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  • Writer's pictureCynthia Brian

We won 2024 NonProfit of the Year!


“We do not need magic to transform our world. We carry all the power we need inside ourselves already.”~ J.K. Rowling

A MESSAGE from Founder/Executive Director, CYNTHIA BRIAN

As a steward of our beautiful earth and a gregarious gardener, April is a favorite month because it signals a time of awareness of the need to care for our planet. Earth Day is celebrated on April 22 and in 2022, two of our youth poets, Sharanya Roy, Ruhani Chhabra and I were chosen to participate in a global celebration that included the soon-to-be crowned King Charles! (Check out the videos at That was thrilling.

This April, Be the Star You Are!® once again was surprised with an award. What exciting news it was to be notified by Katie Bidstrup, Executive Director of the Moraga Chamber of Commerce that out of 80 nominations, Be the Star You Are!® was the winner of the 2024 NonProfit of the Year and the Child Day School was the winner of Business of the Year. How marvelous that both entities empower excellence in youth! Thank you, Katie!

At the awards reception on Saturday, April 13, volunteers, donors, supporters, friends, and family were honored by the Chamber Board, Mayor, Council Members, and County Supervisors. Teen volunteers introduced themselves and the programs that they were involved in. Two of our Express Yourself!® Teen Radio Hosts, Julia Howe and Sharanya Roy, gave heartfelt, emotional speeches about the profound and powerful impact that volunteering with Be the Star You Are!® had on their lives. I was so personally touched, that I was in tears.

People in attendance were also deeply moved. The positive comments about the teens were profuse and well-deserved. The Town Council stated, “Your selection as Moraga's 2024 Nonprofit of the Year is a very positive reflection on your critical positive contribution to our community.”

Read Vera Kochan’s great article about the Business and Nonprofit of the Year:

As one supporter kindly wrote “Cynthia, it was a real pleasure to visit with your outstanding group. As we said to your crew on the way out, “we feel much better about the future of the United States.” You have a wonderful program.”  Yes, kudos to our well-spoken and amazing youth!

The future is bright because teens express themselves. Tune in to our teen radio broadcasts where teens talk and the world listens.

We extend our thanks to the Moraga Chamber of Commerce, the Town Council of Moraga, and the Board of Supervisors of Contra Costa County for bestowing Be the Star You Are!® with this tribute. Our appreciation to everyone who has donated and supported us over the years. After 25 years of service to our community, county, country, and world, we are pleased to be making a positive difference.

Most of all, I personally salute our volunteers who have the magic to transform the world. They do carry the power within! BRAVO!!!

We will continue to be conscientious caretakers of our Earth.

With gratitude to all for your support and love.

Cynthia Brian

Founder/Executive Director

Be the Star You Are!®

PO Box 376

Moraga, California 94556

In the photo L to R:  Keerthi Eranivan, Sharanya Roy, Julia Howe, Sean Kwok, Ella Kalpakjian, Cynthia Brian, Saanvi Phaneendra. Not pictured: Charvi Saxena


Eleventh grader, Sean Kwok, volunteers as a videographer for Be The Star You Are!®, and has chosen the organization because it gives other youth like him a belief in positive media and literacy. His favorite pastimes are running track, doing sound for theatrical tech, and Youth & Government. He also loves filmmaking and hopes to pursue it as a major in college. He encourages others to take a look at the BTSYA website and look through all the great ways people can find the great messages and programs that Be the Star You Are!® has created!

Check out the videos Sean has created for BTSYA with more to come.


by Karen Kitchel

We all have a role to play in preserving our environment for future generations.  While many corporations are dealing with long-term sustainability, there are simple things we can do that will have an impact on everyone’s tomorrow.  Pick one of the following to do today to be kind to our environment.

Alternatives to Driving

·       Walk or ride a bike·       Carpool or use public transportation·       Save gas by watching your speed (Note:  speeding reduces mileage by up to 33%)·       Combine errands to make fewer trips

Home Energy Savers

·       Turn off lights when you leave the room·       Reduce drafts with caulk, insulation, or weather stripping·       Look for energy-efficient appliances when replacing old ones

Other Ways To Save Our Planet

·       Eat locally-produced food·       Recycle items you no longer use·       Use cloth napkins at home instead of paperReduce paper consumption by using technology with less printing of documents or using both.

Karen Kitchel is the Kindness Coordinator volunteer with BTSYA. She purchased the book, No Barnyard Bullies, as a gift for every kindergarten student where she is a volunteer teacher.


The third book in the children’s picture book series Stella Bella’s Barnyard Adventure is Books in the Barnyard: Oh Deer!, a delightful tale based on the true story of a baby fawn who is rescued by children and shares a secret superpower. Proceeds from the sale of the book will benefit Be the Star You Are!® charity.  While the book is being published, presale orders are discounted through May 20th. The regular price is $14.95 but the presale price is only $11.95. Buy your copies now, ask for autographs,  and reap the extra rewards. Visit


Are you looking for first-edition book packages as keepsakes or gifts?  Be the Star You Are!® offers our special book package containing six books in our most popular two series for adults, teens, and children.

The total donation is $125 for the six books including tax and shipping. Visit for order information.

Looking for other great books, CDs, or movies by your favorite authors? Check out BTSYA’s Amazon Store:


Be the Star You Are!® is excited to announce a new program in collaboration with the Eloquence Academy for a FREE debate program for students. Keerthi Eranivan, our talented debate volunteer, is the BTSYA chairperson, who will spearhead our partnership in this new program.  Eloquence is sustained by a strong belief in our mission and the power of speech and debate. Otherwise known as forensics, debate is a popular extracurricular activity in MS and HS nationwide, as well as in undergraduate, graduate, and other post-secondary organizations. Beyond the technical aspects of competition, debaters are known to enter the workforce with edges over others: increased communication skills, increased confidence, higher SAT scores (both on the math and reading section of the standardized tests), a higher GPA, and a better chance of attending and graduating from college. This program collaboration aims to offer debate programs to students aged K-12  providing the opportunity to experience the activity and supplement their academic and developmental growth. For information visit

For more information about Eloquence Academy visit and Instagram: @eloquenceacadem

Keerthi chairs the Eloquence Debate Partnership with Be the Star You Are!®


by Britney Phan

I shift and the environment shifts with me. The beginning of spring signals new opportunities for growth as I look for ways to reinvent myself. The changing of the leaves and the blossoming of the flowers; animals, once hibernating, emerging from their caves—all these serve to remind me of the fact that, not unlike the perpetual shift of the seasons, personal growth is also a cyclical and continuous process.

If we are products of our environment, then it stands to reason we should also protect it. Our environment plays a direct role in the shaping of our identities. I have personally experienced the calming effects of nature myself while taking a stroll through the park after a particularly dreary day; in that sense, taking care of the environment is an act of gratitude for all the ways the Earth has helped and shaped us. If not for us, then our responsibility to the environment should come from the need to take care of it for future generations: after all, how can our children appreciate the beauty of sitting beneath a tree if there are no trees left for them to enjoy?

Britney Phan with her family above is a volunteer writer with BTSYA and an undergraduate student at Fordham University, where she intends to major in English. Her interests include writing, reading, and spending time with her sister.


With no paid staff and all volunteers, since receiving our 501c3 status in 1999, Be the Star You Are! has:

*Served 558,927 individuals and families 

*Donated to 118 organizations 

*Logged 770,999 volunteer hours and growing

*Distributed $2.1 million plus in resources

*Collected and donated 1575 pairs of shoes to women in poverty around the globe.

*Broadcast 2700 unique hours of positive programming through radio broadcasts.

*Published 7 signature award-winning books, Be the Star You Are!® 99 Gifts, Be the Star You Are!® for Teens, Be the Star You Are!® Millennials to Boomers, No Barnyard Bullies, Family Forever, Books in the Barnyard: Oh Deer!, and Miracle Moments®,

*Written and published over 2530 book reviews in collaboration with The Reading Tub and Express Yourself!™ Creative Community.

*Interviewed over 2500 authors, experts, and celebrities.

*Nominated for the California Governor’s and First Lady’s Service Awards

*Honored with five-star ratings as a Top Rated Non-Profit by GuideStar and Great Non Profits for the Women’s Empowerment, Arts and Culture, and the Arts Appreciation Campaigns since 2010.

“Dignity is not built on possessing honors, but on the awareness that you deserve them.”~ Aristotle

Be the Star You Are!® encourages and supports its volunteers to GROW people.


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