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Growth – IG has recently been published in Atlanta’s largest South Asian magazine, Khabar.  You can click on the following link, Indian Givers in Khabar, or see below to read the articule.

 

Giving Back: Indian American Youngsters
By RUKSANA HUSSAIN


Every so often, many among us make grand plans to change the world, wipe out poverty, eradicate illiteracy, and remove every evil from the face of this planet. Then again, there are some of us who try to do something in the here and now which will make a difference even if that is just helping one person a day, one cause at a time.
A group of young men and women from the Indian community in Atlanta has set out to do just that. Neal Shah and his friends formed Indian Givers earlier this year in an effort to get people involved in giving back to the local community. The group consists mainly of professionals in their mid to upper 20s and 30s working in the metro-Atlanta area.


Indian Givers has held three volunteering events this far. The first was with Hands on Atlanta in March, when the group painted murals for a beautification project at Kennedy Middle School. The second was in July at the Gateway Center, a rehabilitation center which helps the homeless get back in society. Volunteers helped with sorting clothing donations, cleaning throughout the facility, and engaging clients and children while sharing snacks and playing board games, shares Lisa Ratliff, Volunteer Coordinator.
The third event was with Raksha, a Georgia-based non-profit organization for the South Asian community, helping at their annual fundraiser. Neal Shah and the Indian Givers began working with Raksha in April. They helped spread the word about the event, promote ticket sales and solicit for ads. The night of the event, they brought more than 25 volunteers to ensure the event was a success. I am so grateful and feel so fortunate that they found us! exclaims Tonja Holder, Director of Development, Raksha, Inc.
Neal started Indian Givers with three other key members  Roma Patel, Prerak Bathia and Nimesh Patel. The core team would discuss different issues that people are passionate about, and try to partner with existing groups in deciding where they wished to volunteer. Having a basic concept and a vision, they now needed like-minded volunteers who were keen on making a difference in the mainstream community by way of giving back. This was done by setting up a group page on Facebook to give people information on volunteering opportunities.

Viral effect

It has been a viral effect with people finding the group and signing on. The word-of-mouth approach seems to have worked fairly well for them. From four members on the drawing board to 120 now, the group seems to be picking up speed. Although originally formed by Indians, membership is open to anyone who wants help in the local volunteering efforts.


We are not specific to any event and we want to stay that way. We want to work with whoever and whatever cause it may be, stresses Neal. The experience so far has been very satisfying and humbling, and we’ve seen our group grow in membership drastically, points out Roma, an Emory alum and budding entrepreneur, one of the group’s key members. The more events we do, the more we spread the word, and the more media we receive, the more interest we receive. With a greater membership roster, we are able to dive into larger projects and more often and hopefully reach many more needy areas of Atlanta.
My volunteering experience with the group was great! says Arti Jagirdar, a fourth year dental school student at the Medical College of Georgia. These events have been organized very well in so far as our goals and expectations were always made clear in advance. Another volunteer, Molly Patel, adds, I felt like the organizers had done their research about the event and knew exactly who the go-to person was when we arrived and what we would be doing there.
But why another voluntary group when there are so many around? I am interested in volunteering and always felt like as much as I wanted to I only did a little bit. I would do things through my work if there was an opportunity which was probably once or twice a year, and with people that sometimes I really didn’t know, explains Neal. The goal with Indian Givers was to see if we could set up a group strictly for volunteering. Not a networking group that does some volunteering on the side every now and then. If you’re doing it with your friends, you are more motivated to volunteer at events and it can be fun at the same time.

Strong local ties

Our mission is to keep our volunteering efforts local we want to do things that benefit the local community. The premise is we are Indians, we have ties back to India, but a lot of my generation has a stronger tie with their local community. When our parents came here long ago, they had to work very hard. They didn’t have the passion to give back to the local community whereas we have been somewhat privileged for the most part and given the opportunity to give back now. We are not in that struggle. We are able to focus now. So let’s give back to our local community where we grew up, not necessarily back to India.  This informal group of volunteers is planning to get more organized in the next year. Right now, we aren’t raising any money, it’s all for the group so it hasn’t been an issue. We definitely want to host some kind of event next year, do our own fundraisers and the majority of that funding will be given to a charity or a cause and some of that will be for improving our infrastructure, says Neal.

Adds Nimesh, another key member and an Augusta native now working in a software consulting company in Atlanta, Indian Givers has many goals for the upcoming year contribute to various types of causes, increase our active participants, begin volunteering through events hosted solely by Indian Givers, organize our group a little more by creating our own website and infrastructure.

Some might be surprised the group functions under the name Indian Givers a term known to have a negative connotation. Webster defines it as a person who gives something to another and then takes it back or expects an equivalent in return.  I knew about that, comments Neal. There is a stereotype, a derogatory connotation. People have mentioned it to me. When I started this group, it was 2 o’clock in the morning. The name popped in my head, it sounded clever at that time. It was more a play on words: Indian Givers  we are Indian and we are giving. If it becomes an issue and the group becomes large, maybe before we are registered we may want to change the name.

The group is planning one more volunteering event this year. Our goal is to do one every two months on average as we don’t want to overdo it where there are so many events that people aren’t interested. But we also don’t want to do just one event a year so our goal is to do six a year, says Neal. The next event might be something geared towards the holiday season like helping at a soup kitchen or helping a drive collecting toys for kids for Christmas.
 

 

 

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 17 December 2008 23:26 )
 

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