T2NY/NJ/CT India Abroad May 2, 2014
Over 250 people attended the 15th annual gala of the Desai Foundation in downtown Manhattan recently. The event raised
It will be met with additional donations from the Desai family to mark a
total of almost $400,000 to support the
opening of 10 more community centers
The community center program provides essential health services, hygiene
education, vocational training, and computer classes in rural India.
The Desai Foundation has successfully
built three such centers in Gujarat.
Samir Desai, founder and chief executive officer of the organization, described
his life in a small town in India, without
electricity, running water, paved roads,
motorized vehicles, or many things that
people take for granted.
‘Playgrounds, toys, pre-school and
kindergarten learning or a library, show-
ers, good toilets and the telephones were
nowhere to be found. Resources and
exposure to the outside world were rare
or limited. This limits your ambition,
your imagination…it limits your dreams,’
he said. The memories of those days
egged him on to help others.
‘We are incredibly honored by the out-
pouring of support we have received from
our local community,’ said Megha Desai,
director of the foundation. ‘Our greatest
goal is to inspire others to participate and
understand how they can make a difference
in the lives of many by lending their time
and interest to those who need our help.’
The foundation honored Chintu Patel,
chief executive officer, Amneal Pharma-
ceuticals, for his support to the community.
‘It’s an honor to be given the opportunity
to join with the Desai Foundation and celebrate 15 years of incredible work. Their
work is truly inspiring and is a great example for us all to follow,’ Patel said.
In addition to dinner and dancing, the
evening featured a unique musical collaboration by Indian singer Falu and jazz
ensemble Stay Human, led by Jon Batiste.
DJ Kunal Merchant led the dance floor
with Indian-Western fusion beats.
Among others who attended the event
were Justin Wilkes, president, Radical
Media; Payal Kadakia, founder, Classtivity;
Hitha Prabhaker, ABC correspondent;
Reshma Saujani, founder, Girls Who Code
and Raj Goyle, Democratic politician from
Kansas, who represented the 87th District
in the Kansas House of Representatives
from 2007 to 2011.
Celebrating 15 years of community service
The Desai family. From left, Megha, Nilima and Samir Desai.
Over 200 people attended the fifth fundraiser organized by New Jersey- based DIA, Dedicated Indians of
The nonprofit, which aims to eradicate illiteracy and support education for all, raised funds
for an inner-city school in Detroit through the
Rahil Mathur, 17, of Englewood Cliffs, New
Jersey, who is a junior at Horace Mann School
in New York City, spoke about how DIA
inspired him to start his nonprofit Octave
Music, which offers guitar and piano lessons to
children at nominal charges.
He is working towards his high school diploma in piano, which he expects to receive next
month. Rahil is also working towards the Carnegie Hall certification in classical guitar. All
proceeds from Octave Music go to DIA and its
Nikhita Navani, an inner school city teacher
from Detroit, who attended the event, recounted the physical and mental hardships under
which students survive there.
She was the inspiration and the reason for
choosing the school in Detroit as a major DIA
project this year.
Guest speaker Vikram Venkataraman, vice
president, PNC Healthcare Banking, encouraged the youth
to learn to give back to society. DIA also received a proclamation from the Mayor of Haworth, John D Dereinzo.
Mayor of Demarest, New Jersey, Raymond J Cywinski
praised the organization for its efforts.
DIA focuses on community service and volunteer activi-
ties. In the last five years, youth members have been able to
facilitate education, shelter, medical and vocational needs
for over 100 children in India.
Locally, members have volunteered at senior-care centers, participated in food drives and soup kitchens, volunteered in Sandy-relief areas to build homes.
Over 200 attend gala to fund underprivileged kids
A snapshot from the event.