Saahas for Cause SOV 22

Published: April 13, 2022

Saahas for Cause

Honoree’s Name: Anchu Biswas

Award Category: Public Health & Safety

Why This Volunteer is Extraordinary:

Anchu BiswasAnchu has been a dedicated volunteer with Saahas since founding. She was instrumental in setting up and managing Saahas’ social media platforms and also set up the Saahas newsletter; the latter has grown from 90 subscribers to over 800 within a year. Her efforts have helped us deliver our services to a larger audience.

She is passionate about helping immigrants – her outreach efforts on various platforms have made it possible to reach nearly 2000 followers.

Her marketing efforts serve to amplify the efforts of the Saahas volunteer organization. During the pandemic, she has successfully launched public health campaigns such as Aspire To Inspire, Reading Club and Saahas-Taarika mental health educational video series.

Anchu has proven to be an outstanding mentor for the youth interns and volunteers. She conducts fun and interactive team meetings that everyone looks forward, even during the weekends. She also leads Saahas Youth public health and social justice projects. During her leadership, the number of volunteers has doubled in these projects. Anchu is also an active participant in the e-visitor phone program that checks on the wellness of older adults in the community during the isolation period of the pandemic. All the seniors are fond of her and eagerly wait for that weekly call to chat with her.

Anchu’s skill extend beyond marketing to numbers – she has been exceptional in assisting Saahas’ finance department as well.

As a young nonprofit, we all here wear multiple hats, and Anchu is a great example of the kind of dedication that organizations like Saahas need. At Saahas, we fondly call her the backbone of the organization.

Honoree’s Name: Phawnta Avery

Award Category: Public Health & Safety

Why This Volunteer is Extraordinary:

Sheetal Ayyathan

Sheetal has been volunteering with Saahas 40+ hours a week for more that 18 months. She was part of the core group at Saahas, that spread awareness around Covid-19 in LA county through outreach efforts. Outreach efforts would include curating virtual sessions to disseminate information regarding Covid-19 outbreak including recruiting physicians as speakers to speak on topics such as myths around Covid-19. Sheetal was also responsible for assisting more than 60 community members register for vaccination. She has also volunteered in-person at weekly vaccine clinics since January 2021. In addition, she has gone door-to-door to reach out to small businesses in various pockets of Los Angeles county to distribute PPE kits and encourage & educate the underserved population in the area to get Covid-19 vaccinated.

As a domestic violence advocate, she has assisted victims of domestic violence during this time by providing trauma informed support & counseling and connecting them to various resources for housing, legal, therapy etc. She organized and conducted bi-monthly support groups for domestic violence survivors. She also arranged for workshops where legal experts helped domestic violence victims navigate the court system where several changes were implemented due to the pandemic. She has also written articles in the print media for Saahas for Cause, underlining how domestic violence has been a shadow pandemic within a global pandemic.

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others” – M.K. Gandhi

This quote best describes Sheetal who is an immigrant with lived experience of mental health issues, a witness to domestic violence incidents within her close circle and is now an advocate for mental health, domestic violence and sexual assault. She is compassionate and dedicated to assisting community members and uplifting the quality of life of the underserved in the community. Sheetal is persistent, when it comes to finding resources for her clients. In one of the reviews from her clients, they mentioned how Sheetal persevered for months seeking resources to successfully help the client, who was having issues finding employment due to a false charged levied by their abuser, which would show up in background search. Especially when dealing with domestic violence victims, Sheetal has had to work outside of appointments to provide consultation and emotional support when needed.

Sheetal mobilized food and grocery donations from community members for a family that recently immigrated to US amid the pandemic and were struggling to make ends meet. She would collect these donations from near and far locations and deliver them to the family. This helped the family save money on food, which they were able to use towards their rent payment.

When the Covid-19 pandemic struck, she was one of the volunteers at the forefront advocating for Covid-19 vaccination. In addition to volunteering full time at Saahas for Cause, Sheetal has gone above and beyond during the pandemic to volunteer for vaccination clinics on weekends.

Sheetal is an enthusiastic volunteer who is involved in all the causes that Saahas works for. She has quickly risen to be one of the core members of Saahas’ team.

She has reached out to various other organizations in Los Angeles and Orange county to create a symbiotic relationship that benefits Saahas for Cause’s clients. She has also successfully recruited youth volunteers for Saahas.

Even though her primary responsibility is working for the Women Wellness program, she has enthusiastically contributed her time, ideas and assistance to Senior Wellness programs, Community wellness program as well as Saahas youth program. In addition to these, she also works with college students on social research and was instrumental in Saahas becoming Presidential Volunteer Service Award certifying organization.