July 14, 2020
Supported by
     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.

       When 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 help.

     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 needed.

     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 American Dream.

Jagdish Vasudev

Founder, Director
New Americans Program


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