On February 15th 2004 an initial group met at Locust Hill Country Club Board Room to brain storm a new venture of starting a Not for Profit organization that would help the South Asian Victims of Domestic and Sexual Abuse in our community. Anu had already primed us up with the basic requirements for starting a Non for Profit Organization of this type. 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. We were enthused and were willing to work this through. 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 at the courtesy of the club. The organization was set officially and needed in depth knowledge about intricacies of Domestic Violence and the required 60 hours of training for becoming a competent advocate for the victims. Anu helped us start the training by first inviting Sujata Warrior, founder of Manavi, NJ who devoted a whole weekend training all the SAATHI directors. Anu also provided a Manual on DV in South Asian Community containing 15 chapters covering all aspects of DV for our reference. Shashi was responsible for other speakers for our training. Cathy Mazzotta from Alternatives for Battered Women, Cindy Carol from Rochester Legal Aid and Robert Kennedy from Law Enforcement were amongst others who taught us the legal and law situations affecting the DV victims. Saathi became a member of the Domestic Violence Consortium of Rochester/Monroe County, got to know, connect with and get help from so many local agencies and outreach programs that gave us additional confidence in helping the clients and allowed an opportunity to have more speakers to 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. SAATHI has BIA Recognition and Afshan & Shashi have partial BIA Accreditation to do the immigration work for Saathi Clients. 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 that SAATHI uses to help the South Asian victims of Domestic Violence and Sexual Abuse.