Vasantham - Spring of Joy and Hope for the colleges for visually challenged

VT Seva, NJ Parsipanny team organized its 2nd annual fundraising cultural event VASANTHAM 2013’, a fun filled evening with dance, music and food on Saturday, June 15th 2013 at Madison High School, Madison, New Jersey. The event was emceed by youngsters Shreya, Sujay, Himanshu and Shubha. They raised awareness about service activities of VT Seva in local communities, outreach projects and encouraged youth to become a volunteer. The event was a great example of youth volunteerism, with more than 200 young performers volunteering their time and talent (dance and music) for a wonderful cause.

Vasantham lived to its name - Spring of Joy and Hope. It started with a goal of educating 66 visually challenged students of Netra Degree College. It ended with an accomplishment of funds enough to support the education of 108 students - 66 students (All the students of Degree College) and 42 students (Out of the 61 of Intermediate College).

The program began with a Peace prayer by PRAJNA students and followed by US National Anthem. Acclaimed group of dance academies Kalashri School of Arts, Shubanjali School of Performing Arts and Kuchipudi Art Academy gave scintillating performances. Ms. Keertana Annamaneni sang a very inspirational song "Mounam gaane edagamani mokka neeku chebuthondi" while pictures of the accomplishments of visually challenged were displayed on projector next to the dais. Kolaatam – Andhra folk dance was performed with perfect coordination for ‘Govinda Naamalu’ by Baldwin manor and Mazdabrook Commons ladies. TAALSADHANA - School of Indian Classical Music gave a wonderful and soothing musical performance. The program was unbelievable and appreciated by everybody...kept everybody on the edge of their seats till the end.

In words of Anjani Katikaneni thanking all the supporters and volunteers, "I want to share a few words of why I got motivated to work for this cause. During my brief stay in India last year, I had the pleasure of working with two great youngsters - Ramesh and Naresh who are visually challenged. During our period of work of one month Ramesh informed me about his decision to pursue a career in banking. He cleared the bank exam and secured a position at a bank. He dedicated his success story to Netra College for the blind. That was my first close interaction with Netra College students. Ramesh told me how he did not even know the basics of spoken English when he joined the college. Despite being blind Ramesh was able to pursue a career of his choice all because of this college. All the students come from low income families and with permanent visual impairment. Yet they are like normal children in their hopes and aspirations, at peace with their disability (different ability) and excelling in whatever they are exposed to. Their zeal and determination in overcoming their visual challenge is clearly evident in them. Netra Vidyalaya has both degree and intermediate colleges. The current enrollment is 61 Intermediate students and 66 Degree students in the college. It is the only college in India which is instrumental in having the students, write exams independently without the help of scribes. Netra college students are delivering promising results with distinction. This year in B.COM final year – 95% of them scored above 80% and one student scored 92%. Many of our students got employed at various banks, Railways, and with other employers. Rajkumar got a job in State Bank of Hyderabad, Ramesh (my friend) got a job in Central Bank of India. Salma, a second year degree student got a job as a government teacher. Koteshwar rao got a job in Road Transport authority, Khammam. Lathasri a final year degree student with 87% is aspiring to become an I.A.S officer. We are all blessed to enjoy this colorful world….but they are not. They are trying very hard to overcome their disability and their financial disadvantage to compete with the rest of the world. We ask you to encourage them by lending them your helping hand and helping them SEE a new world by realizing their aspirations."

VT Seva President Dr. Purnachander Sirikonda shared about the recent accomplishments of VT Seva such as its support to JIMS Hospital, "Care on Wheels" project supported by Chase Community Grant of $100,000 for educating underprivileged tribal students in Adilabad district and Multi Organ Donation Awareness Walkathon engaging 50,000 people. . He encouraged one and all to take part in VT Seva activities and appreciated the teamwork and dedication of Mazdabrook community and other telugu communities in parsippany. He extended his support to Vasantham event by pledging support to educate 21 visually challenged students. Ms. Padma Vudata, VT Seva treasurer shared the financials of VT Seva and mentioned that the administrative expenses are kept very low, and that too most of them are taken care by core team of VT Seva board members. Vice President Mr. Ravinder Thota who supports the education of more than 120 students a year encouraged the attendees to contribute 'Dollar a Day' towards the noble cause. Mr. Krishna Kanth, VT Seva Secretary shared summary of VT Seva activities in US and invited one and all to visit the outreach projects in India to have a firsthand experience of how their support is making a positive difference. All the board members expressed gratitude to HH Sri Chinna Jeeyar Swamiji, for the inspiration and bestowing them with opportunity to be a part of social service activities through VT Seva. They appreciated the grass root team of volunteers, teachers and organizers at the outreach projects in India. Mr. Sarma Allaki, VT Seva Advisory Board Member, Mr. Sagar, Mr. Govindaraju Thota presented mementos to the dance teachers and generous sponsors of this event.

HH Sri Chinna Jeear Swamiji sent message after learning about the event - "All this happened because of the concern our volunteers have and the respect showed to the audience and performers. We are sure that this tradition continues always in all the activities and events to come."

The pictures and videos presented moved the people and gave more insight about the VT Seva activities and how they are benefitting the underprivileged with their support and contributions. The video snippet of one of our students, Parmeshwar Rao from Nethra Vidyalaya, on ‘Paadutha theeyaga’ program (one of the vocal music competitions on a popular Telugu channel) made every attendee give standing ovation.

Vote of Thanks

VT Seva Parsipanny - Ms. Kavita and Satyapal Pareddy, Ms. Padmajaand Guru Uppalapati, Ms. Sanjana Gaddam, Ms. Shailaja Vodapalli, Ms. Krupali Bandi, Ms. Krishna Naidu, Mr. Satya and Sujani Chitneedi, Mr. Srinivas and Shashipriya Madireddy, Ms. Sandhya and Venkatesh Naini, Ms. Lata and Prakash Yalamanchili, Ms. Sunita Kapuganti, Ms. Aruna and Sridath Busarajan, Ms. Rama and Jai Putrevu, Ms. Shreenidhi, Mr. Sridhar Vajinapalli, Ms. Manjula and Prasad Jonnalagadda, Ms Madavi and Ramsateesh Katta, Mr. Madhu Vodapalli, Mr. Jayaram Chigurupati, Mr. Ravichandra, Mr. Ramanuja Sanduga, Ms. Jyothi and Vijay Alla, Ms. Aruna Makkena, Mr, Bhaskhar Nayini, Mr. Bhaskar Ravva, Ms Padma Nandigama, Mr. Venkat Chivukula. Mr. Shashi Mullapudi, Mr. Raj Mahajan, Dr. Raval and Ms. Sravanthi Kantipudi. Thank you is a small word!

Special thanks to Lalita Mullapudi and her Baldwin manor team for raising awareness and collecting donations in the area by going to different apartment complexes and indian stores on a daily basis to educate everyone about Netravidyalaya and the event. Shailaja Chapyala for sponsoring delicious mango lassi for the event.

VT Seva NJ Team - Mr. Murali Duggirala, Mr. Krishna Bhavaraju, Mr. Srinivas, Bhagawat Swami, Pavan Swami, Ms. Aparna, Ms. Shailaja, Ms. Pallavi, Ms. Rajani, Ms, Sunitha Pinninti, Ms. Sandhya, Ms. Jamuna for active support.

Photography – Vikram Nalamada(volunteered his services for free), Sound System - Mr. Nanda

Dance Teachers - Ms. Subha Parmar, Ms. Bina Menon and Ms. Swathi Gundapaneni
Music - Mr. Anil Khare, Ms. Deepal Chodari, Singing - Ms. Keertana Annamaneni

City - Madison board of education, Ms. Cheryl Bernstein, Marylou Yoccom, Madison police department, Fire department and other city officials for their co-operation to this event.

Testimonials from Dance Schools -

"I am so glad everything went very well and our kids thoroughly enjoyed the program and were very happy to be part of this noble cause. Keep up the great mission. You will always have our support."
-Ms. Suba Parmar , Shubanjali School of Performing Arts

"I want to thank the organization for giving us an opportunity to perform at your event. I have to congratulate all of you for organizing such a beautiful event."
- Ms. Swathi, Gundapuneedi Kuchipudi Art Academy

"Thank you for having us yesterday at the fund raiser, we immensely enjoyed the whole event. It was well organized and we are happy to be part of this noble cause"
- Mr. Anil Khare, TAALSADHANA - School of Indian Classical Music

"We participated with over 80 classical dancers in VT Seva fundraising event and it raised 50k in few hours benefitting Colleges for Blind in Andhra Pradesh. We felt like a divine power guiding us through the event."
- Ms. Bina Menon, Kalashri School of Arts

"Lastly .. just want to mention one observation .. I felt the organizers were very nice. I have been to so many programs. No one ever kept water bottles in the makeup room for the participants. Though it is a small thing .. it is such a good gesture. They were very courteous throughout. Felt good being part of the program. Please thank them when you talk to them next time."
- One of the parents of a performer

For photos from the event, please Click here

Woodbridge Fire Victims: VT Seva Contributes $12,000

VT Seva New Jersey, in the presence of Sri Ahobila Ramanuja Jeeyar Swamiji, had a fruitful meeting on August 5th from 1:30 PM to 2:30 PM with the victims of the fire that occurred in the Woodbridge Village apartment complex in Woodbridge, N.J. We are happy to announce that VT Seva, along with Sri Sri Ahobila Ramanuja Jeeyar Swamiji, were well received by the victims and the interaction with them was very successful

The meeting began with a peace prayer. Then Dr. Purnachander Sirikonda ntroduced VT Seva to the victims, and described the various activities that the organization is involved in. He gave a detailed description of the various schools that VT Seva supports in Allampalli, Beersaipeta, Katarivaripalem, Vizianagaram and Hyderabad. He also gave a glowing endorsement of the organization's activities by highlighting the fact that the students from the schools were able to compete in national-level competitions and win medals for their achievements.

Then Sri Ahobila Ramanuja Jeeyar Swamiji spoke words of encouragement and hope. He expressed empathy and sorrow for the loss of the victims, yet he also noted that a greater catastrophe was averted because there was no loss of life. Ultimately, he said, material possessions can be recovered, but life cannot be. He expressed that he genuinely felt the victims would come back from this disaster stronger than before, and rebound into a prosperous life within short time. He advised them not to become pessimistic, and conveyed his belief that he had full faith in their strength and courage. Nothing could convey the ethos of VT Seva better than Swamiji’s own encouragement of the victims.

Then Sarma Allakki, VT Seva advisor, spoke a few words about VT Seva's assistance to the victims' cause. He made it clear that whatever VT Seva was doing, it was doing with a sense of service. He hoped that the organization's support would help the victims with a smooth transition into their new lives.

After a few more dignitaries shared their thoughts and condolence with the victims, the names of the victims' families were called out one-by-one and $300.00 were given to each. The victims were grateful for the contribution made by VT Seva. They received it with dignity, and appreciate the support very much. Several of the victims also were given a chance to convey their feelings about the disaster and the aftermath, and many did take the opportunity to do so. It was heartening to see that they had not lost hope and were recovering each in their own way by taking steps in the direction of normalcy and recovery.

Hari Eppanapalli, former President of VT Seva, concluded with the message that VT Seva is ready and willing to assist the victims in their negotiations with the Community's Management about the next phase of their lives, specifically the issues of their destroyed residences and possessions. The meeting ended on that positive note, with the hope that VT Seva will be able to effect a positive outcome for the victims in their transition.

Jan 2012 Activity

On Jan 1, 2012 - New Year day, our volunteers opened a booth at 222 Dey Road, Cranbury, NJ 08512 and brought the public awareness on VT Seva activities. Our volunteers actively distributed VT Seva flyers & explained VT Seva activities to the public. Several people showed interest in our activities and signed up for Dollar a day Program & other activities.

On Jan 14, 2012, VT Seva organized a Bone Marrow program at the same premises. Our volunteer took over the public attention with Bone Marrow Information &  presentations. Several people showed interest, came forward and signed up for Bone Marrow.
Food Drive

As the year 2011 ending with lots of holidays, VT Seva NJ team geared up the food drive against hunger in New Jersey. Mercer Street Friends Food Bank is chosen for the donation. It is one of the main food distributors in New Jersey. It can distribute the food to local soup kitchens and others in need. This time we concentrated more on selective nutritious food and collected about 550 pounds. On Dec 24th, 2011 around 10AM, several VT volunteers including kids & youngsters and VT Seva executive board members had joined and enjoyed the activity. We loaded the food to the vehicles and dropped off at Mercer Street Friends Food Bank, 828 Silvia Street, Ewing , NJ 08628.
Hurricane Irene in NJ: Disaster Recovery

Our volunteers joined American Red Cross Disaster Recovery team, 707 Alexander Road Princeton, NJ - to help hurricane flood victims on Sep 18, 2011. Our team got the exclusive work of cleaning the food/medical/utilities transportation trucks and make them ready for next items for transportation and drop off. Many young and elder volunteers participated in the activity. Surprisingly in such short notice, several volunteers attended to help victims from natural calamity. American Red Cross team was very happy on our attendance in such short notice.
Tsunami fund raise 

In the month of April, 2011, the volunteers actively involved in fund raising activity for Tsunami disaster recovery. Several places the fund collection drop off boxes were placed. A significant amount is raised and contributed for recovery. Many people generously contributed to the fund.
VT Seva at ZEE TV-India Fair

On Apr 23, 2011, VT Seva-NJ hosted a booth in ZEE TV sponsored India Fair. Along with elder volunteers, several young too actively participated in the event. They showed great initiative & drive - going around, educating public about VT Seva activities. The volunteers visited other social / community organization and shared the ideas. Several organizations showed lots of interest in VT Seva activities. we mainly focused on Bone Marrow and Tsunami fund raise in this event. Several people from public have visited the booth, signed up for Bone Marrow and generously contributed to Tsunami fund. VT Seva volunteers continued Tsunami fund raise activity to the end of Apr 2011.
Stream Cleanup 2011 

Our volunteers joined the 5th Annual Stream Cleanup 2011 organized by Tony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association, as part of the environmental protection at Village Park parking lot, 38 Maplewood Ave, Cranbury, NJ 08512. About 20 of our volunteers participated to the event on Sat April 9th, 2011 at 9:00AM. Boots, garbage collection bags, long sleeves, work gloves & water bottles were provided to the volunteers. With lots of joy, our volunteers had went around the places and collected the garbage. Volunteers took lots of interest to go into the deep bushes and pulled out tons of garbage including plastic bottles, plastic bags, and soda cans. After finishing here, our volunteers went to the Cranbury town streets and collected the garbage too.
 Feb 2011 VT Seva Booth & Bone Marrow 

VT Seva volunteers had actively helped & participated in fund raising event for Jeeyar Asramam, on 2/12/2011 at North Brunswick High School, 98 Raider Rd, Rt 130, North Brunswick, NJ 08902. The volunteers coordinated various activities in this initiative. They had coordinated & serviced the food for 500 people. They took initiative in setting up the booths. Various VT Seva activities were presented on video in VT Seva booth. The volunteers actively educated the public about VT Seva activities. In the same month Bone Marrow activity was conducted at Jeeyar Asramam. Several people enquired about the activity and sign up for Bone Marrow.
 Canned Food Drive 

Holidays bring cheer and joy; Holidays remind us of hunger in our communities. Food shortage is at epidemic proportions in our country due to the toughest financial times. Under the guidance of our CEO, HH Sri Chinna Jeeyar Swamiji, VT Seva & JET USA have joined forces to fight hunger by conducting Holiday Food drive; to help support our local community food banks. VT Seva NJ Branch donated over 600 lbs of food items and hygiene products to the - Skeet’s Pantry - First Presbyterian Church, Cranbury, NJ 08512- Upon the food pantry organizer's request VT Seva NJ collected and donated the following items: canned/boxed soup, canned vegetables, fruits and fruit juices, breakfast cereals, rice, pasta laundry detergent, tooth paste, and hand soap.
Dollar A Day Program 

Our NJ chapter adapted Dollar A Day program. A nice letter with web links to School for Blind, Jr. College for Blind, Tribal Education Events, School for Tribal in Allampalli, School for Tribal in Birsapeta & School for Fishermen pages was created. The email was distributed to 1100 people. Our motivation is call the interested people on phone every other day and educate them on our schools and activities. We got very good response from the public. This is an on going project for ever.
 Go Green! Project 

VT Seva New Jersey young volunteers undertook the project of making the "Viswasanthi Sri Yagam" a green event. The Viswasanthi Sri Yagam is a unique mass prayer for world peace and prosperity that was organized by JETUSA, a non profit organization under the guidance of His Holiness Sri Chinna Jeeyar Swamiji. Approximately 8,000 people attended this 10 day event. In order to make the event environmentally friendly, VT Seva successfully replaced all the plastic and foam food serving products with eco-friendly material and paper products, helping to keep the environment clean. A VT Seva booth was also set up to bring awareness to the public about VT Seva activities around the world.  
 Bone Marrow Awareness Drive 

VT Seva NJ conducted a bone marrow drive at the Telugu Fine Arts Society cultural event on Apr 24, 2010 held at Hammarskjold Middle School, East Brunswick, NJ 08816. Both young and adult volunteers actively worked with the crowd to explain the real need for bone marrow donors. Many young couples volunteered to become donors and save lives.
Leukemia and other fatal blood disorders can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere, it is an equal opportunity disease. Scientists do not fully know what causes leukemia, but it usually proves fatal unless a matching donor is found in time. The odds of finding a match are between 1 in 20,000 to 1 in 100,000. Having a large number of donors, particularly from the same race, increases the chances of a patient finding a positive match for a life-saving blood stem cell/bone marrow transplant.

 Earth Day celebration in April 

We celebrated Earth Day over multiple weekends at the Jeeyar Asramam at 222 Dey Road, Cranbury, NJ 08512.

 - Wood collection: Collected all fallen tree branches and moved to a common place. These will used for Sriyagam.
 - Planting: Planted various flower & vegetable plants. And trimmed the plants.
 - Cleaned up the Asramam premises.

Volunteers from both JET & VT Seva participated in the event. Young volunteers from JET Pragna & VT Seva showed a lot interest in the activities.

 AP Flood Relief 

In DIWALI MELA 2009 at Ukrainian Cultural Center, 135 Davidson Ave.,
Somerset, NJ 08873, on Sun, Oct 11, 2009 @ 10:00 AM, VT Seva-NJ sponsored a booth exclusively for AP Flood Relief. Our volunteers nicely made photo presentation boards & video presentation for the real situation of AP Flood victims and our CEO HH Swamiji activities. Our volunteers spread all over the place to educate about AP Flood Relief & Other activities of VT Seva. People generously donated to the noble cause. At the end of the event, several other booth keepers too came forward and donated to our activities.