Although she works secularly and on a full-time basis, Bharati Kemraj is committed to placing her heart and soul into two organizations that aim to improve the quality of life for youths and others in her community through various activities, events and awareness programs.
She founded the Bharati Foundation at the Vishnu Mandir in the Borough of the Bronx and the Bharati Dance Academy just a few years ago. The Foundation, she explained, is dedicated to connecting the right resources to those in need. In order to accomplish this, it teams with various individuals, organizations and city agencies to host events such as cultural engagements, interfaith discussions, school supplies giveaways, domestic violence and cancer empowerment, meal giveaways and much more. At least one event is hosted every month and is free to all.
Apart from these, Bharati does Bollywood dances, workouts and henna art designs for youths, seniors and cancer survivors. All of this, she says, is meant to relieve stress and bring smiles to the faces of the recipients. Bharati shared that while her desire to help those in need has been inspired by her family, it has also been greatly influenced and shaped by the teachings of Hinduism.
“My religion motivates me to help others by the mere fact that Hinduism is built on years and years of service above self and a way of life with respect for all. My charity and entrepreneurial mind-set and philanthropy work keeps me grounded and aware of the needs in the world. We can only improve quality of life if we give access to the right resources for those who have and those who need,” she said.
Speaking of some of the positive outcomes that her events have garnered, Bharati brought attention to the Connecting Borders Initiative which paved the way for over 200 youths to receive school supplies and some of them even received stipends in the amount of US$250 and US$500. This initiative started over four years ago as a token of encouragement to youths for their dedication to enhancing their learning and comes with collaborative efforts of several organizations, including the Community Board 9 (CB9), the Vishnu Mandir, 43rd Precinct Community Council, NYPD Housing PSA 8 and the Ridgewood Savings Bank.
Another noteworthy event is the Annual Thanksgiving To-Go Meal Giveaway where over 200-300 free meals are provided in takeaway trays along with water, juice and sweet treats and are given to members of the community that are on-the-go or are in need of something to eat.
Annually, for Diwali, Bharati said that the Vishnu Mandir celebrates with special sessions of Yagna, Puja and Bhajan singing along with a cultural show featuring prayers, dance and tassa performances, speeches and poems.
To celebrate Diwali this year, she said that the Vishnu Mandir will be hosting its 23rd Diwali Festival of Lights service and a Health Market to educate families on the importance of living a healthy lifestyle.
“Over 300 guests are expected to be in attendance for a vegetarian sit down dinner and cultural show,” she said.
Apart from her community charity and cultural work, Bharati was honored as one of 25 Most Influential Women of the Bronx by The Bronx Times Reporter Newspaper for her communications, media and journalism work; named in the City and State Magazine Under 40 Rising Stars for years of public service and working in government; recognized by the New York State Comptroller and City Council during Caribbean Heritage Month for community involvement and awarded by Affinity Health Plan during Women’s History Month for cultural exchange and involvement.