Last April, Hindu Charities for America’s Bollywood Meets Borscht Belt raised $26,000 for school supplies for homeless students in the Austin area during an afternoon of dance, music, food and fun. It was especially touching to hear the grateful words of a homeless single mother with lupus, thanking those involved in helping her eight-grade daughter receive school supplies. She was one of the more than 1,400 economically disadvantaged families benefiting from the funds raised.
“Though I work with many charities, [Hindu Charities for America] stands out in making a difference,” Dr. Royce Avery, Superintendent of Manor ISD and keynote speaker, noted. “The work they do is very important.”
Jan Cohen, a first-time attendee, was enthusiastic about the multicultural nature of the event and being able to “introduce my kids to new foods and new dances.”
The organization works year-round to raise funds to provide not only school supplies to homeless students but also vocational education scholarships to students in need. This year, additional to the funds raised for school supplies, Hindu Charities for America awarded $78,000 in scholarships to more than 130 students.
The organization’s work to help economically disadvantaged students since 2010 received special recognition last May. Founder and President Harish Kotecha was honored for this outstanding charitable work, receiving awards from both the Greater Austin Asian Chamber of Commerce and the White House.
Hindu Charities for America received the Greater Austin Asian Chamber of Commerce’s “Outstanding Community Organization Award” on May 18, at their annual Ovation awards gala. The Ovation gala brings together over 700 businesses, leaders, individuals, organizations, and civic servants in an annual celebration of Asian Pacific American heritage and accomplishments and honors the most outstanding businesses, organizations and individuals in the Austin area. GAACC President and CEO Mariana Bhargava presented the award to Kotecha. Also recognized at the VIP table was Hindu Charities for America’s Vice-president Dinesh Vakharia. A video recounting the achievements and service by the organization was played to the audience. Texas State Senator Kirk Watson sent a letter commending the work of the organization, calling the award “a tribute to the hard work and dedication” by Hindu Charities for America, and recognizing it as “truly an asset to our community.” The award recognizes the efforts of hundreds of volunteers, over 1,000 donors, over 100 business sponsors and others that support Hindu Charities for America in its mission to bridge income disparity through education with the philosophy of “Live Here, Give Here!”
On the same day, Kotecha received the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Corporation for National and Community Service and the Office of the President of the United States. The President’s Lifetime Achievement Award is the highest honor for volunteer service in the country presented to those who contribute more than 4,000 hours of service in their lifetime. The award honored him for his “lifelong commitment to building a stronger nation through volunteer service.”
Hindu Charities for America recently expanded into California, receiving its certificate of qualification from the California Secretary of State on May 7. The charity plans to work with the Los Angeles Community College District to provide 15 scholarships to select economically disadvantaged students.