By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – Some Indian residents of Shrewsbury accepted the challenge of planning fundraisers when they learned about an opportunity to name a room in the town’s remodeled public library in exchange for a donation of at least $10,000.
Among the team of fundraisers was Arumugham Raghunathan.
“There was the sense of community by wanting to set a goal together,” he said. “And it gave us a good sense of accomplishment that we achieved it.”
Also on the team was Vinay Vyas.
“Education is very important from the Indian standpoint and the library plays a big role,” he said. “For many of us, libraries were a scarce resource where we grew up in India.”
Their first fundraiser was an India Summer Festival last July at SAC Park. The festival celebrated Indian food, games and culture. Members of the Indian Youth Group (IYG) organized children’s games and taught Bollywood dance lessons to guests of all ages.
Lending a hand that day were about 25 volunteers including 10-year-old Soumya Warty. She collected donations for the festival’s leftover bread, noted Raghunathan.
“She took the bread around her neighborhood, from door to door,” he explained. “She got $163.”
Despite intermittent downpours, the festival was well-attended and raised a few thousand dollars. Volunteers and guests good-naturedly scampered for shelter under the park’s pavilion, Vyas noted.
“For us as Indian people, we were actually laughing,” he shared. “Pouring rain like we had on that day is a very common phenomenon in India.”
Also last year, IYG donated about $700, half of which was raised at a bake sale during one of their annual fundraisers.
Last November, a restaurant fundraiser was presented in Westborough. Eateries donated a percentage of the revenue from patrons’ purchases. Participating businesses included Bertucci’s, Biryani Pointe, Bollywood Grill and Uno Chicago Grill.
A monetary donation was contributed by AcceptU, a business that provides virtual admissions counseling. Its vice president of marketing is Sushilaa Pathalam, one of the fundraising team’s main organizers.
Another fundraiser was the sale of handmade holiday cards, created by artist Priya Vaidya. Volunteers displayed and sold the cards at the Spirit of Shrewsbury Town Expo, and outside of Shrewsbury Federal Credit Union and Stop & Shop.
“We were stuck at about $8,000 for a while,” Raghunathan said. “Then we raised the remaining money from selling her cards with her company’s matching contribution.”
Vaidya works at Intel Corporation. The sale of cards with the matching contribution raised over $1,500.
Other team fundraisers were Arathi Cowlagi, Neena Mohanka, Sushilaa Pathalam, Lakshmi Setty, Priya Vaidhya, Margret Walter and children, and Samyukta Warty and daughter Soumya. Other main sponsors were Rajiv and Preeti Dayal, Radhi Navani, Patel Brothers, Sanjay and Neela Shah, Wegmans, and individuals from the local Indian community.
Library Director Ellen Dolan expressed gratitude for this community’s unique contribution.
“This is the first group that has actually formed themselves just to raise funds for this effort,” she said.
Individuals, businesses and already-existing organizations have donated $10,000 or more, and selected a room or area to name. The Indian community is in the process of choosing the name for a room, in which a plaque will appear, Dolan noted.
“They’ve worked on the language for the plaque, which has some reference to their gratitude to having a library that serves the Indian community and all of the rest of Shrewsbury,” she explained. “They have such a commitment to education and learning, so they have been very strong library users.”
Anyone interested in a naming opportunity can contact Dolan at 508-841-8537 or [email protected].
For information about the Shrewsbury Public Library Capital Campaign, visit campaign4shrewsburylibrary.net.