WORCESTER, MA—India Society of Worcester, one of the oldest Indian-American organizations that also built the region’s first and the only Indian Center, has launched a campaign to expand its existing facility by 4,000 square feet, ISW officials said.
“We are starting permitting in January and targeting ground breaking in April. We are hoping to complete major construction by end of the year /early next year (2020),” ISW President Ashish Cowlagi told INDIA New England News.
The estimated cost of the expansion, which will double the size of the facility to 8,000 square feet, is about $1.4 million, and the group has already received pledges for $700,000. ISW India Center is located at 152 Main Street in Shrewsbury, MA.
” For the last several weeks, the fundraising committee has been in a pre-capital Campaign,” said Sanjay Shah, Chairperson of the Fundraising Committee. “Several of our members have already approached us with generous pledges which has given the campaign a healthy start. We have a goal of raising $1 million from our community, and we have gotten pledges for over $700,000.”
With this planned expansion, India Center will be a community center, a hub where the Indian American community congregates, and a foundation for India Society’s community engagement efforts for the community at large.
“We envision multiple activities with diverse age groups, both scheduled and spontaneous take place at the same time, giving the community the ability to strengthen its network,” said Cowlagi. “This is a culmination of about 5 years of work. When the society turned 50 years old in 2013 we embarked on a strategic plan to grow our activities and community outreach. This expansion project will be a capstone of that strategy.”
Rajiv Dayal, former ISW president and chair of the building expansion committee, said that ISW offers a wide range of activities, including IYG – a unique Youth Leadership program, Crisis Intervention program, a weekly Free health stop as well as a networking program for seniors.
“With these programs, ISW has become a respected organization not just in the Indian community but within the wider American community in the region. The current facility will become a hub for these activities and a focal point for the society’s efforts to integrate with the wider community,” Mr. Dayal said. “”ISW had a very active language and cultural school with more than 200 students. Due to lack of space we have been forced to spread out classes over two days. The expansion of the facilities would give us the ability to hold the school on the same day and add activities and events for other demographics of the community.”
Here are the planned expansion features and activities:
The center will feature an expanded welcoming atrium. which will become a showcase for Indian culture. Artifacts and handicrafts will offer visitors an opportunity to learn about the rich cultural heritage. This space also becomes the hub where families and friends meet as each member scatters throughout the center to engage in various activities.
The expanded center will allow the language and cultural school to run on a single day – with a joint assembly and common cultural activities that will foster inter-lingual and cross-cultural exchanges. We also envisage an expanded portfolio of education activities for children including STEM, public speaking and personality development & career development programs.
India Youth group will be able to further consolidate its mission of personality development and community engagement for youth aged 12 –18. Dedicated spaces, available games and sports facilities will enable the India society to become a hub for unscheduled meetups and foster building of a peer network that will stay with them for life.
A set of sports facilities will offer room for popular outdoor sports that will be targeted to many age groups. These include a volleyball and badminton court.
A dedicated space for seniors to enjoy a game of cards, a board game, read a magazine, watch a movie or just catch up with friends over a beverage.
A new dedicated office space with regulatory compliant storage, will provide a platform for the crisis committee to increase the amount of services that we are able to offer.
Free Health Stop
The long running free health stop will also have dedicated space with regulatory compliant storage for medical records and equipment. The expanded space will also allow the health stop to increase the number of patients seen.
Yoga, meditation and other wellness related programs on a regular schedule.
Activities for Young families
ISW envision growing the portfolio of activities to include programs targeted at families with very young children. There is an under-served need to provide a networking and community for young mothers with pre-school children including some early childhood programs.
Another underserved need in the local community is Professional development and networking activities for working professionals and entrepreneurs. The India Society is currently looking into expanding partnerships with other organizations to enhance programming in this space including Seminars, networking events and career counselling.
Arts and Crafts, Performing Arts
The flexible spaces will allow partnering with local teachers to offer spaces for music, dance and arts education. One of the rooms will feature sinks and facilities for supporting activities such as painting, sculpting, robotics etc.
The outdoor courtyard will offer a connected outdoor space that can be used as overflow for larger events in good weather
About the Building
- A beautiful new expanded entrance with cathedral ceilings will become the new entrance space, called the India Pavilion
- Existing kitchen will be moved to an expanded kitchen.
- An adjoining storage room will provide storage for spare tables and chairs from the current main hall
- The main community center wing will feature 10 rooms, with 12-foot ceilings and configurable partition walls that will provide flexibility of configuration for events.
- Rooms will be designed for operational needs including storage & AV needs.
- Outdoor courtyard will offer overflow for main events
- Outdoor sports area featuring Volleyball & badminton courts.