If one were to wonder about Sheela Murthy’s commitment to philanthropy, it could not be made more apparent than on Saturday, October 19, 2014. On that beautiful autumn day, Murthy participated in two major events in greater Washington D.C. The first was as moderator of a panel at the Philanthropy Conference of the American Bazaar, and the second was as a sponsor of ASHA for Women’s annual Gala.
The Philanthropy Conference was well attended by IndianAmerican business owners, representatives from the nonprofit sector, and philanthropists who discussed many aspects of and avenues for giving. Among the many noteworthy comments that came up in Murthy’s panel was a suggestion that “Indian-Americans” should drop the hyphen and think of themselves as Americans of Indian origin, engaging in their local communities here in the United States. This sets an example of philanthropy to our children, who are born and/or brought up here, so that we raise a generation of givers. It shows our American neighbors that we are not isolationists, and that we love this country, too. Highlighted, as well, was the need for gender equality and investment in girls and the education of girls in India. Half of India’s population has not passed 10th grade, and most of them are girls. This greatly under utilizes a tremendous resource. Similarly, it is important for all to be able to access technology and have basic training in its use. Many of India’s people are rural, and knowledge that is available via the internet should be available to everyone. Masterfully guided and kept on point by Ms. Murthy, discussions also addressed Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) clearance and how best to find reputable nongovernmental organizations (NGOs, or nonprofits) among the 3.1 million that now exist in India.
Then, a quick dash just a few miles away to where ASHA for Women held its annual Gala. This event was attended by professionals, business owners, and well wishers, all there to celebrate 25 years of ASHA’s good work in the greater D.C. area, supporting women from South Asia who find themselves in abusive relationships. The program began with a short video made by media expert, Vasant Nayak, Sheela Murthy’s husband. The video was donated to ASHA by the MurthyNAYAK Foundation to use as a public service announcement. The audience heard from survivors of domestic violence – one a current client who has been receiving help from ASHA this year. Following that inspiring story, Ms. Murthy added to her already generous donation in front of the crowd, then through her enthusiasm, she raised $50,000 in donations.
It was heartening to witness so many people with the desire to do good in their community that Saturday. As for Sheela, it isn’t unusual for her to use her time outside of the office doing work for worthwhile causes or worthy organizations in India and in the U.S. She sets a high bar for the rest of us. The motto of the MurthyNAYAK Foundation says it all: From Baltimore to Bangalore, Each Life Matters! ®
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