On a bright Saturday evening, I walked into a room full of familiar and non-familiar faces, a vibe crossed my path, a vibe one would only notice at a family gathering. Small children played around cheerfully; preparations were being made for speakers to take the stage, last minute decorations and introductions flew across the room. The energy and exuberance spoke volumes about how the latter part of the evening would turn out to be. What followed next was a series of conversations about performance, the intensity of impact in the lives of visually challenged people, the effort it took to give the gift of vision to millions, experiences of working with the organization, memories of that one moment that glued people and never let them go. The event in context is the Volunteer Appreciation Dinner that was held by Sankara Eye Foundation, USA on Saturday, April 25th, 2015, in Sunnyvale, California. This event brought to light the secret of the success achieved by the organization. A stark camaraderie was clearly visible among members of all age groups. While there was some mention of numbers, past year’s records, works that different teams do, but the meet was anything but a formal office event. It wasn’t so much about the non-profit, as much it was about the volunteers. This evening was a culmination of efforts of the volunteer management team to have volunteers fly in from cities across the country, (Seattle, Los Angeles, Detroit, Phoenix, New Jersey, DC, and Houston) to appreciate their dedication and plan for the year ahead.
A speech from our Chairman, Murali Krishnamurthy set the momentum going. An ever smiling face in all situations, his positivity has rubbed onto most volunteers working with Sankara. The seriousness of the event gave way to a narration of anecdotes, reasons what made volunteers fly all the way from the east coast, and how they stay motivated. An interesting story that motivated one of the members enough to continue helping in the noble cause became the highlight. He received a certificate with a picture of the patient, thanking him for the contribution. There can be no better appreciation and no better motivation. The evening was full of such stories and instances, and hearing them was a surreal experience. It is no surprise that this noble cause pioneered by some excellent people, at the helm of affairs, is largely a volunteer-run show. Forming the backbone of the organization, they are known to pull off large scale events on their own. Various chapters across the country are small, and handled by passionate people who are doing well in their professional lives but here at Sankara, the only thing that drives them is their passion, and zeal to make a difference. The mark of success lies in the fact that there were generations of a family present at the meet, each one equally enthusiastic as the other. The jewel in the crown was one of the members narrating that one of our oldest members (88) belonged to his family and her love for the cause made him commit to the organization.
The uniqueness of this program is unparallel. No demands, a donation as little as 30 dollars, helping with organizing events, assisting in volunteer management, are some of the many tasks wherein you can contribute. The decision of how much money/how many hours you want to give to this noble cause rests solely with you. The foundation has been instrumental in opening 1.3 million eyes, and this gathering was proof of what perseverance, belief, and strength can do. The end of the night saw some fun games where we saw just as much enthusiasm as seen while at work. We have always known roots to provide strength to trees; Sankara Eye Foundation is an organization where its many twigs are its strength. No team gives as much freedom to its volunteers. Mahatma Gandhi once said, “The best way to find yourself is loose yourself in the service of others,” and ever since the inception, hundreds of us have found ourselves while bringing light to someone’s life. Join the movement and see how your life takes a turn for the better.