by Kirsten Gilardi, US Director

Dr. Eddy’s wonderfully unexpected trip to California earlier this month presented Gorilla Doctors with some great opportunities to reach out to our donors to say THANK YOU in person at events in Seattle and Los Angeles. Along the way, we made many new friends for Gorilla Doctors too.

After Eddy attended the 2017 Western Regional Gorilla Workshop at the Santa Barbara Zoo November 6-8, we headed north to Seattle. Verna and Attila Kilic, whom I met in Rwanda earlier this year when they trekked gorillas, opened up their home to 45+ guests the evening of November 9th. Their friends at TCS World Travel sponsored the catering, which was provided by Verna and Attila’s friend Maria Smeraldo, owner of Il Terrazo Carmine. Attila arranged for two of Maria’s chefs to cook in the Kilic’s kitchen all evening, and appetizers and dessert were also prepared by Verna and Attila’s friend Ahmet Yavuz at Turkish Delight. Halfway through the evening, everyone gathered in the family room for an informal presentation by me and Eddy – against a backdrop of some amazing drawings done by one of Attila’s staff at Meta Marble & Granite, Mr. Rick Scott. Eddy and I were just blown away by all the great questions we fielded from our audience, which carried us long into the evening. Guests were incredibly generous, making gifts totaling $5,500, with promises of more to come. It was a fantastic fun, food and funds-filled evening — a special thank you to the Kilics and their sons Erol and Kevin, and to all our new Seattle-based friends of Gorilla Doctors!

Verna and Attila Kilic on their gorilla trek in Rwanda.

From Seattle, we headed back down south to Los Angeles, for a really fun get-together with donors at Gorilla Doctors’ Board member Jack Karuletwa’s Silverback Coffee of Rwanda Café in downtown Los Angeles on Sunday November 12th. Jack and his wife Jennifer poured Rwandan coffee and La Brea Bakery donated pastries. We had the chance to visit with folks like Amy Bond, of Lucy & Jo, a Gorilla Doctors sponsor, as well as donors like Stacy Hill, Chad Robertson and Kathy Bakken, and Aleisha Caruso among many additional friends. We were delighted to meet Steve Henry and Harriet Zaretsky, who had just returned from trekking gorillas in Rwanda, and who became new Gorilla Doctors donors that morning with generous gifts made on the spot. A huge thank you to the Karuletwas and everyone who joined us to celebrate Eddy’s visit to California!

Dr. Eddy in front of Jack Karuletwa’s Silverback Coffee in Los Angeles.

In between these great events, Eddy and I also really enjoyed getting together with friends Drs. Bruce and Eve Kuesis, and Justin Davanzo, Eric Smith and Judy Taggart of K-Nine Solutions in Santa Barbara (we missed you Patsy!), and with Jack and Jennifer Karuletwa and Amy and Frank Bond, and with Joanne Horowitz and Gorilla Doctors Emeritus Board member Lara Zekaria, in Los Angeles.