Atlanta, GA (December 4, 2022): Sewa International’s Atlanta Chapter hosted its annual gala event on December 3 at Hotel 12 in Midtown Atlanta. The event organizers said they exceeded the target set for the evening by raising $351,000 in donations, and that it indicated the strong faith that the community was placing in Sewa International.
The event started with “Jyothi prajwalan” (lighting the lamp) by Sam Patel, CEO of Global Hotel Group, Sid Mookerjee Founder and Managing Partner at Silicon Road, and Srikanth Gundavarapu, President of Sewa’s Atlanta Chapter.
Swati Kari, Jyothi Gundavarapu, Sravani Kari, and Anika Kopakka rendered a melodious invitational prayer enthralling the audience. In his welcome note, Sam Patel acknowledged the great contributions of the Sewa team but also challenged the chapter leadership to think even bigger in terms of the societal impact Sewa can have.
Vivek Srivastav, Sewa Atlanta Chapter Coordinator gave a comprehensive update of the 2022 projects executed, including work by the Family Services team, Sewa Senior Club, community blood drives, sports events, and other initiatives. He said that over 250 students were involved with tutoring at Section-8 Housing covering six apartment complexes with a focus on Hispanic communities. This effort was administered under a grant from AmeriCorps. Satish Damle, Program Director for Sewa International, and Atlanta’s Program Director for Americorps provided additional details about the program.
Disaster recovery coordinator, Madhavi Gunasekaran, gave an update on Sewa’s rescue efforts in Ukraine, and the support that Sewa volunteers have provided to the transgender community, and to the Native American community. Olexandra Kostenk, representing the Ukrainian community, Anjali Rimi of California representing the transgender community, and Rachel Blythe representing the Native American community shared their experiences. Their personal stories and the difference Sewa’s efforts make in their respective communities brought tears and goosebumps to the audience, and illustrated the Sewa spirit of “Vasudhaika Kutumbakam” (the world is one family).
Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi from the 8th District of Illinois, and Forsyth County Commissioner Alfred John joined the celebration. Both stressed the importance of the Indian American community taking an active part in the political process and reiterated that running for political office and holding one is a great way to amplify the impact one can make on the community. Sid Mookerji, a well-known investor, philanthropist, and venture capitalist delivered a highly inspiring keynote address expressing his continued support to Sewa International.
Several prominent community members were recognized for their outstanding services:
- The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Raj Razdan, a resident of Atlanta for over four decades, who have made lasting contributions to the Atlanta community and academia.
- Sewa Karma Yogi Award for outstanding service was presented to Natali Barot, CEO of Meals for Kids
- Sewa Abhigyaan Award for community impact was presented to Alfred John, Chairman Forsyth County Commissioner, and Bhushan Mocherla, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist
- Sewa Entrepreneur Award was presented to Krishnan Balasubramanian, Principal and Managing Director of Cloud Engineering at Deloitte
- Sewa Samskritik award was given to Kumud Sawla.
Srikanth Gundavarapu, President of Sewa’s Atlanta Chapter spoke of how the rapid growth of Sewa Atlanta is necessitating onboarding more volunteers. He introduced the newly appointed Vice Presidents of the Atlanta chapter – Madhav Durbha and Raj Radhakrishnan. He also introduced the newly appointed joint coordinators – Dinesh Katoch, Rakesh Raheja, and Prakash Srivastava. He appreciated the contributions of many volunteers by calling them onto the stage. The founder of Sewa International USA, Srikanth Konda, who recently relocated back to Atlanta, shared his excitement over how much Sewa has grown over the years. Kavya Arora and Shyla Katoch chanted the Shanti Mantra and Bhojana Mantra, Hindu prayers wishing peace for all and thanking God for providing food for us all, before dinner.
Emcees for the event, Madhav Durbha and Shalini Jaitly kept the proceedings running smoothly and kept the audience engaged. They conducted the audience interactive quiz “Who is the smartest person in the room?” that included all the attendees and 10-year-old Shambhavi Katoch claimed the title.
Shyam Gupta and the team provided the lighting and audio-visual support setting up the perfect ambiance for the evening. Kiran Mudigonda provided the photography support. Sareena Nagpal, Varnika Argampally, and Sonali Phopale of Naach Dance Academy entertained the audience with a medley performance. Singers Anupama Krishnan, Raka Das, and Shyam Gupta entertained the audience with several Bollywood classics.
The Sewa team expressed their gratitude to the donors and supporters as well as to the Hotel 12 management.