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Forum for India Community Services (FICS)


Forum for India Community Services

Los Angeles, Dec.30, 2008
By Dilip Butani

Caring for a dying loved one can be both emotionally exhausting and financially demanding. Dying has become very expensive due to high costs of funeral and the rituals that follow. Many families are strapped for funds to pay for these expenses. Further many families do not perform follow up rituals for want of facilities locally and /or due to lack of knowledge and understanding of the importance of such rituals

Helping the families at that time of need is the greatest act of love and duty (dharma) of the community. Thus, keeping in mind that it is community duty, the Forum for India Community Services (FICS), was recently formed in Southern California.

FFICS is a non-profit volunteer run charitable Social and Community Welfare organization dedicated to the social needs of the Indian community. It is designed as a social network in the Community to help the community to get the community involved.

The recent census project the Asian Indian population to be around 1% of the US population. A significant part of the population living in big cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Dallas and New York. It also signifies an increasing population of the elderly who need personal and emotional, care and support in several areas such as healthcare, law & immigration, recreation and above all their extended family.

Our youngsters caught in the wheels of work and busy schedules need mental and physical relaxation. They are mostly unprepared to face an unexpected loss and bereavement and need counseling and emotional support.

Elders are a great source of strength in any community. However the lack of assistance in the areas of transportation, mobility, mix & mingle with other elders, have a relaxing recreation, offer their strengths & skills to the community, access to health care assistance, etc, make them feel "not belonging" to society. An inevitable situation that leaves the close family and the community to mourn the loss and it impacts the family financially and emotionally.

Dying is quite expensive and many times the family is unprepared for the expenses. Be it a rituals relating to wedding, child birth or that of death, the community does not have proper facilities that are appropriate for the rituals. All the religious parts of these functions are compromised for lack of such facilities.

Then scope of services the FFICS proposes to provide needed financial & emotional support to the needed families at the time of death of their loved ones and bereavement; create a facility for the families to perform the funeral and religious rituals. It also aims at providing advisement to the elderly in the Indian community on matters relating to health screening, healthcare and hospitalization, legal and immigration issues, insurance matters, a recreational & library facility for the elderly. Lastly FFICS proposes in establishing a social network to assist elderly in the community to become active in community activities.

To support the various activities, FFICS creates a number of support groups such as Funeral assistance group, Distress support group, Loss/Bereavement support group, Health/medical advisory group, Legal advisement group, Immigration advisory group, Elderly networking group, Insurance advisory group and Counseling group.

The membership is open to all residents in S. California and is voluntary. The Organization will run with the financial support of donors and sponsors. 100% of the member contribution will be utilized for Community services. All donations are tax deductible. The Organization needs volunteers in all area codes.

The executive Committee has Amrit Bhandari as the President, Dilip Butani as the executive vice-president, TV Krishnamurthy as the founder member, Malli Varanasi as the secretary, Shobana Nandan as the joint secretary, Mohan Kumar as the treasurer, Ramakrishna Rao as the joint treasurer. Padmini Iyer, Ramjibhai Patel, Babubhai Gandhi, Yogesh Alekal, Nitin Shah, Geeta Ram, Shankar Ram, Nime Durai, Ashok Durai and Keshalal Patel are the members. The Trust Board has Bhikhu Patel as the Chairman and R. Narayanaswami as the Co-Chairman.
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