In Harvey’s Wake, IACF Presents a Check of $200,000 to the Mayor of Houston


From left: Dr. Purvi Parikh, Alpa Shah, Shobana Muratee, Zenith Ellankil, Mahesh Wadhwa, Prem Cholia, Dr. Vanitha Pothuri, Sreeni Nakirekanti, Venkat Iyer, Mayor Sylvester Turner, Nanda Vura, Swatantra Jain, Bela Thacker, Dr. Ratna Kumar, Hasu Patel, and Dr. Ramesh Cherivirala, on Monday February 5 during the check presentation event, held at the Mayor’s office in the City Hall. Photos: Vanshika Vipin Varma

By Vanshika Vipin Varma

HOUSTON: In it’s philanthropic spirit; Indo American Charity Foundation (IACF) has been addressing needs in the areas of education, family, and healthcare in the Metro Houston area since almost three decades. They have been providing scholarships to high potential college bound students with financial needs, supporting local charities, feeding the homeless and needy, and providing free medical clinics and vaccinations.

About seven weeks after the Hurricane Harvey howled through the roofs and walls of several homes, shattering not only properties but also lives, the IACF team had organized a fundraising gala. Their cause to support the hurricane victims helped them raise $200,000, and earlier this month, a group of IACF Board members met with Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, to present him with this check. While Houston has bounced back from the catastrophic damage, the city is still recovering and any kind of amount is significant enough for its speedy recovery.

A little known fact is that the fundraiser gala, which was held on October 7, 2017, was about to get cancelled. However, the immediate past president Dr. Vanitha Pothuri and the IACF board retained the idea of holding the gala, which went on to be successful, with more than $200,000 being raised. The chief guest of the gala, the philanthropic Swatantra Jain generously donated $50,000. He and his wife Bimla have donated to many local charities and stand amongst the well-known philanthropists in the Indian community. Dr. Pothuri committed $25,000 of her own, while Gala Chair, Swapnil Agarwal, committed another $10,000. The noble intent and hard work eventually paid off, as the gala turned out successful with around 600 people in attendance. Mayor Turner, the Guest of Honor at the fundraiser last year, was unable to attend the event and was represented by Houston Vice-Mayor Pro Tem Jerry V. Davis (District B).

The check presentation event was held at the Mayor’s office in the City Hall, on February 5. After a brief introduction session the check was presented to the Mayor. Mayor Turner stated, “I am overwhelmed and very thankful to everyone at IACF”. He mentioned that there were thousands of affected people that still need help, and these mainly included children and the elderly, people with special needs, people with low or no income, along with the ones who have exhausted their resources. Continuing his heartfelt thanks, he mentioned, “ I’m deeply thankful to everyone, and specially the entire South-Asian community, for coming forward to help support the victims of Harvey. This is a great demonstration of the amazing diversity of this city.” Swatantra Jain praised Mayor Turner as one of the greatest Mayors. Mahesh Wadhwa, the current President of IACF shared his thoughts. Referring to Mayor Turner, Wadhwa stated,“ This is just a drop in the bucket and we are honored that you are accepting this check”. Dr. Pothuri who was instrumental in making the gala a success shared with the Mayor the vision of IACF. She mentioned that IACF’s annual fundraising events help raise funds to help students in need of scholarships and to support other local organizations working towards improving health, education and human services in the Greater Houston Area. Mayor Turner wished IACF the best and mentioned that he was glad to receive the check.

Currently serving on the IACF’s Executive Committee are Mahesh Wadhwa, President; Swetha Arora, Secretary; Venkat Iyer, Treasurer; Sreeni Nakirekanti, Joint Treasurer; Shobana Muratee as President–Elect; and Dr. Vanitha Pothuri, Immediate Past President.

This year, IACF completes 30 years as a leading non-profit organization, representing the philanthropic spirit of the Indo American community in Houston. Driven by its motto “We Live Here, We Give Here,” IACF strives to serve the greater Houston community in more ways than it can. 

IACF’s next event, ‘We Walk, We Care’, is a walk-a-thon being held in April 2018, in Sugar Land. For more information on IACF visit