I have served several different non-profit organizations during my 56 years in the United States. I have been asked this question on several occasions: what is my motivation for these activities? My humble response is, I am paying back my debt to the society that has helped me to be the person I am today. From my childhood, people and organizations in India and the USA have helped me meet my needs and contributed greatly to my personal development.
My mother’s compassion of giving to the underserved despite our family’s poor finances had a great impression from my childhood. My teachers growing up also inspired me to excel and go for a college education. Without the free boarding and schooling at Songadh Ashram, founded by a Jain Monk, I would not have completed high school. Observing this monk feeding and supplying free medicines to underserved people and giving educational shelters to the students like me set my life goal of serving others selflessly. My college education was supported with scholarships, loans and government tuition free ship.
Let me share the Minnesota Asian Indian Community’s journey to cope with the Coronavirus epidemic which has shaken the world with its direct and indirect impacts. In order to alleviate some of the difficulties in the lives of Minnesotans, the India Association of Minnesota (IAM) launched the IAM Covid 19 Emergency Relief Fund (CERF) in partnership with many Indian community partners and organizations in Minnesota. The IAM Steering Committee had set an ambitious goal of collecting $100,000, which we have exceeded. Thanks to compassion and generosity of our members, community partners and organizations.
The Covid-19 crisis is not over yet – each day brings increasing demand for food and PPE supplies. We are very much concerned about the anticipated second wave of Coronavirus. To help more, the IAM Team has taken up the challenge to raise the Emergency Relief Fund to $150,000, and we are hoping to reach the goal by mid-August. At present, we have donated $50,000 for food distribution, $35,000 for PPE supply distribution and $10,000 for the emergency needs. Food distribution includes meals cooked by the volunteers, food baskets, Indian restaurant- supplied meals and cash distributions to food banks in Minnesota (equivalent 15,000 meals).
The Indian American community has contributed immensely to the Minnesota economy, culture, science and technology, and medical fields in the last 70 years. In turn, Minnesota has supported our many cultural and social organizations with grants to preserve and share our cultural heritage. This is the time we have to demonstrate our philanthropy contributions for this humanitarian cause. We will be very successful in this campaign, if we all unite as a community to channel our resources and volunteering activities for Minnesotans. We have full trust that you will take up this challenge and come forward with your love and compassion, as you have done in the past. By contributing to this fund, community members can come together for a joint show of #ForceForGood to combat suffering and help people in our area at this time of great need.
To learn more about IAM, please check out their website here: www.iamn.org
Ram Gada has been connected with Asian Indian community organizations in Minnesota since the 1970s. He is the founder and president of Gujarati Samaj of Minnesota (1976) and Jain Center of Minnesota (1979). He is a very active supporter and participant at different levels of IAM, School of India for Languages and Culture (SILC), Hindu Society of Minnesota, Minnesota Asian Indian Democratic Association, and several art / culture organizations. Ram was elected as Honorary and Emeritus Council member at Minnesota Historical Society after serving for 9 years on the Executive Council. He is the recipient of 2014 Asia Pacific Council Life Achievement Award and 2019 JAINA Ratna Award. He also narrated the life story with his wife Neena in the book “THE $8 MAN” by Brenda H. Christensen in 2017. Ram is the retired president of Gada & Associates, Consulting Engineers (1980-2010). He also served as the President of ASHRAE-Minnesota Chapter in 1982.