South Asian Council for Social Services (SACSS) celebrated its 16th anniversary with a Gala at Utsav Restaurant, NYC, on October 16, 2016.
At this event SACSS raised funds for a first of its kind South Asian Food Pantry program. Through this program SACSS provides South Asian food items such as staples, pulses and spices to individuals and families that face food insecurity. Highlighting the need for a South Asian food pantry, SACSS board president Shamir Khan stated that it was the need of the hour because basic human needs such as food were not being met. SACSS started the South Asian food pantry on July 1, 2016 which already serves 30 families with 77 individuals, 14 seniors and children. SACSS hosted a paddle raise in support of the South Asian Food pantry which garnered enthusiastic support from the attendees.
All SACSS’ programs and services are free and are provided by culturally competent staff members who speak Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi, Gujarati, Bengali, Kannada, Telegu, Tamil, Malayalam, Marathi, Nepali and Spanish.
The event honored Dr. Ram Raju, President and CEO at NYC Health+Hospitals for his vision, commitment and leadership in the area of healthcare access. Receiving his award, Dr. Raju stated that it was important to support SACSS because the services it provides are crucial and important to many New Yorkers. Manisha Sheth, Executive Deputy Attorney General for Economic Justice with the New York State, was also honored for her exemplary work in the area of consumer protection. Talking about the numerous challenges faced by South Asian and other immigrants, Ms. Sheth emphasized the enormous strides SACSS has made in serving this population and contributed towards social justice.
New York City’s newly appointed Chief Digital officer Sree Sreenivasan was the third honoree. He was recognized for his creativity in the field of digital and social media. Roopa Unnikrishnan, an innovation consultant and wife of Mr. Sreenivasan received the award on behalf of her husband, who was traveling for work. Congratulating SACSS, Ms. Unnikrishnan stated that SACSS’ work depicted “social entrepreneurship at its best.”
Other notable attendees at the event included Nisha Agarwal, Commissioner, Immigrant Affairs (New York), Flushing Council Member Peter Koo, Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (District 25), Congresswoman Grace Meng (District 6) and Bangladesh Consul General Md. Shameem Ahsan. SACSS was presented a commendation by the New York City Comptroller’s office at the event. Talking about the organization’s wide range of services, Sudha Acharya, executive director of SACSS remarked that it was important that the community’s needs should be addressed in a holistic manner and clients should be provided with a comprehensive set of services.
Noted actor Pallavi Sastry was the emcee for the gala and Navatman Music Collective enthralled the audience with a unique blend of vocal and instrumental music. SACSS volunteers – Hasib Choudhury and Sobiha Ahmed were felicitated as SACSS champions for their invaluable contributions. Exceptional participants from SACSS’ Summer Youth Leadership program (2016) were also recognized.
Founded in 2000, SACSS’ mission is to empower and integrate underserved South Asian and other immigrants into the economic and civic life of New York City through its programs. Till date SACSS has provided direct services in the fields of healthcare, senior support, supportive counseling, civic engagement, English and computer classes to over 25,000 community members. More recently SACSS launched the first South Asian Food Pantry. All SACSS’ programs and services are free and are provided by culturally competent staff members who speak Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi, Gujarati, Bengali, Kannada, Telegu, Tamil, Malayalam, Marathi, Nepali and Spanish.