Over sixty years ago, India’s Founding Fathers asked all Indians to respect the national symbols of India, to cherish its heritage and preserve its composite culture (Constitution Part IV-A). To honor the importance of those ideals, a small group of Indian Americans in the San Francisco Bay Area (all successful entrepreneurs) decided to create a broad-based, inclusive, Community Center. Its mission would be to preserve the culture, values, and heritage of India for future generations based on the vision and ideals of the Founding Fathers of India.
India Community Center was conceived as a place where every generation of the Indian Diaspora could find comfort in various facets of their culture, preserve and practice unique traditions, and celebrate festivals and social milestones in a welcoming environment. It was also designed to be a center where people of other cultures can explore and experience Indian traditions and values.
In addition to cherishing our heritage, ICC founders also decided that promoting brotherhood and fraternity in the spirit of the constitution would be even more important in a distant land. So uniting the diverse community also became one of ICC’s goals. And finally, incorporating community service as an essential pillar of this center was considered vital to living up to traditional Indian values. Thus came into being our mission of UNITE. SERVE. CELEBRATE
India Community Center (ICC) opened its first facility in February 2003 with the efforts of the Godhwani brothers, Anil and Gautam, first generation Indian Americans and successful entrepreneurs, who created ICC as a non-profit organization dedicated to serving the Indian American and Greater Bay Area community. ICC is a non-religious and non-political organization with a goal to unite, serve and celebrate Indian culture in the community.
Talat Hasan served as the first Chairperson of the Board of Trustees, Anil Godhwani served as the first President of the Board of Directors and Naren Bakshi, who created the first ICC in the U.S. in Cleveland in the 1960s, was the first Adviser and guided the founders on the early direction. They were joined by several successful, passionate community members including Kanwal Rekhi, Sheena Vaidyanathan, Bala Joshi and Kailash Joshi who worked full time for several years to establish ICC.
ICC is financially supported through membership fees and community donations. It has also received corporate, foundation and government funding. Today it is the largest Indian American community center in North America. Its 38,000 sq. ft. facility in Milpitas, California, and an 10,000 sq. ft. Table Tennis Center serve the entire Bay Area with a professional staff and hundreds of volunteers providing a wide range of programs and services. ICC conducts several hundred programs annually to serve the community.
BROAD-BASED AND INCLUSIVE ENGAGEMENT
The degree and manner in which people of Indian origin will link with their country of origin will depend on their retaining their Indian identity and heritage. The Center, by creating a sense of community and its various programs, plays that role. However, most importantly it does so by strengthening a broad and inclusive Indian identity rather than the narrower ones that many religious and regional centers do. Some examples of ICC’s programs are:
PROGRAMS AND SERVICES
ICC has a significant focus on Community service such as free Legal, Medical, and Career clinics, and extensive Senior programs. ICC has also launched a program for Teens to organize and run community service projects.
At the same time ICC also offers a large number of programs for the community, including Bollywood Dance, Yoga, Fitness, Table Tennis, Language classes, GMAT, Karaoke, Music, Parent & Me, Kids’ Summer Camps, Carrom, and much, much more.
The ICC facility in Milpitas has multiple places for people to relax and meet others, enjoy a meal in the Café, browse through Indian papers and magazines, play billiards, cards, chess or carrom and enjoy the feeling of shared community. It also offers a modern, full-scale Fitness Center featuring over 60 Cardio and Weight machines, Personal Trainers and 35+ fitness classes each week, including Tai-Chi, Bollywood Aerobics, Yoga, Spinning, and more. In addition, our facilities include a state-of-the-art Banquet Center and Auditorium which includes the latest multimedia equipment. The Malavalli auditorium has become the preferred venue for community concerts, fundraisers, weddings, corporate meetings and conferences. It is also the place visiting Indian dignitaries and leaders come to meet the Indian community in the Bay Area. The center is open 7 days a week.
Since its founding in 2003, ICC has grown significantly in just about every area: space, programs, budget, donations, usage etc. Here are some examples of our growth:
- Space from 10K sq.ft. to 48K sq.ft. plus Cupertino Senior Center
- Annual Budget from $500K to $3.0M in 2010
- Camps: From less than 50 kids to 1400 kids in 2010
- Seniors: From 2 days a week, to 5 days in Milpitas and 3 days in Cupertino
- Auditorium events: From 30 in 2007 to over 100 in 2010
- Weekly Newsletter Readership: From less than 500 to over 15,000 in 2010
- Staff: From 10 to 20 in 2010
- Volunteers: From 20 to over 100 in 2010 are available on request.