Vibha Atlanta Plays Again

Chess volunteers

“Excellent planning”, “Smooth execution”, “Well organized”, “Great competition” were some of the comments being heard during Vibha Atlanta’s 12th annual Dream Play event sponsored by North Fulton Smiles.  The dedicated Vibha Altanta and Vibha Youth members worked tirelessly to make the event happen. The Vibha Youth members planned the fundraiser, designed the fliers, spread the word and did the publicity since last November to execute this event.

The youth lead for the Chess event was Khushboo Sarda with guidance from the parent lead, Rekha Savant. “We had around 170 players of all ages, young and old who wanted to play for a good cause and also compete at the same time. The enthusiasm and energy of the participants was evident from the way they surged into the venue as soon as the doors opened for the competition,” said Khushboo. The Chess Tournament, sponsored by H2K Infosys, was conducted first on Feb 7th, 2015 at South Forsyth Middle School. It took all day and attracted many participants ranging from students in elementary school to adults. Chess had 6 categories – Three rated (Championship, Reserve and Novice) and three unrated (Grades 3 and below, Grades 4 – 12 and Adults) which was professionally managed by Steve Schneider and Keith Sewell of Championship Chess.  The top three winners from each category were given trophies. A Star trophy was also given to  rated participants who had a score of 2.5 and higher.

The Table Tennis Tournament, sponsored by India Plaza, happened second and was conducted on Feb 28th Feb, 2015 at the Atlanta International Table Tennis Academy. The Youth lead for Table Tennis event was Jai Mareddy (under guidance of the parent lead Sayli Deshmukh). The TT event saw people from all ages participating for a good cause and competing with gusto. “A lot of the adults participated for the nostalgia and [enjoyed] the fact that they were able to give back to the community while having fun in the process,” admitted Jai. The tournament was managed by Archana Athalye of Archi’s Table Tennis Club.  Trophies were awarded to 1st place winners and the first runner up in the categories of Junior Singles, Men Singles, Women Singles, Men doubles and Mixed.

This was yet another successful year of a very well organized event by Vibha’s youth wing.  Events like these are an excellent opportunity for Vibha Youth to experience and develop leadership skills and contribute to a cause which helps underprivileged children.  Vibha Youth also provides an opportunities to do hands on volunteering locally to the youth of Atlanta.  Below are links to the different events!

http://events.vibha.org/atlanta/dreamplay

http://wiki.vibha.org/Atlanta:Vibha_Youth

Vibha Denver Paints Their Future

By Vibha Denver

Vibha Denver organized a Painting and Drawing Competition for children from ages five and up  on Feb 28, 2015. This is our first event for 2015. The event was used as an awareness event to raise awareness about Vibha and attract new volunteers. This event served also as a team building activity, since we had a few new volunteers join us late last year . The new volunteers were very enthusiastic and involved during the event. One of our new volunteers, Leena Keshwani volunteered to lead the event, and excelled in doing so. The enthusiasm and involvement from our volunteers boosts our confidence about the success of future events.  We also had a few new volunteers sign up for VIBHA, Denver. The turnout was good, inspite of the severe weather conditions on the day of the event. All the young artists who participated thoroughly enjoyed the event. We will incorporate what we learned from this event to chalk a clearer path while planning our next event for the year: Nritya 2015.

Vibha Atlanta Youth Helps with Grace

Meals by Grace

By Sneha Kadiyala

Vibha Atlanta youth volunteers recently worked with Meals by Grace at a volunteer event on Sunday, March 15th. Meals by Grace is an organization that packs and provides meals for socioeconomically challenged children. They make, pack and deliver nutritious meals to households with limited or no transportation. About twenty youth volunteers received the opportunity to volunteer at the operation. I was lucky to be one among them.

The volunteer process began at 1:00. We met at a church that provided its kitchen to help house this program. The volunteers signed up at the front desk, and then gathered in the auditorium. Suellen Daniels explained the origins and purpose of Meals By Grace. The non-profit charity started in the Daniels’ kitchen and kept expanding to larger locations to fit the amount of interested volunteers. The program was making plans to change to a bigger church, because they had recently outgrown the church we had volunteered at. After the speech, we were split up into different tasks. There were five official teams: the bread/dessert team, the kitchen duty team, fruit/salad prep team, and the dishwashing team. The day we volunteered, they had added a special duty team. The organization had small miscellaneous tasks that it handed out to extra volunteers.

I was assigned to the cleaning team. We were in charge of cleaning out the freezer and the refrigerator. The operation ran smoothly as the cooks moved to the side to accommodate us. After finishing the cleaning in the kitchen, we moved out to an outer room and cleaned the chairs and tables. The work was made easy with the friendly chatter between the volunteers. Once the cleaning was finished, we dispersed to help other volunteers. I progressed to help the other Vibha Atlanta youth volunteers with cleaning up the lettuce and cauliflower. Ankita Das, the Vice President of Northview’s Vibha Atlanta Youth club, was one of the volunteers helping sort the lettuce. “We separated the lettuce and looked to see if there were any bad ones. We cut off the bad parts and repackaged all the good lettuce,” she explained. “The houses which Meals by Grace helps out usually don’t have transportation to go buy fresh vegetables from the supermarket and stock their pantries. The organization helps them out a lot by providing them with these supplies that they can’t get anywhere else.”

The experience as a whole was eye-opening and satisfying. The Presidents of the Vibha Atlanta Youth club at Northview, Manasa Chimpiri  and Vikash Movva, were very organized and called together the youth volunteers very well. Ankita Das, a junior Both are graduating seniors with a lot on their plates, but they made the time to help out a great non-profit. I had a lot of fun at the event and got to spend a Sunday with my friends while helping people. If you want to learn more or donate to Meals by Grace, click here!

My first meeting with Vibha

By: Sandhya Honnavalli

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There are a lot of “firsts” in life, don’t you agree? Some, we look forward to with much anticipation. Some are just out of the blue and we are caught totally unaware. Then there are some others where we know are coming, but don’t know quite what to expect. Well, one such “first” for me was on Saturday, the 24th of January, a beautiful crisp afternoon, when I drove to Haggard Library in Plano to attend a meeting with Vibha Dallas Volunteer group.

Finding the room was a piece of cake, thanks to the two able youth volunteers at the door, greeting and guiding the incoming crowd to the meeting room. It was great to see a room full of kids, teenagers and adults seated there. Everybody’s weekends are busy and precious these days and for some reason, two-day weekends seem to be never enough! In spite of that, it felt good to see that all these people had taken time out of their Saturday schedule to come attend this meeting. Talk about commitment and dedication towards a great cause, right? At that minute, I somehow knew that things were headed in the right direction.

After the initial welcome, meet and greet and introduction of newcomers, facilitated by youth volunteer Aakash, we delved straight into business. Prathibha, the bubbly, cheerful lead, spoke briefly about Vibha, a non-profit organization that strives to help uplift under privileged kids, both in India and the US. Action Center Co-ordinators, who were present at the meeting, took turns explaining the general functional and operational logistics of Vibha. They also briefly spoke about a few different projects like Vidyarambham, Canned Food Drive etc. It was interesting to learn how the time and efforts of volunteers here, reaches and impacts the underprivileged in India. What stood out as a striking factor was the enthusiasm with which all the ACCs spoke!  It was also inspiring to see some of the youth volunteers talk about how they had served the community through Vibha this past year, which in turn had earned them their service hours.

Next was the talk about Vibha’s upcoming and exciting, very first “big” event of the year, the Kite Flying Festival. Who doesn’t love to fly a kite? March is just the perfect time too, with Spring just setting in. Besides understanding a bit about the Science behind making and flying kites, it seemed like a great crowd-puller, fun-filled, outdoor event for the whole family. It was a way to reach out to the mass and spread awareness about Vibha, while flying a kite and having fun with friends and family in the community! Not just that, face painting, talent show, mehendi  etc were all going to be on the agenda for the day, seemed like! Great ways to get many volunteers involved.

Well, to me, it seemed like  this was just one example of what could happen when a group of like-minded people, willing to dedicate their time, energy and efforts towards a great cause, come together  to make a difference in the lives of underprivileged kids. Let us learn to give some and not take too much all the time.

Vibha-Chicago FMSC event

By: Priya Balachandran

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Vibha-Chicago Action Center conducted an event at Feed My Starving Children (FMSC.org), Aurora location, on 02/13/2014, Friday.  This local volunteering activity was aimed at creating awareness about Vibha in the local community and to attract the attention of both adults and children who are interested in helping the community. A team composed of Vibha volunteers along with service-minded people and Elementary school kids from the local community participated in this event. We got support from a local social network group in advertising our event.

At the FMSC center, volunteers hand packed meals specifically formulated for malnourished children for an hour and half. These meals are shipped all over the world to about 70 countries to help aid children internationally.  This event directly reflected the Vibha’s mission ‘to educate, empower and enable every individual who wishes to make a positive difference in the life of the underprivileged child’. It offered parents an opportunity to inspire their kids for volunteering, and elementary-school kids took the opportunity to begin volunteering with Vibha and giving back to their community. It also gave the volunteers a chance to get a taste of field work experience. This event also emphasized Vibha as more than just a fund-raising organization; it incorporated community and service which are two core values for the Vibha organization as a whole.

The children who went to the Aurora location of FMSC were enthusiastic in participating. They experienced the feeling of happiness everyone can get from helping make a difference in someone else’s life. Volunteering is beneficial for both parties. Those in need receive aid, and the volunteers gain a sense of values and can delight in the fruits of the work they put in. These small act of kindness have a ripple effect and help teach an entirely new generation of children the beauty and joy of volunteering. The children who attended the event learnt that it is exciting be a part of team working for a cause. Apart from great experiencing of packing and positive environment, it was fun to see how little hands pack food for the less fortunate ones.

Vibha volunteering participation certificates were distributed to all those who attended the event to recognize and encourage their involvement. Vibha Chicago Action Center believes in ‘acting locally and impacting globally’.  Like us on Facebook!

A Visit to Jan Madhyam

As a social entrepreneurship organization, Vibha sponsors a number of Non-Governmental Organizations(NGOs) in India which focus on improving the quality of life of children, especially those in challenging circumstances. Jan Madhyam in New Delhi is one such NGO.  Jan Madhyam’s mission is to reach out to “the disabled children from marginalized sections of society aiding the most disadvantaged in terms of rights and opportunities.” Jan Madhyam also focuses on working with women and girls in India as their missions is rooted in equal opportunity.  Vibha’s funding supports Jan Madhyam in enrolling students to be educated and develop key life skills. Ikroop Kaur, a Vibha volunteer, from Vibha Seattle Action Center, recently visited a Janmadhyam facility. She has written about the experience below.

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“Janmadhyam works with under-privileged children with physical & mental disabilities. On the cold winter day that I visited Janmadhyam, their facility was a welcome oasis in the somewhat gritty neighborhood it is situated in. I walked in to see the children attending “music class”. The girl you see at the drums below is hearing impaired but that didn’t stop her from missing a single beat on this rendition! Their teacher is a graduate of this institute and now comes back to teach the students.

sec_pic_JMTwo teachers gave me a tour of the self-sufficient unit complete with a kitchen garden, kitchen run by the students, classrooms, physiotherapy room. I got to sample some of the food that the kitchen was putting out it was amazing! The students cook food for a nearby office during the week this is another source of revenue for the facility. The students not only studied here but also learnt some skills like making spices, handicrafts, sewing & pottery some of which supported the costs of running this facility. This trip was the most fulfilling one I’ve made in a while it really put things in perspective. On how some people, with so little, and with such great challenges, persevere   with a smile and a can-do attitude. It makes me thankful for what I have and makes me want to do more to support these children.”

By: Ikroop Kaur

Reaching a New Height: Target One Million

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Ever since the organization was started in 1991, Vibha has challenged itself on several occasions “to do more” for the benefit of the underprivileged children. “Target One Million” is one such challenge that the entire organization rallied behind and achieved the goal with enthusiasm, excitement and a sense of purpose. This will enable to increase the support to more grassroots organizations and scale up successful models, so that a difference can be made in the lives of 60,000 children.

Vibha has been raising $700,000 to $800,000 in the past few years annually for the past several years, through all the fundraisers organized by dedicated volunteers and the generous support of its patrons across all the action-centers. So, the idea started among some of the volunteers to raise the bar and set a higher and more exciting target and motivate the entire organization towards that goal. The idea quickly turned into an action plan that a core team of volunteers executed and prepared the base for launching the campaign. The year-end campaign was kicked-off in late October, on the eve of Diwali, the festival of lights, to bring Vibha (“Brightness”) into the lives of thousands of children.

Highlighting the “Success Stories” of the children from each of the projects that Vibha is currently supporting was the main theme of the campaign . The volunteers and the donors  were appraised of the difference that their contributions are making in India at individual level and as a community. Four new projects added in 2014, in the fields of public education and education of the children of construction workers, were also presented as a proof of how additional resources will be put to use to bring about bigger change.

The volunteers spread this message among their networks through facebook and other channels. Some high-end donors came forward with matching donation challenges that spurred more excitement. While the momentum kept building all of November, “Giving Tuesday” (Dec 2) turned the campaign into a celebration of “giving”. In the final days of the campaign, a huge number of volunteers and their networks of family and friends were focused on the goal to be reached by Dec 31.  In the end, all the three goals of the campaign  – to reach a million dollars (exceeded at $1,008,250) to be able to support 60,000 children, to rally the entire organization for a common goal, and fundraising-with-pride (of making a difference) – were achieved.

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