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Lokvani Talks To Dr. Vasundhara Kalasapudi Of India Home

Nirmala Garimella
06/20/2010

If you are ever traveling around Queens in New York city and happen to spot a white minivan that sports a logo of India’s tricolors and an address called India Home, chances are you will find it filled with seniors citizens smiling and chatting like any school children in a bus.

 

The reason: Once a week on different days, senior citizens of Indian descent living in New York get ready to visit one of their favorite places in the city – India Home located at 4 different centers in New York to meet their friends, take part in various social, recreational, cultural and spiritual activities that are in tune with their roots and culture. They are not home bound, restricted by mode of transport and isolated by language or culture. In fact if you talk to any of them they are rediscovering the joys of fun and laughter and living life to the full.


So what then is India Home?  The brainchild of Dr. Vasundhra Kalasupudi, a specialist in geriatric and psychiatric care in New York, the idea came as an inspiration after her personal experience with her own father suffering from vascular dementia. His last days were full of isolation and no social interaction and mental stimulation in his own village. Similarly, she found, other parents  who came here suffered a similar fate. “It finally dawned on me," said Dr. Kalasapudi, “that
these people need a place of their own, one that is reminiscent of their Indian roots. For this reason, India Home was born”

So today, people like her father and other senior citizens of South Asian descent are busy making new friends, learning new skills, embracing new experiences, discussing spirituality and literature with other seniors, and communicating regularly with old friends and colleagues. What is making the difference for these home bound seniors is India Home, which Dr. Vasundhara Kalasapudi describes as ‘senior centers that can cause opportunities for successful aging among communities” To be physically fit  and mentally and socially active, is the motto of these centers.”


A minivan enables the home bound seniors to reach these places and is  especially useful for seniors who don't speak English, or aren't comfortable using the subways. Once they arrive they are kept busy with programs that typically run for half a day till 2pm . These may range from  birthday celebrations and trips to local museums and parks. A typical days program may include exercise,yoga and meditation,  medical, social and legal services, group activity in arts, crafts and discussion,celebrations of festivals and birthdays ,recreation in the form of movies, music and games  and  spirituality: in the form of lectures, discussions and bhajans.Classes in English, computers and Citizenship are also included for interested participants.

 

India Home ( www.indiahome.org) registered as  not for profit in  2007. It opened its first center at Sai Mandir in Long Island on April 6th 2008 with the help of the Nori Family foundation. Doshi Family foundation donated 14 handicapped accessible minibus to transport the seniors from their homes to the centers. A philanthropic physician Dr. Beppy Edasery sponsored space for India home at Kerala Center in Elmont, where India home opened its 3rd center in DEC 2008.The 4th center at Sunnyside Community services (2nd partnership with local senior centers) at Sunnyside, Queens opened in March 2009. Dr Kalaspudi is hopeful that the donor base will increase over time with help from individuals, grants and partnerships.

One such partners is SNAP (Services Now for Adult Persons) with whose help the first center in Queens at Belleros opened. Dr. Kalasapudi says that many community members helped in the form of giving donations and volunteering services. Ultimately she hopes that they will be self sufficient and sustainable and the more active seniors will  take the responsibility to keep it going”

Mr. Dama Venkayya registered the organization and Dr. Nehru Cherukupalli helped  with the articles incorporation. Dr. Vasundhara Kalasapudi  acts as its President, Dr. Amit Sood as Vice President, Mr. Gnanendra Sinha as Secretary, Ms. Shanti Mudumba as Treasurer and Dr. Kiran Davein charge of Medical Services and Mr. Paulose Arikupurathu manages the Public Relations. Ms. Avani Sinha (program coordinator) and Mr. Joel Palma (Transportation in charge) actively coordinate and run the center.

An ongoing effort is being made to help build a temple with donations. Another new initiative is developing partnership for this year (2010) with Selfhelp Inc. in Queens to develop social day program for seniors with mild memory problems and senior housing.

If you wish to get involved or help with the program please visit www.indiahome.org or contact them at 917-288-7600/917-288-7624, 917-288-7626.
India Home
P.O. Box 40263
Glen Oaks, NY 11004
(917) 288-7600

http://www.indiahome.org/
info@indiahome.org
http://www.youtube.com/user/IndiaHomeUSA



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Accepting the CSCS award.


Minivan


with son Lakshman Kalasapudi


seniors at the Vipassana center


At Sunnyside center

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