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Saree Nights event seeks to help Indian communities in need

Monica Smith Griffin
Brittany Timmons and Fr. Alphonse Gollapalli are lead organizers of the annual Saree Nights held in Norman, Oklahoma.


OKLAHOMA CITY – The Rev. Alphonse Gollapalli, a Roman Catholic priest from the coastal

city of Nellore, in southern India, has recently returned to the United States and will soon be

hosting the fourth Gollapalli Charitable Foundation “Saree Nights” event on Thursday, Oct. 13,

2011 at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Norman, Oklahoma.

 

Red Dirt Report asked Fr. Gollapalli, who just returned from India and is a visiting pastor at Our

Lady of Good Hope Church in Hope, Arkansas, will preside over the upcoming Saree Nights

event. Fr. Gollapalli had spent time as a priest at several parishes in Oklahoma in the 1990’s.

The Gollapalli Charitable Foundation has been awarded a $100,000 matching grant. The

grant expires June 2012, so all donations will be matched and are tax-deductible. Also all

administrative costs are paid for by the GCF’s corporate sponsor. All donations go directly to

approved projects and beneficiaries.

GCF mission is to end the cycle of poverty and raise the standard of living by fostering

community development, promoting income generating projects and providing educational

support. Projects include scholarships for nursing students, assistance to orphanages, clean water

projects and buffalo and goat rearing projects.

 

1.) RDR: What is the purpose of Saree Nights and how did you become involved?

Fr. Gollapalli: “Saree Nights is an event intended to familiarize the Gollapalli Charitable

Foundation to people of all walks of life.

During the program we welcome the guests with Indian Traditional outfits. The women get to

dress in a Saree and men get to wear Kurtha, traditionally worn with loose-fitting pajama.

All the invitees get to socialize while going through some exhibits, handouts, photos, Power

Point presentations, etc.., placed in the hall.

An exquisite South Indian dinner is served in which they get the taste of several food items

mostly favored by people of South India. While at dinner the organizers attempt to bring the

attention of the audience to the Gollapalli Charitable Foundation of its existence, purpose,

activities and invite them to become supporters.

This idea actually was conceived by Monica Griffin, the President of the Foundation basing on

the experience she had while visiting me in India. She was convinced that there are lots of areas

where the poor people in India are neglected and could be supported by generous contributors.

Hence the idea of Saree Nights evolved as a medium to bring this concept to people who have

the same kind of interest and group them and raise funds for the activities of the Foundation.”

 

2.) RDR: What has been accomplished in India and who is being assisted and where?

Fr. Gollapalli: “The Gollapalli Charitable Foundation is a recently established organization but

has achieved great results in a short time. Though the resources are fewer than we wish to have,

the funds we do have are utilized in the best way.

Until now our approach has been to achieve greater results with minimum resources. For

example, in a duration of three years we have supported the education of about 100 students

partially or entirely. Of these 60 are girls who have become certified nurses. Three hundred goats

and 50 water buffaloes were provided to at least 150 poor families. Twenty drinking water bore

wells and three overhead water storage tanks were constructed in at least 20 villages where poor

Dalit (oppressed) people live. We have established at least five sewing centers where hundreds

of women and young girls learn the sewing. We have already donated 100 sewing machines to

poor women.

Recently, we have undertaken sponsorship program for about 50 children which facilitates the

granting necessary funds towards the education of children from 1st grade to the high school.

The statistics mentioned here comprise the direct beneficiaries. But imagine the number of

indirect beneficiaries who will certainly be affected by these.”

 

3.) RDR: Is this strictly a Catholic or religious function or are you helping villagers of all faiths?

Fr. Gollapalli: “The Gollapalli Charitable Foundation is a secular organization in nature. It

accepts donations from persons of all faiths or no faith. It also reaches out to the poor people of

all faiths or no faith. In dispersing the funds the criteria followed is as follows: The beneficiaries

are poor that they are not able to help themselves to evolve from the vicious cycle of poverty;

priority is given to women and children as they are very vulnerable portion of the Indian society;

The activity undertaken must be oriented ultimately towards community development.

 

4.) RDR: What are some future projects the Saree Nights fundraiser is hoping to address?

Fr. Gollapalli: “All the above mentioned programs will continue. We are also dreaming of

establishing a nursing school of our own.”

 

5.) RDR: “Finally, is there anything I didn't think to ask? If so, please tell us how you would like

to conclude our exchange?”

Fr. Gollapalli: “The nature of the Gollapalli Charitable Foundation is pluralistic. This is to

say communities are involved in every aspect. A community of people are involved in raising

funds to help people of another community in dire need. We believe this way we will have well

attempted to share in the responsibility towards the development of a nation and world.”

 

Saree Nights will be held at 6:00 pm on Thursday, October 13th at St. Joseph’s Roman

Catholic Church. Tickets cost $75/person; $125/couple; $500/table (seats 8). For more

information or to attend the event please contact Brittany Timmons at 405-286-9326 or

btimmons@rsenergysolutions.com. All donations can be sent to The Gollapalli Charitable

Foundation 1219 Classen Drive, Oklahoma City, OK 73103

Copyright 2011 West Marie Media

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About the Author

Andrew W. Griffin

Andrew W. Griffin is the founder and editor of Red Dirt Report, based in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state.  Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics.  Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans.  Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points.  We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information.

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