I came to the United States in 1970.
Like many of my colleagues I worked hard to
make a living, raise children, and above all,
to become a responsible member of American Society.
My cultural background taught me to address
family problems without soliciting outside help.
In fact, discussing your personal problems with
people outside the immediate family was forbidden
or considered as a weakness of the household.
we moved to New Jersey in 1976, I started getting
involved in our ethnic Indian community and soon was
recognized as a community leader. In this role, I
was often approached by community members who would
share their personal family issues and solicit my
advice in resolving them. I noticed that most of the
people I advised during this time were reluctant to
solicit professional help either because of the stigma
attached to discussing family problems with outsiders
or simply because they did not know how to seek professional
On Sept 13th, 2001, I received a call from a
friend who asked me to accompany her to visit a young
woman whose husband was missing in the 9-11 attack
on the World Trade Center. As we were helping her
deal with her tragic loss, 11 other Asian Indian families
affected by the tragedy solicited my help to work
through the complex process of accessing financial
support offered by several social service agencies.
It was truly a satisfying experience for me.
After months of volunteering to help these families,
United Way appointed me to manage the Family Advocate
Program established by Governor James McGreevey. The
program helped 700+ families in New Jersey who suffered
the loss of a loved one. I managed the program for
one year and realized that the immigrant families
also had additional challenges of crossing cultural
and language barriers, which prevented the successful
access of the support services they so desperately
The New Americans Program concept
was developed based on my personal and professional
experiences as family friend, community leader, Program
Manager of the Family Advocate Program, and above
all, as a New American myself. With the strong backing
of the United Ways of New Jersey and the support of
local community leaders and volunteers, I am confident
we will make major strides in helping the immigrant
population in New Jersey move closer to reaching The
New Americans Program