Meera Gandhi, CEO and Founder of The Giving Back Foundation, presented the 3rd Annual Meera Gandhi Giving Back Award to acclaimed film director Mira Nair at the Woodstock Film Festival on October 5, 2013. In the presentation during the Maverick Awards gala evening in Woodstock, New York, Meera Gandhi said that that the Giving Back spirit must be kindled in all walks of life.
Meera Gandhi presented the Giving Back award and $5000 Cash honorarium to Ms. Nair. The award is given each year to the director, producer or actor who best delivers a message of social change and a strong compassion for philanthropy.
Mira Nair, one of the icons of filmmaking, is best known for her directorial brilliance with such legendary films as Monsoon Wedding, Salaam Bombay, Vanity Fair, The Namesake, and her most recent film, the Reluctant Fundamentalist. The Broadway stage production of Monsoon Wedding will open in 2014. A dedicated humanitarian, she has helped over 5000 street kids in India and established 17 centers for them. She works with young filmmakers in Uganda, where she operates film schools for the African continents best and brightest young filmmakers.
Past recipients of the Meera Gandhi Giving Back award for philanthropy were actor Mark Ruffalo in 2011 and actor, director and screenwriter Tim Blake Nelson in 2012. Mark is involved with the environment and Tim Blake with creating theater opportunity for youth in NYC.
This award is in keeping with the Giving Back Foundation philosophy: We are to the universe only as much as we give back to it —Meera Gandhi
Children’s Hope India/The Giving Back Foundation Grant to NY Students
The Giving Back Foundation has provided substantial grants to four South Asian students attending Baruch University in New York City, through a Childrens Hope India/The Giving Back Foundation partnership in New York. In 2012-2013, the scholarships changed lives around for the four Baruch University students, who were able accomplish much more because of the funding. The students are: Saveendra Wijebandara, who writes, ” The Giving Back Foundation scholarship has inspired me to one day help students like you do. I take this to be another incentive for me to try hard in school to achieve my goals.” Saveeendra, who is from Sri Lanka, said that he is the first person in his family to ever attend college, so he thanked the Foundation for making his family’s dreams and aspirations possible.
The second awardee is Yahya Khan, who hopes to become a CPA and was able to get an audit internship with Deloitte this past summer. Radha Ramnauth is the third awardee, who used the funding for a study abroad experience, something she could never have done on her own. She said, “I decided to take an art history course in the very place that started the Renaissance, Florence, Italy! I was able to live on my own for the first time, pick up some Italian linguistics and meet life-long friends who shared the experience with me.”
The fourth student who received the scholarship is Rishika Singh, who said, “I want The Giving Back Foundation to know how much I appreciate this generous grant and your investment in the future of Baruch students like myself.” Besides academics, she is involved in many of the business clubs in Baruch, and takes part in volunteer opportunities such as American Red Cross Club.
Besides funding these Baruch scholarships, the donation by The Giving Back Foundation also went toward college scholarships to children of very modest means, who have been identified by the Guru Harkishan Society. Many of these students have lost their fathers who were the main bread-winners, so the scholarships to college are an enormous help to them.
The Giving Back Foundation sponsors People to People trip to Ireland
As part of its mission to uplift and empower young people globally, this past summer The Giving Back Foundation was pleased to sponsor part of the trip of young McCall Redden of Washington State to Ireland, as part of the People to People annual summer program. McCall and other young people assisted patients in a hospital in the village of Cahirciveen, County Kerry, Ireland, doing such chores as painting bright and colorful pictures on the wall facing the patients windows, assisting patients and knitting and singing with them. In the nearby peat bogs of Ireland, the students worked cutting and stacking the peat that they then gave to the elderly to burn fires in the winter. McCall Redden, 13, is on the right in the yellow vest in the group photo; Emma Durbin of Washington State is seated, in the other yellow vest. McCall Redden is shown alone in the second photo, painting flowers and trees on the hospital wall. The young ladies in white are hospital volunteers from Ireland. Said McCall Redden, I am so grateful to The Giving Back Foundation for its generous sponsorship of such a life-enriching experience in Ireland this past summer. It was a real lesson in giving back.