What do a congressman and his wife, a civil engineering and surveying and inspections firm, a UPS store, a winery and a local restaurant all have in common?
They are all working hard to raise funds for those less fortunate in the slums of India through an organization called Asha, which means “hope” in Hindi.
Headed by Kailash (KC) Chaudhary and his son Arvin Chaudhary of Chaudhary and Associates, Inc., Napa, this team of dedicated local business owners have organized the 16th Annual Asha Napa Valley fundraiser for Asha, India, to be held at Jamieson Ranch Winery on Aug. 27.
The group was originally formed at the request of Jan Thompson and her husband, Rep. Mike Thompson, upon their return from a visit to India.
During this visit, Jan, a registered nurse, had seen the difference that the Asha organization was making in the slums of Delhi.
Founded by Dr. Kiran Martin in 1986, the Asha Foundation began as an effort to give children of the Delhi slums the critical immunization that they were lacking and that could save their lives. Dr. Martin went on to expand Asha efforts to clean up the slums, secure safe water supplies, empower women to serve as community health workers, and encourage families to keep children in school.
The Thompsons called on their friends KC and Gisela Chaudhary to bring together people from the greater Bay Area to support Dr. Martin’s efforts. And so, a fundraising tradition of 16 years began.
The Asha Napa Valley fundraising event has been hosted in five-year increments by Freemark Abbey Winery, Alpha Omega Winery and Hall Wines, St. Helena.
“The generosity of these wineries has been key to the success of our fundraising efforts,” Chaudhary said. “We are extremely appreciative of their dedication to Asha. ”
When the Asha Napa Valley fundraising committee held its first board meeting of the year at the offices of Chaudhary and Associates, a recent addition to the board, Arvind Nischal, owner of Eagle Vines Realty and the UPS Store in American Canyon, jumped into action. He spoke with Bioll Legion at Jamieson Winery, and Legion and his staff committed to hosting the 2016 event.
With the venue in place, the committee turned to Jeet Bhangoo, owner of Indian restaurants Aroma, in Napa and Benicia, to ask if he would donate the dinner to be served at the event.
His response was, “Of course!”
Bhangoo and his wife, Joti, agreed to donate the entire dinner for a second year to support the efforts of Asha and Dr. Martin.
Arvin Chaudhary, owner of The AnT Ranch, and also president and CEO of Chaudhary and Associates, volunteered to donate a lamb from his ranch for the event.
Arvind Nischal, who is also the head of the organization Helping Hands Indo-American, donated the printing of the invitations and has been instrumental in coordinating the local efforts.
“I know the impact that organizations like Asha have in the lives of the poor Indian families,” he said. Helping Hands Indo-American started as a project to provide shoes for Indian schoolchildren and has turned into support for those children in the form of books and computers.
Nischal was recently honored at the American Canyon Chamber of Commerce banquet for organizing and hosting events to help children around the world.
The committee has had its challenges this year. They have a zero operating budget and rely on the generosity of the businesses and individuals to keep the hope alive. Local business owners and people have donated items for the live and silent auctions held with each of the fundraising events.
Chaudhary and Associates, Rohit Patel and his wife, Mridhula, and KC and Gisela Chaudhary have been generous in donating funds to underwrite some of the expenses that the ASHA committee wasn’t able to find donors to cover. This generosity allows for 100 percent of the donations to go directly to help the people in the slums. More than $600,000 has been sent raised over the past 15 years.
This year’s event will feature a special guest: One of the children who has grown up in the Asha slum and is now a college graduate will share his journey and what the future holds for him and his family.
He will also be addressing group at various local schools. As a result of the fundraising efforts from all over the world, Asha has been able to support students from the slums to attend college; 750 of those students have now graduated and are gainfully employed.
At the event, there will be an update on healthcare and the living conditions in the slums.
For more information about the Asha Evening at Jamieson Ranch Winery, call Susan Needleman at 707-255-2729. More information about Asha can be found on the website at www.Asha-India.org.