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Getting Involved Group Of Lexington Talk About Getting Involved

Syed Ali Rizvi

On 5th December, the Getting Involved Group, (GIG), which comprises of seven volunteers who are also elected Town Meeting members in Lexington, namely Sanjay Padaki, Pam Joshi, Narain Bhatia, Ravish Kumar,  Dinesh Patel, Syed Ali Rizvi, and Saatvik Ahluwalia, in association with the Indian Americans Of Lexington, organized an informational talk followed by an interactive session at the Lexington Community Center, on how the Indian Americans in Lexington get more involved in the town governance. The 2014 population in Lexington was 32,306 of which Indian Americans were estimated to be 5%-6%. Enrollment of Indian Americans is about 12% of all students in Lexington Public Schools and growing. The seminar was well-attended and speakers shared their experiences of past and current civic involvement and outlined how they also found time between familial responsibility, professional engagement to give back and volunteer in the town.

The event was emceed by Syed Ali Rizvi. He mentioned how Indian Americans are a very resourceful group and most of us can and should find time to volunteer in town positions and help in the continuous growth of Lexington as part of our civic responsibility. 

Narain Bhatia, a veteran in town activities, spoke about GIG and the history of Indian Americans in US and how the presence of Indians has evolved over the last several decades. He found it very satisfying and crucially important for more Indians to come forth. 

Joe Pato, the chairman of the Board of Selectman, educated the gathering on the town Government, the role of the Board of Selectmen, Planning and Housing Boards, the School Committee and how these volunteer boards/commissions etc., work with the elected/appointed positions in the town. He elaborated on the strong desire to have more groups that are now coming into the town to give back and get involved.  
There were several speakers who have been active in Lexington, like Shubhra Chandra, Deepika Sawhney, Geetha Padaki, Pam Joshi, Ravish Kumar and Puran Dang, who then spoke about how they have been engaged in the town and how their volunteer work helps them to be in the know. They talked about their personal reasons to be involved which ranged from trying to find more information on programs and services and resources offered by the town to the importance of giving for the benefit of the larger Lexington community. Pam Joshi, stressed how her professional work syncs with her volunteer activities as Director of a policy research institute. Generally, most highlighted the fact that where there is a will, there is a way and in- spite of having a job, kids in school and the umpteen number of other engagements, others can find time like they did. 

Sanjay Padaki in his presentation very eloquently went in detail and outlined the various important election filing dates and positions available for the Town meeting elections and how people can suggest their names for inclusion in committees that do not have elections, but welcome residents to serve along with them. All the five founders of the Indian Americans of Lexington, a non-profit that has been active for several years – Puran Dang, Nirmala Garimella, Archana Singhal, Co-Presidents of IAL, Sudha Balasuryan and Geeta Kannan were there in support and appreciation of the work of the GIG volunteers. 

Ravish Kumar mentioned that in the two focus groups that deliberated on their “take-away message” from this seminar, was that we get engaged in the town and the first thing is to “take-the-plunge”. 

Dr. Dinesh Patel thanked the attendees and specially Sanjay Padaki and Ravish Kumar for their extra effort into putting this seminar together. He thanked Joe Pato for taking time off his busy schedule to give his informative talk to the GIG attendees. 

GIG members will guide, help, mentor and provide all necessary support to anyone interested in volunteering in town governance. Those desirous to pursue any elected or non-elected positions in the town can contact any of the GIG people or e mail narainb@gmail.com, for more details.  

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