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June 14, 2011 > A tradition of charity

A tradition of charity

By Julie Grabowski
Photos By courtesy of S. Bagga

Out of our own blessings comes the opportunity to bless the lives of others. This is the simple belief that motivates Indo-Americans for Better Community (IndoABC). Founded in 2000 in Fremont, IndoABC is a board-based, non-profit organization, which serves to create a better society through community awareness and involvement, providing charitable services to those in need, here and abroad.

"The goal is to raise funds and educate the Indian-American community about the local community," says IndoABC Founder and President Dr. Rakesh Sharma. "We believe charity begins at home; this is our home, let's learn what we can do here."

The annual Charity Ball is the main fundraising event, drawing between 250 and 300 people each year. Saturday, June 18 marks the eighth year of the ball, and Dr. Sharma expects a full house. The event benefits two Fremont organizations: Abode Services (formerly known as the Tri-City Homeless Coalition), and the Fremont Senior Center Meals Program.

Abode has been the chosen recipient of the Charity Ball since the event began, and serves to provide meals, housing, and services to homeless people in the community. Dr. Sharma said he saw Abode in their infancy, and a need beyond blankets and other items; what monetary help could provide. Abode has grown over the years, thanks in good part to the efforts of IndoABC.

This is the second year funds will be presented to the Senior Center Meals Program. Under the direction of Linda Olla, the Senior Center offers lunch prepared by onsite chefs and served Monday through Friday to ensure seniors get at least one solid meal each day. About 21,000 meals were served last year with 65 percent of seniors stating that the lunch they receive is their main meal.

"Live" checks are presented at the event, ready for immediate use. Abode will be presented with $25,101, and the Fremont Senior Center $10,101. The amounts ending in an odd number is due to an Indian tradition that believes monetary gifts should end with 1, signifying good luck.

The Charity Ball is a wonderful time of dinner, dancing, and entertainment that begins with drinks and hors d'oeuvres at 6:30 p.m. Attendees can mingle and socialize before enjoying a formal sit down dinner and program including performances by Yoko's Dance and Performing Arts Academy, Rita's Rock-n-Rodeo, as well as an aerial dance company from San Jose. Executive Director of Abode Louis Chicoine and Fremont's Human Services Director Suzanne Shenfil will speak, and a video presentation from each group will highlight their mission and services.

While there are people and organizations all over the world in need, Dr. Sharma believes it is important not to overlook your own community. "It's OK to send money to India, but there are needs right in our backyard," he says. Over the past seven years IndoABC, including matching partner donations, has raised over $400,000 for local charities. Recipients have included Kidango, Meals On Wheels, Ohlone College Foundation, Fremont Senior Center, and Fremont Family Resource Center's Discovery Cove child care service.

The Charity Ball is a great opportunity to get involved and see how you can make a difference in the lives of others. Because according to Dr. Sharma, "It's all about charity at the end of the day."

Tickets for the ball cost $60 per person and must be reserved in advance by calling (510) 657-0396. Those who cannot attend but still wish to make a contribution can mail donations to Indo-Americans for Better Community, 707 Pilgrim Loop, Fremont, CA 94539. To learn more about IndoABC visit online at

Indo-American Charity Ball
Saturday, June 18
6:30 p.m.
Hilton Fremont/Newark
39900 Balentine Dr., Fremont
(510) 657-0396
Tickets: $60

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