Catalysts for Service
The Kara Love Project is a heartfelt example of how our heartbreak and grief can become catalysts for deepening our service in the world. Sometimes how we can cope with and even transform sorrow can be found in community, particularly if we’ve been cultivating throughout life. For Lily and Dave Dulan, this is part of the story of the creation of the Kara Love Project.
This story began in Venice 13 years ago when Lily and Dave Dulan turned their home into a local temple. Their living room became a space for yoga and devotional music where kirtan wallahs, teachers, and artists like Joey Lugassy, Mark Whitwell, and Spring Groove shared their gifts. The couple brought people together to teach, commune, and chant the names of the Divine.
Lily and Dave moved out of their small home in Venice to begin a family through a challenging series of fertility treatments. Lily was hospitalized for two months during her pregnancy due to complications. Their community came to support. There were even kirtan sessions played bedside in the hospital.
In a long-awaited moment, Lily and Dave welcomed their baby Kara Meyer Dulan on May 22, 2009, while surrounded by their community. Kara passed of SIDS on July 29, 2009, only two months after she entered the world. It was devastating. The same people who surrounded them in Venice were there, singing, speaking, and grieving alongside them at home.
From Grief to Philanthropy
After much growth and healing, Lily and Dave adopted two baby girls, Marcelle and Sally, who are thriving. Lily felt called to honor Kara’s brief life and her philanthropic nature gave birth to the Kara Love Project.
The mission of the Kara Love Project is to promote conscious giving and positive action for underserved and marginalized individuals and communities worldwide. The Dulan’s Westside backyard has become a venue to support this mission through gathering community.
Kara Love Project Collaborations
In 2017, the Kara Love Project’s first annual backyard benefit supported the Unatti Foundation, an organization with which the Kara Love Project has an ongoing relationship. Unatti is dedicated to raising funds to provide food, shelter, and education for orphaned and underprivileged children living at the Unatti Group Home in Bhaktapur, Nepal.
Kara Love also collaborates with Venice Arts, a program that provides free classes in the arts to local youth. This cause is one of the first to inspire the Kara Love Project. The Dulans have been sending children to Venice Arts Camp each summer since Kara passed away.
In October 2018, the Kara Love Project raised funds and awareness for the Congo Peace School. Lily connected with Harriet Zaretsky and Steve Henry, who also lost a child suddenly. Harriet and Steve founded The Dillon Henry Foundation whose mission is similar to the Kara Love Project. They wish to create a worldwide community of individuals who show compassion and are compelled to take personal responsibility to change the world for the better. The Dillon Henry Foundation connected Lily to their passion for the Congo Peace School. A school with a curriculum based on peace and nonviolence.
Kara Love Project Backyard Music Events
Lily and her team, including Kelly Mickel and numerous volunteers, orchestrated an evening of bringing together artists, musicians, and community to support these interconnected missions. Musicians C.C. White, Joey Lugassy and band along with headliner Macy Gray filled the backyard with music. Supporters feasted, bid on a silent auction of art, and had their tarot cards read by Nadine Kljner.
Attendees were moved by the video showcasing the Congo Peace School students. Then people bid on the live auction led by beloved bhakti teacher Shiva Baum. Reverend Michael Bernard Beckwith, Rabbi Neil Comess Daniels, basketball icon and mental health activist Metta World Peace, Micheline Berry, Dearbhla Kelley, Dave Stringer, and Denise Kaufman were just a few of the 300 change-makers in attendance supporting Kara Love.
Breaking Down the Walls
Lily spoke about taking down the walls that we build around our hearts. “If we can’t look each other in the eye and give a hug instead of a handshake in my backyard then what are we here for? We need to break down the walls and help one another to make the world a better place!”
In addition to her work as a community leader, Lily touches others through her work as an MFT psychotherapist, writer, and Heart of Yoga teacher. Her personal mission is to help people release the fears that separates us. As a hostess she embodies her beliefs.
She hosted an evening filled with love, generosity and community during which Macy Gray led us in singing, “Everything’s gonna be alright” into the night air for the whole neighborhood to hear.
Here’s to the ripple effects that are created through the inspiration that lead us all to smile at a stranger—and do whatever we can to experience our own sorrow while also deepening our service in the world.
For more information on the Kara Love Project, visit: thekaraloveproject.org
Shelley Karpaty is a yogi living in the Bay Area where she brings her spirit into writing, recruiting and career coaching. Medium: medium.com/@skarpaty and Instagram @shelleykarpaty