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Another building you leased recently turned into a store called Porch? on Carpinteria Avenue near Sushi teri. we see something good happening there. it’s a beautiful addition to the town.


Carpinteria residents are known for their civic involve- ment volunteer activities. what part do you play in the community this way?


After 9/11, instead of charging customers, we put a buck- et out in front for donations. i said, “today’s free. You can put $5 or you don’t have to pay at all.” After dinner, some put in $50, some $5, some didn’t pay. we collected over $1,500 in four hours. we gave the money to the Carpinteria Fire Department to send to new York fire departments. when the tsunami happened, we had a fundraiser here


from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and said all the money will go to Sri lanka. we collected over $5,000 in this particular location. we gave free food and the customers donated money.


what was that like, donating money to people in your home country? we collected over $18,000 in the two-hour period in all


the Sushi teris and i matched it dollar to dollar. we were thinking of giving it to Direct Relief, but their focus is not on one particular area. i collaborated with greg Buie from u.C. San Diego and established our own organization called Rebuild Sri lanka Foundation. we rebuilt a school which was damaged by the tsunami


and basically took care of that small village. it’s still running. the budget is $6,000 a year, completely funded by Sushi teri right now. we don’t solicit donations. we solicit volun- teers, whoever wants to go there.


we have about 10 employees, a coordinator and a com- munity center. we teach computer skills, english classes, a couple of dance classes, and leadership camps. there were hundreds of nonprofit organizations after the tsunami, and pretty much everybody pulled out. nobody had a long term goal. even us, we didn’t know how far we could go. it was the right thing for me to do, give something back.


finally, what is the secret to your success, and what advice could budding entrepreneurs learn from you? Consistence. if you want to be a small business, start small. You have to work for it (success). ¢


TOP, Linden Avenue, Carpinteria’s boardwalk to the Pacific.


ABOVE, Laxman Perera in front of Sushi Teri—his Carpinteria flagship business.


SPRINgSuMMER2008 97


GROVES


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