Thoughts were swirling in Bala Natarajan’s head as he rode his Honda Shadow motorcycle on Pacific Coast Highway early one morning, stopping at a local cafe for breakfast.

What is passion? What is purpose? What is one without the other?

It’s the season of giving thanks, but Natarajan wanted to offer more than a token of gratitude to the community in which he feels blessed to live.

“I have been personally blessed with good people in my life, and I’m thankful to live in a place like Santa Monica,” he said. “I like the community here. For me, giving back adds to the satisfaction and contentment.”

The local resident has raised money for A Window Between Worlds, a Venice-based nonprofit where he regularly volunteers. The organization uses art as a healing tool for victims of violence and trauma.

Natarajan’s project is currently featured as part of #GivingTuesday, an annual initiative launched in 2012 by New York’s 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation that has garnered support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other philanthropists.

Until Nov. 24, Facebook users can vote for Natarajan’s fundraiser, “Sport ‘n Art 4 a Cause.” Winners will receive grants for their designated charity efforts as part of #GivingTuesday, which is celebrated Dec. 1.

It all started three years ago, when Natarajan saw a brochure for A Window Between Worlds at a local Starbucks coffee shop.

“It felt so right because art is such a great form of expression,” he said. “When I went into their office, they were so genuine. They’re so community-focused, and it’s something I connected with right away.”

Natarajan started volunteering with the nonprofit and used his connections as a football fan to put together a fundraiser.

He enlisted artists to set up face-painting stations for the Green Bay Packers fans who congregate at Mom’s Bar in West Los Angeles and the Seattle Seahawks who gather at Backstage Bar in Culver City. The LA Cheeseheads and the SoCal Seahawks fan clubs raised about $1,500.

“They’re really good philanthropic groups, and they made this happen,” said Natarajan, a Packers enthusiast. “For this initiative, I’m an equal fan of both.”

Afterward, Natarajan saw a tweet from Bill Gates’ account about #GivingTuesday. He saw it as an opportunity to share the success of his project, raise awareness for A Window Between Worlds and bring the community together.

Natarajan, who grew up in India, came to the U.S. nearly 20 years ago to attend graduate school at Syracuse University in New York. Lured to Southern California by the weather, he now runs a business technology consultancy and enjoys riding his motorcycle on PCH.

Sometimes, the rides lead thoughts to begin swirling in his head.

For more information about A Window Between Worlds, visit, email or call 310-396-0317.

For more information about #GivingTuesday, visit or