|Nominating Committee Chair
|Board of Directors
|Friends of Saathi
|Anju McCanna (IT Consultant)
|Deepthi Sid Rao (Website & Domain Admin)
Until the 1970’s and 1980’s the incidents related to Domestic Violence (DV) and Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) were considered to be personal and family secrets. “Why wash the dirty linen in public” was considered the common advice. Times changed after Violence Against Women (VAW) act was passed in 1994 and DV was addressed in courts making possible for victims of DV to get justice and protection from abuse. The South Asian victims of DV had religious, cultural and language issues that posed barriers in seeking help from local organizations and shelters. Several South Asian (SA) started emerging in US in different states to help SADV victims.
Shashi and Ravi Sharma talked to their daughter about it since she had devoted ten or more of her growing up years helping victims of Domestic Violence in the New York City and Washington DC areas after working initially in the National Office at Harrisburg, PA. She was the force behind that motivated Shashi Sharma to start a group with the like minded people in Rochester to help those who are affected by the abuse. Some of them had helped the victims of DV on their own in the past.
On 15 February 2004, the first brainstorming meeting for starting a SADV organization in Rochester several community members met at Locust Hill Country Club Board Room. There was tremendous enthusiasm with a firm commitment by everyone present to meet every two weeks until the organization was up and running. A few notables who attended the initial meetings : Amrithkala and Padmanabh Kamath, Rachna Vaid, Rekha Jain, Shelly Agarwala, Kripal Mehta, Sita Reghunathan, Saroj Sinha, Shashi and Ravi Sharma, Lata Karlekar, Indu Maitra and Mangala Mude and a few others who attended one meeting or two and left.
Saathi name and the logo were adopted. The Board approved the Constitution and Bylaws. The Goals and the Mission and vision statements for Saathi were approved. (501) c tax exempt status for Saathi was obtained. A Board from the volunteers was elected and an executive committee was carved out for the organization within its bylaws.
The first executive committee consisted of Shashi Sharma (President), Pal Mehta (Vice President), Padmanabh Kamath (Secretary) and Lata Karlekar as Treasurer.
We met at Locust Hill Country Club on monthly basis which was extended as a courtesy by the club.
The organization was set officially except for the knowledge of Domestic Violence and the required 60 hours of training for becoming an advocate for the victims. Anu helped us in getting first Sujata Warrier from Manavi, NJ who devoted a whole weekend training us and the second was a DV Folder for reference. Shashi was responsible for other speakers for our training. Cathy Mazzotta from Alternatives for Battered Women, Rochester Legal Aid and Robert Kennedy from Law Enforcement amongst others taught us the legal and law situations affecting the victims. Saathi became a member of the Domestic Violence Consortium of Monroe County and got exposure to many local outreach programs and allowed an opportunity to have some speakers to help train us.
As the organization evolved further it was joined by Afshan Qureshi , Noor Haleem , Meera Jain, Geetha Vijay, Uma Gupta, Roxana Ahmed who brought with them the knowledge of working with the victims of DV/sexual abuse. Afshan is trained to deal with immigration issues and has accreditation for Saathi and herself to deal with them for the victims. The current Board is a strong body of volunteers and is still looking to become stronger with new volunteers.
Saathi has no staff on payroll. Saathi provides advocacy to its clients, temporary housing, groceries, legal help and custody issues, immigration problems, health & emotional issues and lots of hand holding. One case is too many. Having said that, we at Saathi are grateful to the community that shows its support with their generous donations for what we do to help the victims of Domestic Violence and Sexual Abuse.
The vision of Saathi is the prevention of domestic violence and sexual abuse in the South Asian community.
The mission of Saathi is to empower people of South Asian origin in Western New York who are experiencing domestic violence to regain their dignity and rebuild their lives by becoming self-confident and self-sufficient.
Saathi’s renewal of DOJ’s recognition is active till 2026. It allows Saathi to assist in the immigration needs of Saathi’s clients. Ms. Afshan Qureshi is the fully Accredited DOJ representative for Saathi. Dr. Shashi Sharma, the Founder and the current President of Saathi has partial DOJ accreditation. This allows her to represent the clients in DHS.