Meet The Ten 2018 Lokvani Community Heroes
Lokvani is thrilled to honor Varavani Dwarki, Dilip Gandhi, Sneh Jaisingh, Jyoti Muzumdar, Sanjay Padaki, Rekha Palriwala, Jayantibhai Patel, Nishikanta Sahoo, Manoj Shah and Usha Verma as Community Heroes at the 2nd Annual Lokvani Community and Youth Night to be held on Dec. 15 at Ambrosia Banquet Hall in Foxborough, MA.
Varavani Dwarki, an alumnus of IISc, Bengaluru, is currently the Head of Alliance Management at Editas Medicine and formerly a Vice President at Sanofi.
For past many years, in his spare time, Dwarki has been an untiring and inspiring volunteer at many of the area events and is the silent force at organizations such as Mandaara, New England Kannada Koota (NEKK), Ranga Taranga, and more.
At NEKK events, Dwarki handles program logistics and helps in many aspects of the successful conduct of an event. He is always willing to serve with a smile and takes care of everyone irrespective of their age! Often arriving early and helping; Dwarki misses a lot of on-stage programs but continues to serve each year. At the stage shows held by Ranga Taranga (a cultural non-profit organization) in partnership NEKK, Dwarki has contributed in planning and organizing the events. His very presence is an assurance to the organizers that things will go fine!
Dwarki has successfully completed the Boston Marathon, and other New England area marathons, and loves to ride long distance on his bicycle – raising funds for causes such as Rare Diseases research, etc. In the past two years, Dwarki has floated an informal group of runners and walkers called as “Modest Marathoners”. Currently, this group has over 70 people from all age groups. He inspires many newbies to walk or jog, and explore their potential. Because of this, group members have started running to stay fit, inspire each other, support and bring out the best in all. He has inspired a few members to successfully run marathon and many more to run or just walk shorter distances regularly.
Dwarki continues to be a positive influence in the community - inspiring many and serving the people around him wherever he goes!
Dilip Gandhi has been a long time (nearly 40 years) volunteer at Shishu Bharati. He has been volunteering without a break for all these years. His efforts have helped grow Shishu Bharati from a basement classroom of a handful of students into one of the premier institutions of the country imparting a secular Indian education to young children from Kindergarten through 8th grade.
He has been a role model and mentor to hundreds of younger volunteers at Shishu Bharati. Though his kids graduated 25-30 years ago, he still never seizes to serve Shishu Bharati. He has also served as a volunteer at Jain Center for many years while he was a volunteer at Shishu Bharati.
Over the years, he has served as a president, secretary, director, teacher, officer, and now just as a volunteer. One can sense the love he has for the School and the passion he feels for its mission to introduce children to Indian culture and languages. His service to the institution is truly selfless and he spends countless hours every week mentoring new teachers and helping to run the logistics of the school day. We are at a record 509 students at the Lexington location this year and we would be lost but for his experience in crowd management and control.
Dilip Gandhi is a math teacher at the charter school AMSA during the week and he brings this expertise of handling young children to the teacher workshops we conduct at Shishu Bharati for our volunteer teachers and he offers advice on how to manage a classroom of students with diverse learning styles.
He is in the Assembly hall every Sunday making the announcements, managing the snack area during the break and supervising the dismissal at the end of the day. He sets up the sound system for the various programs that happen during the academic year.
Every summer, he updates our student handbook for the upcoming year and makes sure that the curriculum stays consistent with both the goals of Shishu Bharati as well as the evolving needs of the children of the new crop of parents, some of whom are second generation Indian American themselves.
He sets the tone for a cohesive, collaborative and smooth operation across all 3 branches of the school. It is remarkable that even after 40 years of volunteering in Shishu Bharati, his enthusiasm has not waned. He is a true inspiration. He is an institution builder.
Hindi Manch is a non-profit organization, started 10 years back, and to support the language and culture, has organized more than 70 different events.. With commitment for the noble cause, focus on quality and dedication for our language and culture Hindi Manch became the largest Hindi organization in USA.. This year Hindi Manch is celebrating its 10th year and is organizing the first ever 3 day long National Hindi Manch festival in the US.
Sneh Jaisingh has been with Hindi Manch right from the inception of the organization and is one of the key contributors to the success of this organization. She joined the team as a volunteer and soon became a member of the core committee. She is co-leading the Hindi Manch SaReGaMaPa committee that is organizing its first USA Hindi Manch SaReGaMaPa with more than 200 singers from all over USA and Canada, judged by legendary singer Kavitha Krishnamurthy ji.
Sneh has many qualities and due to them she is a favorite of everyone at Hindi Manch. While she is a very hard working person, she is a great team player and an excellent leader.. She works tirelessly towards the goal, helps others proactively and makes sure that everyone in the team is happy and is enjoying working with the organization. People often call her a ‘diamond’ or ‘gem’ for the organization. Her dedication for our language and culture is admirable and her time and energy to support the cause is priceless.
Jyoti Muzumdar has been a member of the Chinmaya Mission since 1996. Always wearing a big smile, ever ready to help everyone, Jyoti ji makes herself very useful at the Chinmaya Mission. Although she has a petite and humble appearance, her work ethics are great and the amount of effort she puts in is huge.
Chinmaya Mission is lucky to have her expertise in decoration and her preciseness in making everything look so tidy and beautiful, including the closets. Whether it is teaching kids at Balavihar or being always punctual and helping during events at the temple or being at the external events as an ambassador of the mission, taking care of visitors or Acharyas at the temple, helping summer camps, etc., Jyoti ji is always available, and ever ready to help. Whenever we need help or we are perhaps clueless of where things are, we jokingly say call 911 – that is Jyoti ji’s number! Thus, she supports and enables many volunteers to carry out their work.
However, it does not end here, in spite of being a senior citizen herself, she also makes her presence felt by helping at a Senior center in the Greater Boston area. This super-energetic person who never boasts about how many hours she has quietly put in towards the community is a role model to several of us who always talk about aging beautifully.
Sanjay is Senior Director, Pharmaceutical Operations, Vertex Pharmaceutical, Inc and has been a an active volunteer for the town of Lexington and in the community for a very long time.
Volunteer activities include Lexington Town Meeting Member, Precinct 8, 2015 - present. and a representative in local government legislative body responsible for reviewing and approving all fiscal, zoning and by-laws of the town.
He has also been in the Lexington Appropriation Committee member, 2017 - present and a Voting member of committee responsible for reviewing, approving and reporting on all fiscal matters of the town.
Sanjay has been part of the Indian Americans of Lexington - Getting Involved Group as a Founding member, 2015 - present. It is an informal organization with a mission to promote civic engagement in town government via information sessions, town halls and candidate forums
As a volunteer for the Indian Americans of Lexington, 2006 - present
volunteering in various capacities in the civic organization with a mission to celebrate and share the diverse Indian culture, heritage and values to benefit the community.
He is also a Board member at the Chinmaya Mission Boston.
Sanjay participates in the Vertex Pharmaceuticals Annual Day of Service, 2006 - present and also helped at the Town of Lexington 300th Anniversary celebration as an event photographer
In a growing community with burgeoning associations, sprawling hobby/interest groups we can count on one person who will be behind the lights, beavering away furiously, and calmly dealing with the loud entropy that is part of our Indian DNA.
That is Rekha Palriwala.
Over the last 15 years her quiet, confident, assured, immense, unseen support has helped multiple organizations and events bind us together.
Whether it is ticketing, distribution, back-stage grind, marketing; host supporters in her hospitable and warm home - she's everywhere.
For our events, hers is the first name we count on. And fortunately for many years, she was our neighbor. Prashanth said it best "If the world had neighbors like her and Mahesh-Ji, it would be a far more wonderful place"
Jayantibhai Patel is a member Director of Volunteering for Indian Circle for Caring USA Inc., (ICC). He has been involved with ICC from its beginning in August 2007. Over the years has made many contributions – serving ICC clients, helping with community outreach efforts, being an advocate for ICC and its mission as well as helping with program and projects.
Over the years, he has been a proven resource for a variety of responsibilities at ICC. He is an exemplary volunteer and a leader for the organization. He is always ready to help a person in need!
He is also a cofounder and on Executive Committee of “Friends of Indian Senior Citizens” (FISCO) of Burlington, Massachusetts. He is active in variety of other social and religious organizations.
Jayantibhai grew up in Ahmedabad. His educational background includes a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics. His professional career included his role as a Bank Manager, and also started few businesses, such as construction, travel agency etc. He moved to the US in 1991, and similar to his life in India, he worked as a sales agent for Radio Shack, and started a number of small family owned businesses.
He is retired from business and professional life and now focuses on supporting family and serving community. He lives with his wife Bhartiben Patel, daughter Sejal, son in law Jigar and two grandchildren in Lexington, Massachusetts.
Nishikanta Sahoo had taken the initiative and leadership in promoting/sharing Odishan arts and culture in various forums like Museum of Fine Arts (MFA), Bagong Kulturang Pinoy (BKP) Philippines, Indian Association of Greater Boston (IAGB), ISKCON, beyond the local chapter activities of Odisha Society of America (OSA). He had also taken the initiative to organize special programs for various visiting renowned artists from Odisha.
He had actively contributed/supported Rural Mathematics Talent Search (RMTS) program in Odisha via SEEDS, USA, and taken initiative in setting up RMTS examination center in his village through his family and friends. Many bright students from his native place received scholarships and one girl student from his village secured top position in Mathematics Olympiad in the state of Odisha and 4th position in India.
He was a Foundation For Excellence (FFE) coordinator volunteer in USA. Many bright and needy students received scholarships through this program in his native place and college.
Within Odisha Society of Americas (OSA), he has been actively involved/led various Odisha development projects and seminars.
He had taken initiative to organize a seminar on "Waste Management: Challenges/opportunities in Odisha" in Washington, DC in July 2015 during OSA convention involving key policy makers from Govt of Odisha and subject matter experts from Waste Management Inc, National Waste & Recycling Association. A team comprising visiting key policy maker from Govt. of Odisha visited US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator and experts for a discussion.
He, along with "OSA Public Library Initiative (OPLI)" volunteers, taken initiative to organize several "public library development" seminars/open forums in USA and Odisha/India. Odisha Society of America (OSA) had proposed/funded Govt. of Odisha to establish Information & Communication Technology (ICT) enabled model public libraries in cyclone and flood affected area of Odisha. The CM of Odisha inaugurated the first digital public library of Odisha in Berhampur, Odisha in August 2017. OSA has been actively pursuing/advocating for a "well integrated modern public library system in Odisha". He has been leading the efforts and has taken initiative to establish an "Odisha Public Library Initiative (OPLI)" fund in OSA to support public library movement in Odisha/India.
Sri Sahoo had served as president of Odisha Society of New England (OSNE) in the past from 2009 to 2011. He has been working in the networking and communication industry and currently lives in Nashua, NH with his family.
Manoj Shah came to the United States in 1982 after completing his BS in mechanical engineering from S.P University and MBA from Bajaj Institute in Mumbai India. After his arrival in Massachusetts, he joined Lowell University and completed his MS in computer engineering and joined Mass lottery commission as software engineer. In 1984 he then joined DEC (Digital Equipment Corp), and worked there for 17 years in various positions. Manoj Shah has also worked with AMCC, SONUS, and BTI and currently works at eClinicalworks.
Manoj Shah joined Gurjar’s executive committee in 1982 as a treasurer and has since then served the organization for over 25 years. Manoj has held various key positions, including the Presidency for multiple times. As a staunch supporter of the association and a firm believer, he supported the organization that serves the cultural values to the Gujarati population as well as across the Indian diaspora.
In all his years of service, he has never missed any major event, hardly ever missed a meeting, had always prioritized Gurjar’s activities, letting his children follow him to Gurjar all the way.
Manoj Shah was also involved in Shishu Bharati (school of language and culture) as a part of the school executive committee in Burlington, unfailing arriving in time every Sunday, rain or shine before the assembly bell sounded. He is currently involved in Shishu Bharati in Nashua, as a volunteer and you see him there every Sunday with the same true dedication.
Manoj has been a pillar of strength to his wife, Jasmine, the well-known founder of “Aangikam Dance Academy”. The community knows how Aangikam students under the guidance of Jasmine provide entertainment for events in the Indian community, be it INE Diwali festival/mela, temple inauguration, cultural programs, by Gurjar, IAGB or ISW.
The glory and the accolades come to Jasmine, but little do people know, that Manoj is and has been the backbone of all the free entertainment that Jasmine’s troupes provide.
Manoj has been the man behind the scene, logging every prop that’s needed for various programs, silently sits through the program videotaping, so his wife can use the information for future improvements. This sometimes requires the patience of a saint. At the end of the program all the applause and thanks go to the teacher and the performers. We have yet to hear an applause or a thank you said to Manoj on the podium, for all these years of his services to Aangikam Dance Academy. His overall community service speaks for itself.
Usha Verma, M.A., Licensed Social Worker (LSW) is an active member of the India Society of Worcester (ISW) since the early 1980's. During her first few years with ISW, Usha became teacher at the cultural school teaching Hindi language, Music (bhajans) and a religion class. Beside her role as a school teacher, Usha served as Chairperson of the Crisis Committee for more than 15 years. Although she has stepped down as chairperson, she continues to be an active volunteer at the same committee. Usha Verma is also a Domestic Violence Prevention Advocate at Saheli. Usha has worked several years serving elders in the local Worcester community and with adults who have special needs. She graduated with distinction from Punjab University in Chandigarh, India, with a Master’s of Liberal Arts degree specializing in music. Usha immigrated to the United States in 1982, raised her own family of three children and continues to follow her passion for sitar education and performance in New England area.
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