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Sewa Convenes Stakeholders To Address Pressing Social Issues

Sewa Convenes Stakeholders To Address Pressing Social Issues

Sewa Convenes Stakeholders To Address Pressing Social Issues

India-West Staff Reporter

SAN JOSE, CA – On February 10, the Bay Area chapter of Sewa International convened a landmark “summit” to foster collaboration among various stakeholders to tackle pressing societal issues affecting the lives of underserved communities across the Bay Area, a press release said.

The event titled ‘Bill of Responsibilities Summit: Building One Community’ aimed to lay the groundwork for strategic planning and align the actions of the various stakeholders to drive positive change for the entire community.

Representatives from over 45 non-profit organizations as well as elected officials, academia, media, and corporations actively participated in the discussions and pledged their commitment to working together to tackle the challenges associated with food, health, shelter, education, and disaster preparedness.

 Dr. Catherine Mohr, the Director of Intuitive Foundation,  underscored the importance of the convergence of several fronts in making a final impact that is both massive and sustainable. As she reflected upon her work at the Intuitive Foundation with multiple education programs across the world, she highlighted the need for “sustainability planning” right from the get-go and “centralizing communication” when embarking on scaling non-profit projects. Mohr, who also serves on Sewa Bay Area’s Advisory Board, emphasized the need for “selfless collaboration” and “operationalization of processes.”

The first panel titled “From Scarcity to Sufficiency: Building a Stronger Future” effectively highlighted the intrinsic link between food and education. Larry Sweeney, School Board Trustee for the Fremont Unified School District, and Chris Norwood, School Board Trustee from the Milpitas Unified School District, both representing high-performing districts, emphasized the value of data-driven decision-making using tools like the California School Dashboard and Local Control and Accountability Plan for improving educational outcomes and replicating successful models. Joining them on the panel were Larry Klein, Mayor of Sunnyvale; Todd Langton, Founder of the non-profit Agape; and Chris Sturken, Partnership Manager for Sacred Heart Community and Council Member for Redwood City. The public officials on the panel stressed the importance of community engagement, urging more active involvement, while the non-profit organizations emphasized the need for comprehensive data to better inform strategies and resource allocation. Childcare support and food diversion emerged as potential areas that could benefit from increased support.

The second panel, titled ‘Building Resilience: Shelter, Health, and Disaster Preparedness – Navigating Challenges, Transforming Lives,’ highlighted the critical interplay between shelter and access to healthcare. The panelists included Dr. Harsha Ramchandani, Chief Medical Officer of the Bay Area

Community Health; Anil Surpur, President of Yoga Bharati; Franci Collins, Community Relations Liaison of Collaborating Agencies’ Disaster Relief Effort; Cindy Chavez, Supervisor of Santa Clara County; and Alex Lee, California State Assemblymember. The discussion identified several key areas for improvement, including the destigmatization of mental health, addressing escalating drug abuse, raising awareness about preventive health measures and social determinants of health, and integrating evidence-based alternative medicine. Collaboration with non-profit organizations was underscored as crucial for addressing these challenges comprehensively and cost-effectively while addressing their root causes.

In his closing remarks, community leader Ajay Jain Bhutoria highlighted the importance of maintaining communication through a series of such conversations to translate these discussions and solutions into bills and policy changes that are sustainable in the long run.

The event culminated with the signing of a “Pledge of Partnership” by all leaders and stakeholders, demonstrating their commitment to collaborative efforts aimed at implementing the discussed changes outlined during the summit.

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