I feel fortunate to have had a chance encounter with Ms. Anju Bhargava, through my good friend Janet Falk of Arsha Vidya Gurukulam, Saylorsburg, PA. My husband and self, attended the first annual conference of HASC in Baltimore and was impressed with the goals and board members of this organization. Caring for my 90 year old mother in the nursing home, for whom I cook and serve vegetarian food every day convinced me that I must do my bit for Hindu elders in this country. I was getting ready to take HASC’s help and my community members support to start an assisted living facility, where vegetarian food and yoga will be offered to the residents. Soon, I got a call from Anju asking me if I would like to take up a full time position as a VISTA and be a part of the Americorps program. My instant response was “no”, as I had just quit a part time position at the public library to be a better care giver for my mom. I felt that taking a full time position will be a stress giver and jeopardize my attention to my mother. I was assured that I will have a lot of flexibility and will be helped whenever necessary by the board members. I committed myself as a ‘Volunteer In Service To America” under the auspices of HASC and went off for the orientation program in Atlanta in Aug 2010.
The reception and training that I got there made me feel so proud of belonging to CNCS and the Americorps program. They respected all the members and treated us with dignity and respect. I felt fortunate to take up this historic appointment as a Hindu, working for a Hindu faith based service organization. I met my colleagues Niki Shah and Dr. Kumud Sane there along with my Supervisor, Dr. Ved Chaudhary. I take this opportunity to thank Dr. Chaudhary who has been a great mentor to me in community service ideas. I also thank Points of Light and Hand on Corps for their excellent support and monthly training calls. Anju’s ideas in community service, her knowledge of the Hindu scriptures inspired me to get on board the wagon of HASC.
The first event that HASC organized was on a national basis, a kick- off event, promoting yoga called the YOGATHON. Education on health and nutrition contribute an important means to eradicate poverty and build healthier communities. The invaluable support given by Lakshmi and Soumya to design flyers and volunteer during the event gave me confidence. The teachers from The Art of Living Foundation, who drove all the way from Dallas and volunteered to teach three sessions of Yoga in a day was very generous. It was a grand success. The community demanded regular yoga classes and the teachers from Patanjali Yog Peeth came all the way from Kansas City and have made it possible to put the program in place. Classes are regularly held at the Wichita State University, temple or the Bhakta Community center.
- Building a seva center in Wichita that will serve to empower our youth, and
- Elder care for Americans focusing on the dharmic principles of holistic healing, yoga and vegetarianism.