted by the family.
I became the father of the children and the husband of the mother.
Now I ride the “tut tut” to school with the 6 & 12 year olds, six
mornings a week at 6:30am; and I help feed the 2 & ½ year old baby some of
the time. So, if you want to find me from now on when I’m not at one of our
12 annual FTA hospitality industry humanitarian dinners, just come to
An FTA Guided Hospitality Meditation
Hospitality is about
service and in particular Service Excellence: Service to
others. Service is truly the highest calling. It is not what we do
for ourselves, but what we do for others that is the measure of our worth to
humanity and ourselves.
May we suggest you take but five minutes from your busy schedule to
meditate on these five thoughts as a valued member of the Global
Everything and everyone is connected: We are ONE: We are not separate from
one another; so live your lives with an open heart without qualification and
treat everyone as though they were your closest family at all times. Honor
and respect all others.
is the Highest Calling: Serve the least of humanity with compassion and
reverence as though you were in the presence of royalty: For in fact, the
least of us are the closest to the energy and "White Light" of the universe.
on what is the right thing to do: Not what appears to be most to your
relieving the suffering of all others (all Sentient Beings) by wishing that
you can suffer for them.
finally, try not to fill your day chasing after all that you can take:
Instead, receive what is given.
Fred, Elizabeth Wallace Tibbitts
(Fred's mother), Fred III & Jennifer - A
Window into Yesterday
Fred and Joy