Vibhushita would like to introduce Vasudha Ramanarasiah, as our first "Everyday Superstar". Through this new series, each month we would love to share the story of a woman who has made a difference to the world around us.
To be a volunteer, it takes...
- Generosity; a willingness to give your time to others
- Understanding; because their lives might be very different from your own
- Empathy; an ability to put yourself in someone else's shoes and feel what they feel
- Compassion; to truly care about making someone else's life better
- Patience; because the process doesn't always go as smoothly as it might
- Dedication; to stick with the project and see it through
Vasudha, you have shown these qualities and so much more.
I have known Vasudha as a good friend and over the last few years have seen her grow into a tenacious and committed social worker. She is the mother of two and has been a passionate advocate for volunteerism. She cares deeply about education and has spent many hours mentoring students in her local middle school. She has been honored by the Moreland school district and the Junior League of Women - San Jose, for the exemplary service she has put in. Finally, she is not only a determined and patient person, but we will learn how through volunteering, she has found a new purpose in her life.
Tell us a little bit about yourself My name is Vasudha and I am a full time volunteer and mom to two wonderful teenagers. I have a computer application degree and have worked both in India and in the US. I quit my job 17 years ago when my son was born. My daughter was born 3 years later and I became a full time mom who did not stay home but decided to volunteer at every chance I got.
When did you start volunteering? I started volunteering when my son entered kindergarten and I really did not know it was an option until his teacher mentioned it. I started in a small way in the classroom and as years went by I got involved more deeply in school level activities and went on to become a board member in the Moreland Education Foundation.
What is the time commitment required? The wonderful thing about volunteering is you can determine how much or how little you would like to do. Initially when my daughter was young I could not do much but I tried many ways like trading day care with my friend and used that time to volunteer. As she got older and went to preschool I had more time and could devote more time to volunteering and I sometimes used the weekend as my husband would be home. When the kids got a bit older they used to accompany me when I volunteered and I am happy to say that both of them love to volunteer for any opportunity they get.
What have you gained from pursuing volunteering?
A deep sense of contentment that I am able to help and make a difference.
To make time to use my skills and education to fund raise, expose children other than my own to new skills or just be a caring adult who can help kids become advocates for themselves.
To learn and grow as a person by pursuing projects that I might not otherwise have done and learn new skills.
I have had the luxury of having enjoyed my children’s childhood and adolescence, supported them and also done meaningful work in my community.
Been a role model to my children and showed them by actions that giving back to the community you live in is very important.
I am a better parent and spouse because of having a purpose in my life other than just kids, husband and familial duties.
On a lighter note made so many wonderful friends from very diverse backgrounds and cultures. These are relationships I will treasure all my life.
What would you advise someone who is new to volunteering?
Take some time to think what it is that excites you the most or an area where you feel the time you invest with no tangible results will not frustrate you.The second one is more important because volunteering is work which will not give you tangible benefits like money, bonus or instant gratification but with time, patience and perseverance it will fill you with gratitude and contentment. I can give some examples of how I did it which will explain what I mean – I volunteered in activities which involved technology because that is where I was trained.
I was not a very voracious reader in my younger days but I made sure my kids inculcated the love of reading and when I got a chance to do that at school to other kids I snagged the opportunity and put on many Scholastic Book Fairs which gave access to books to many school children.During one such events I realized that there are schools in my very neighborhood that have fewer resources than the ones my children had, so I stepped up and joined the Education Foundation to make a difference at a wider level.
I am very passionate about food and I believe that anything we can do to get good fresh food to people is worth my time. Of late I volunteer a lot in the Second Harvest food bank.
I wanted to give the same opportunities of support and mentoring that my children have to other students who for some reason or the other do not get it at home. I mentored students who were in their 7th and 8th grades for 2 years.
The biggest advantage of volunteering where your passion or expertise lies is that you will never face ‘burn out’ and will bring the same level of enthusiasm and zeal every day. The most important thing when you volunteer is commitment and a deep sense of responsibility because someone at the other end is depending on your help and support.