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BAPS Chino Hills HOSTS THIRD ANNUAL WOMEN’S CONFERENCE Focuses on Nurturing Families, Shaping Communities  

Los Angeles, May 24, 2010
By Dilip Butani

On March 20th, 2010 the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Hindu Mandir, Chino Hills celebrated the 3rd annual BAPS Women’s Conference. Over 300 women from the surrounding communities of Chino Hills, CA gathered to share experiences and draw inspiration from the positive impact of women in their local communities.

This conference is in recognition of women’s accomplishments and cultural, economic and social achievements in their community. Women serve as positive role models and have strong influences toward their family and society. International Women’s day (IWD), acknowledged worldwide, is a global day in celebration of women.  IWD was commemorated by the United Nations to recognize women and the important contributions they have made in the world. BAPS is a current member of the UN’s Economic and Social Council.

The theme of the conference, “Nurturing Families, Shaping Communities,” provided a forum for attendees to discuss the educational and environmental impact created by the global community of women through their roles in family and society. The theme draws inspiration from BAPS’ core values of nurturing individuals and creating stronger families. The distinguished speakers in today’s conference discussed how women nurture one’s education, health, environment and spirituality.

The event commenced with California State Assemblywoman of the 61st district, Norma J Torres who presented the women of BAPS with a proclamation commemorating their efforts in nurturing families and shaping communities. California State Assemblyman Kurt Hagman of the 60th district , also presented BAPS with an additional proclamation in recognition of the organization’s humanitarian achievements. Grace Hagman, field representative of San Bernadino County Supervisior Gary Ovitt, also presented BAPS with a proclamation honoring the organization of their charitable involvement in the local Chino Hills community.

Dr. Tracy Shamas, PhD in industrial and organizational psychology, discussed the power of education. She emphasized how learning is a life-long process that can enhance the pleasures of everyday living. She stressed that “our perceptions and beliefs will shape our image and behavior.”  Therefore by thinking in a positive manner, one can influence others to think positively as well. She encouraged the delegates that learning should never cease and everyone should set out to meet the goals one has set for oneself. She lastly stated, “As a mother, sister, and woman in the community we are always talking about the negative, but if we talk about the positive it will create a ripple effect, and by doing so all women can be an inspiration to others.”

Dr Jeanne Black, the manager of health policy research at Cedar-Sinai Medical Center, spoke of promoting healthy behavior through helping the society, environment, low-income communities and civic engagement. She emphasized the importance of an individual’s impact in their society. She encouraged the delegates in the conference to participate in their local communities by volunteering in medical clinics and health centers. She stated, “It doesn’t require a professional to nurture health, anyone can create an impact by communicating, helping, and taking an active role in the community.”

Addressing the topic of nurturing the environment, Mrs. Marley Klaus, director of communications in media for the California Endowment, discussed the need of building healthy communities. For this to be achieved, she advised how the community needs to take action to help make California a healthier environment for all.

She spoke of how “there is power when families get together with organizations to create changes in the environment. This can be made possible by an individual’s effort by working with the community to help battle the effects of poor infrastructure in the cities, increased pollution, and growing obesity rates in children.”

The last speaker of the evening, Mrs. Sejal Patel-Daswani, spoke of nurturing spirituality in one’s life. Mrs. Patel-Daswani is a long time member of BAPS and has over 10 years of experience in corporate strategy, marketing and policy, and has served CEOs and head of businesses in the financial services, technology and healthcare sectors. She emphasized the power that a spiritual community plays to nurture the individual, and stated, “At Mandir,  I was given an extended family with numerous uncles and aunts. They helped me, took care of me, mentored me, and nurtured me.”  The model for nurturing global change begins with the individual, which branches to family, and then grows into the community. Within the community it is important for one to find mentors that will inspire and encourage one to succeed in life and be a motivation to others.

Roma Patel, BAPS public relations volunteer, concluded with remarks on the growth of BAPS in the past 100 years. The evening concluded with dinner and an opportunity for the delegates to network with one another. Attendees left inspired and empowered, ready to implement the message of the conference in their own lives.

About BAPS

The BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS), a worldwide socio-spiritual organization in Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, is dedicated to community service, peace and harmony.  Motivated by Hindu principles, BAPS strives to care for the world by caring for societies, families and individuals. Through a number of social and spiritual activities, BAPS endeavors to produce better citizens of tomorrow who have a high esteem for their roots - their rich Hindu culture. Its 3,300 international centers support these activities of character-building. Under the guidance and leadership of His Divine Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, BAPS aspires to build a community that is morally, ethically and spiritually pure, and free of addictions.

About Pramukh Swami Maharaj

His Divine Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the fifth spiritual successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, has inspired millions of people across the world to lead a God-centered, morally pure life.  As the present leader of BAPS, Pramukh Swami Maharaj travels from village to village, continent to continent, emphasizing the importance of family harmony, community service and spiritual progress. He embodies the essence of Hindu life.  His compassion for humanity, universal wisdom and striking simplicity have touched many world religious and national leaders.

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