On Tuesday, April 15, Apna Ghar will celebrate its annual Volunteer Appreciation Event. There’s still time to RSVP; see details here.
To highlight the importance of volunteers to all that we do, we sat down for a Q&A with loyal volunteer Syed Rizvi. Syed, 42, is a technology director who lives in Avondale with his wife and son, 12-year-old Nicholas. Syed and Nicholas have volunteered at the Stride Against Violence 5K Run/Walk for the last several years (3 or 4 so far, they don’t count).
Q. How did you end up volunteering with Apna Ghar?
A. I have an Indian background, and I was aware that Apna Ghar started with the intention of helping women of Asian descent. I felt this was an organization I could relate to more closely than other volunteer work I had done. I didn’t have the emotional connection to the other charities. With Apna Ghar, the organizers came from the same culture I did, helping those with the same issues I had experienced firsthand.
Q. Why bring your son along?
A. As his father, it’s my responsibility to be a good role model to him. I’m trying to raise him to one day be a good man, a good husband, a good father and to have empathy for others.
Q. Do you talk to Nicholas about violence against women?
A. My son is very aware of how my father treated my mother as well as my brother, my sister and me. He was emotionally and physically and verbally abusive. It is very clear to my son how I feel about cowards who treat women as anything less than equal.
Q. What does volunteering at the 5K entail?
A. I try to get to the walk early and leave late to make sure I do as much as I can. I’m a bit stronger, so I can help set up and move heavier stuff around. Last year I got to work the food tent where we passed out water and fruit. I try to do whatever is needed. It’s very rewarding for me because there is so much important work that the people in the organization do. If I can help out with the basic things, it will allow them more time and energy to do more important work.
Q. What effect do you think the experience has had on Nicholas?
A. About a month ago, he offered to volunteer for an organization that sends hand-packed meals specifically formulated for malnourished children to be shipped to nearly 70 countries around the world. He asked me if I would join him. Obviously I had to say yes, to make up for all the early mornings he came with me. It’s great that he’s coming up with his own ideas and desire to help.
Q. Did you feel proud?
A. Yes. I am, without any doubt, the luckiest father in the world.
What sounds better than eating a lot of delicious food for an important cause? If you said, “nothing,” we have good news: Apna Ghar’s annual opportunity to do just that is coming up soon.
This year’s Taste for Life, which supports Apna Ghar’s work for women and children whose lives have been affected by domestic violence, is Thursday, May 1 at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St.
The featured chef is pastry chef Gale Gand (you know her from TV), and the featured speaker is Ann Mukherjee, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of Frito-Lay North America.
Now, what can you eat once you get there?
Hungry yet? Check out your ticket options, and we hope to see you there.