Sewa's Kickoff Event Kicks off to a Splendid Start
Sewa International's (www.Sewausa.org) key focus is to significantly impact our everyday neighborhood by providing family/child welfare, disaster recovery, and promoting volunteerism. This strive for excellence was highlighted through the 2023 Sewa LEAD Kickoff event for the Chicago Chapter held in the Mall of India banquet hall on Jan 21, 2023. LEADS and parents came together to wrap up the successful 2022 chapter and start welcoming new and returning leads for the 2023 one.
The meeting started with the traditional Lighting of The Lamp: Jyothi Prajwalan and returning LEAD's chanting of the sacred verse Asato Ma. Soon after, a warm welcome was given to all who were joined by Aparna Rai; Aparna Ji highlighted the night's primary focus and made everyone feel ready to start Sewa's new beginning.
Next on the agenda was the Overview of Sewa presented by Dipti Desai (Coordinator for Chicago Chapter) and Sandeep Khadkekar (National VP of Marketing). They touched upon Sewa's mission of serving humanity in distress, aiding local communities, running development projects for the underserved, and assisting people in transforming change through innovation. This mission led Sandeep Ji to talk about Sewa's vision of aspiring to be the pre-eminent Hindu faith-based, humanitarian organization that serves with compassion to make a positive impact. Families got a clear picture of Sewa's strive toward bettering our tomorrow. Thanks to Dipti Ji, parents understood Sewa's STAR Projects such as Sponsor a Child, Sanitation & Hygiene Projects, Family Services, Doctors for Sewa, and ASPIRE. These programs can get the community involved and help people in need. Sewa also focused a lot on volunteering in the past year. The Chicago Chapter in 2022 had 50+ students enrolled in the LEAD program and contributed 2600+ hours towards the community. There were 75 activities hosted by the Sewa Chicago chapter and 20+ partners involved with the program. Sewa Chicago has also involved itself in 5 webinars about legal documents, supported multiple domestic violence cases and reunited families, and conducted 4 Stop Diabetes Movement sessions. These efforts have allowed Sewa to help with Food Drives by collecting and donating 23,000 lbs of food to 15 Chicagoland pantries and has partnered with over 50 Organizations. To recognize the hard work that Sewa has been doing across the Chicagoland area, Sewa has received the Golden Peacock Award from Global Eye Magazine for its community service.
Then the agenda shifted toward the Sewa Chicago Chapter for the LEAD and DTL Program presented by Nags Rajaram and Nitish Shah. They explained the details of the LEAD; it is a volunteering program for High School students to develop community leadership skills. It helps build holistic personalities and provides the youth to serve the community. Nags Ji highlighted the benefits of being part of the program: bonding with other kids and experiencing the joy of servicing the community. At the end of the year, certificates will be awarded to participants and members who have stayed committed and qualify for the President's Volunteer Service Award (PVSA); one of the most critical aspects of the LEAD program is to stay involved with the program, and this award highlights members who show passion toward making an impact. The LEAD program consists of 70% Volunteer services such as Community work and Environmental clean up. The other 30% goes toward individual development, such as career work and holistic work like yoga, meditation, and Fundraising. After hearing about the main LEAD program, Nitsh Ji shifted the focus toward the Design to Lead (DTL) program. The DTL program is an immersive program centered around the Chapter's Core Initiatives/ Projects. They have a combination of Didatics and Workshops to help kids in the LEAD program to become better thinkers and work on problem-solving.
After the LEAD Program and DTL Introduction, the CGI gave a keynote addressing the Sewa Chicago chapter. With a diverse background as Consul General, Somnath Ghosh was very excited for the new chapter that Sewa Chicago had in store for the new year. Awards for the Sewa 2022 Chicago Chapter were awarded after CGI Ghosh's address. This year Sewa had 18 PVSAs for people of various ages and many certificates for LEADs who participated throughout the 2022 year. After the awards, the mic was handed to Sewa Chicago's Leaders and Partners. Alderwomen for Ward 10, Aurora, IL, Shweta Baid was present and gave a speech commending Sewa Chicago's hard work and effort. Dr. Vijay G Prabhakar, editor-in-chief at Global Eye-Digital New Monthly and Chairman at Global Strategic Alliance Inc, also gave a commanding speech about Sewa Chicago and their work. A final word was said by Madhu Uppal, a retired educator who taught general science in middle school for nine years, who provided her positive opinion about the work that Sewa has done over the past year.
After the mentions by notable partners, 2022 LEAD Participants Vedant Shukla, Harsha Gangasani, Kyna Sahni, and Hemall Madalam gave a presentation about the 2022 LEAD program. They mentioned that this is a volunteering program for rising and current high schoolers and contains lectures by various community leaders about business, nonprofits, medical, etc. They mentioned partners like Shelter INC, Wings, Feed My Starving Children, Adopt a Highway and many more. Pictures commemorated the work participants did throughout the year, and the incoming families saw what was to come in the new year. DTL was also mentioned regarding their mission to teach participants about being empathetic problem solvers who can help society by using their solutions and thinking methodology. Their goals lie in empathetically observing their communities, communicating with stakeholders through interviews, brainstorming solutions based on stringent criteria, and developing prototypes for solution needs.
After recapping the 2022 Sewa Chicago Chapter, the transition toward speaking about the 2023 LEAD program began. An introduction of the 2023 team was initiated, and the new session began. A quick nod to the partners of Sewa was made to thank them for their efforts in helping them grow.
The Kickoff closed with a quick Shanti Mantram (Chanting for Peace), and the Sewa Kickoff came to a close.
Sewa International (www.sewausa.org) is a Hindu faith-based, humanitarian, nonprofit service organization registered under Internal Revenue Code 501 (c) (3). Founded in 2003, Sewa International is part of a larger movement that started in India in 1989 and is active in twenty countries. Sewa serves humanity irrespective of race, color, religion, gender or nationality.
We specialize in disaster relief and rehabilitation. Our development programs focus on family services; child, tribal and refugee welfare; women empowerment; health; and education.
In addition to our work in the US, we have undertaken development projects in Colombia, Guyana, India, Kenya, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.