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In Conversation With Shefali Kalyani

Nirmala Garimella
05/22/2013

Shefali Kalyani was raised in Lowell, Massachusetts. She now lives in Salem, NH along with her husband Vinay and two children Anisha and Sahil. Shefali works full time as a Quality Assurance Analyst at Liberty Mutual Insurance Company in Portsmouth, NH. Along with her husband she founded a non profit called We Care Charity which blends in a unique giving within Nashua as well as in India.

Tell us about your non-profit We Care Charity?

Vinay and I have started a non-profit organization called We Care Charity. Our mission is simply to feed and clothe people in need.  I have always wanted to help people at the most basic level. Once we committed to pursing this passion, We Care Charity was born. We began early on by making calls to our local soup kitchens to see how we could help. I’ll never forget the day I received a return call from the Nashua Soup Kitchen asking us to cook for 200 people. My first reaction was, “Oh WOW! 200?” But with the help of my husband and few friends, we successfully managed to serve a fresh, well-balanced meal. The service was warmly appreciated and we were humbled by their gratitude. This certainly fueled my deep-rooted desire of wanting to feed those in need. 

What are the activities of the charity?

We currently cook for Nashua Soup Kitchen and Dover Children's Home, both in New Hampshire. We purchase groceries, cook, and serve 220 people per month. We stand out because all of our food is made fresh. We serve the guests like we would serve our family, avoiding canned, processed, and frozen foods to the best of our ability. This requires extra planning and preparation, but we strive to make our guests feel welcome and valued.

Dover Children's Home is a non-profit organization funded by the State of NH, but recently the state has cut back their support from covering 90% of their budget to a mere 37%.  As a result, they have had to cut back from providing things we often take for granted, such as fresh fruits. As a mother, this was hard for me to hear. These children have a rough enough start in this world without being deprived of the very things that help their minds and bodies grow and keep them healthy.  We Care Charity has started collecting fresh fruits from our local temples after pujas are completed and donating them to the children.  We also provide fresh, home-cooked meals to the children once a month. I wish I could do more for these children, but we have to start somewhere.

You also send clothes to India. How does that work?

Our second focus, equally as important to us, is the collection of clothes for India.  India has a large population of under provided for people. Here in America, we are all proud of our heritage and rightly so; but we buy Indian clothes and hardly wear them. After a few uses, they sit in our closets practically-new, without a place to be donated to. I called many Indian organizations to see if send clothes to India. When everyone said no because it is extremely time consuming and expensive, we decided to try it ourselves. Our first collection shipped 550 pounds of Indian and American clothes to Bangalore, India.  What a success! The process that we adopted worked.  We gained confidence and assurance that this was a sustainable way to give. Our next shipment is under way and we project to send over 2500 pounds to help the needy in rural villages in Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan.  We are working with local authorized charities in India to help us with the distribution logistics.  None of this could be done without the overwhelming support of our community, but it needs to continue. In our basement, we currently have more than 3000 pounds of clothes collected and stored. We have volunteers who come in every weekend to help us sort, fold and pack clothes into the shipping boxes. Because of the shipping costs we have asked people who donate clothing to consider donating $1.00 per pound. One hundred percent of your donations go directly towards our cause. We purchase shipping boxes and supplies such as tape and have to cover the cost of shipping though UPS, and other mailing organizations. Without financial donations, We Care Charity would not be sustainable nor expandable. The reason we ask for donation is so we can continue to afford this process on an ongoing basis. We would like to send clothes to India three times a year to help different parts of the country. Only with donations and volunteers this project is possible.

Lastly, we hold winter jacket drives for our local shelters. Last winter we donated over 200 jackets, coats, and other winter accessories to Nashua shelters.

How can people help if they wish to get involved?

We Care Charity is a grassroots organization; it began with my family and today is supported by donations from friends, family and colleagues at work. The need will always grow faster than the pool of people and resources available to support it, so we continuously work to spread awareness and gain support. A donation of $100 feeds 40 people, and every dollar donated goes directly to the cause. Right now we feed 220 people per month, but my personal goal is to feed 500.

We are a legal non-profit organization and are approved by the State of NH and by the Federal Government. Our 501(c) (3) title is currently pending. All donations are tax deductible and all the money goes directly to the needy as we do not have any overhead costs.  We appreciate any help you can provide to raise awareness, get volunteer help, and above all collect funds. I can promise you, it is appreciated by our charity but it is a blessing to those it helps.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me at 603-560-1471 or e-mail me at Shefali_kalyani@yahoo.com

Please visit us at www.wecarecharity.org and click on Donation to help us.

Like us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/wecarecharityNH?ref=tn_tnmn

Mail Checks to:

We Care Charity
16 Deerfield Street
Salem, NH 03079



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