On August 11, 2012 in the conference room of the International Institute of Akron, the formal transfer of responsibility from the outgoing to the incoming Executive Committee of the Bhutanese Community Association of Akron, Inc., took place. There were approximately 100 members and supporters in attendance. The prorgram was organized by the General Election Committee of 2012 under the chairmanship of Dhurva Rai and Mr. Purosotam Dhungana was master of ceremonies for this program.
Purosotam Dhungana, Master of Ceremonies
1 Welcome speech by Mr. N. B. Subba
2 Progress report for the 2012-2012 term by Mr. Bhim Dhungana, Secretary
3 Financial report for the 2010-2012 term by Mr. Goopal Lepcha, Treasurer
4 Transfer of BCAA property and assets by Dhruva Rai and Amber Subba
5 Experiences, observations and suggestions by Mr. Amber Subba, Past-
6 Plans and proposals for the 2012-2014 term by Mr. Bishnu Subba, President-
7 Speech by Ms. Diane Johnson, Executive Director of the International Institute of
8 Awading of certificates of appreciation to election volunteers by Sancha Raj
9 Speech by Dr. Terry Kuhn, Statutory Agent
10 Concluding remarks by Dhurva Rai
1. By-Law Amendment: We amended some by-laws in order to qualify BCAA for tax exempt status.
2. Tax-Exempt Status: With the help of Dr. Terry Kuhn and Dr. Naresh Laoti Subba, BCAA achieved Tax Exempt Status.
3. Honorary Membership Given: Honorary membership is given to Dr. Terry Kuhn for his outstanding contributions toward achieving the mission, aims, and objectives of the Association. This honor is given to individuals who have made an extraordinary contribution that is of lasting importance to the advancement of Bhutanese community.
4. Participation in Kent Community Dinner: As we know, our main goal is to to facilitate and promote the smooth transition and integration of the people of Bhutanese origin into the general population of the United States of America. So in order to increase brotherhood with other communities, we took part in Kent Community Dinner organized by Laura Mazur.
5. Opened BCAA Bank Account: With the help of Dr. Terry Kuhn, we opened a bank account for BCAA.
6. Grant Application: We wrote a local grant in collaboration with the International Institute to preserve our culture but it was not approved.
7. Citizenship Test Preparation Class for Non-Student Population: Due to the importance of gaining citizenship to maintain elderly and disability benefits, we have started a citizenship class to help those that may have trouble learning independently. We hope this will help the older generation to pass their exam when they reach the 5 year mark.
8. Native Language Class for Below Middle School Students: We attempted to start a native language class for our youth however the class stopped due to minimum participation. There was also a financial barrier caused by the rejection of a grant application. We hope that this class can be revived in the future.
9. Bhutanese Cultural Program: In order to preserve our culture and community identitiy we have started celebrating festivals as one community. Not only does it keep our group cohesive but also shows the larger community a taste of our culture. This event also allows us to express appreciation by inviting businesses that employ members of our community to the program.
10. Appreciation Letter to Helpers and Employers: As a growing small community in Akron, we feel that we should appreciate help provided by every individual, employer, organization and Hospital. So we provide certificates of appreciation to anyone who helps our community, every employer who provides employment to our people, every organization who helps our people and every hospital who provides health care to our people, and every school that educates our children.
11. Elderly Pot-Luck Program: Since coming to America our elderly sometimes feel isolated due to their lack of language and sometimes far distances from other elderly people. So, we started a yearly potluck outing where all those over 50 can gather and spend time. We were not able to do more frequently due to time and location constraints, however we hope this program can be expanded in the future.
12. Funeral Cost Collection: We started a program for the community as a whole to help with final expenses in the event that a member of the Akron community dies. We have been collecting $10 from each household each time. We have also decided not to collect for families whose relatives died outside of the BCAA jurisdiction.
13. Participation in Soccer Tournament: To encourage our youth and preserve our sportsmanship we sent our youth for soccer tournament in Atlanta Georgia.
14. Buying Soccer Uniforms: We used a donation from Donna Early to buy uniforms for our youth soccer team. The youth much appreciated her generosity.
15. Dancers Participated in Local Events: Our dancers performed at different local events to showcase our art and culture to the greater community.
16. Lending support to programs brought by other entities: We gave support to the community garden program brought by Tuk Rai, a community member. We also supported the sewing program brought by Manju Rostogi of Sewa International which helped our women learn a skill.
17. Support to WoveninExile: We also have support to women in exile program brought by Mr. and Miss Terry Kuhn which is producing traditional handbags. We took those bags to the ORR in Washington D. C. consultation where the group gained necessary exposure to other communities.
18. House Buying Seminar: We invite realtor to give seminar to our people about how to buy houses. Alicia Rauckhort, a realtor with Twin Oaks Realty in Akron, presented a workshop which was well attended.
19. Consultation on Grant Writing: We invite Goran Debelnogich, a personal friend of Bhutanese refugees, to discuss possible future efforts that could help BCAA members. Because of this relationship and extensive background with grants and refugee resettlement, he was able to suggest how BCAA might be leveraged to acquire grants and expand its influence to help its refugee members.
20. Window Insulation Workshop: BCAA invited Francis Weng to conduct a workshop on how to insulate windows for winter weather. He donated his Sunday to explain to us how cold air comes in through windows and how to seal them to prevent heat loss.
21. Community Center: Having thought of the importance of Community Center, BCAA Created a Task Force Committee to find a suitable community center. The committee decided that buying or building a Community Center would be better than renting. We have paused progress on this project until we find a possible funding source.
22. Built a relationship with the nearby Catholic Church: The president of BCAA has made a connection with the church near IIA and the nucleus of the Bhutanese Community. They agreed to provide space to conduct any type of program for free.
23. Created Association’s Stamp and Letter Pads: We created a stamp and letter pads for the Association.
24. Participation in Growing Hope Food Summit: BCAA board and members attended the Growing Hope Food Summit, a conference addressing the lack of affordable and accessible healthy foods in a city environment. From this summit we were further inspired to pursue community gardening and made connections with other communities with similar goals.
25. Access to Care Enrollment/Applying for Government Housing/SSI Application: We helped those families who did not have medical insurance to apply for the Access to Care Program, for which around 12 individuals have been approved so far. We have also helped needy families apply for Section 8 housing and the disabled apply for SSI.
26. Donation Collection and Distribution: We have also helped to collect and distribute donations from various sources to needy families. Sources include Francis Weng, Goran Deblenogich, Manju Rastogi and several other sources.
27. Meeting with Akron Police: After a recent murder of a community member, we arranged a meeting that included about 11 police officers, several representatives from the International Institute of Akron, and about 100 community members to discuss safety and to learn how the police were conducting their investigation.
Gopal Lepcha, Treasurer
The current balance in the BCAA checking account is $693.83. This came primarily from dues and some donations. Treasurer Gopal gave a detailed report on all of the transactions for the past two years.
Assets of BCAA
Bishnu Subba and Dhurva Rai
Transferring BCAA Assets
Durva Rai (center) is reading the BCAA assets list to the assembly before Amber Subba conveyed the list to Bishnu Subba (left). Assets consisted of office supplies, form letters, citizenship preparatin materials, banking materials, BCAA Banner, and some miscellaneous kitchen supplies. The supplies had a total estimated value of $1,077.22.
President Subba suggested that the new Executive Committee create a annual two-year calendar and a volunteer group to help new arrivals with shopping, paperwork, appliances, and plumbing. He indicated that communication among members was very challenging and new ways of communicating needed to be developed. He advised the new committee to keep documentation of everything. He said that people think that when they elect officerrs, the officers will do everything but they really need help. He said that it is important to apply for grants and other funds. The past committee discussed finding or creating a community center, but learned that would take a lot of money. He said that it is really important that all of the new officers attend all of the meeting and participate. officers need to spend.
Past-President Subba said that members’ responsibilities do not end at the ballot box. Members must continue to support and help the officers rather than just complain. They should use Google Groups email to provide help rather than carry on critical dialog becasue the message last forever.
President-Elect Bishnu Subba Giving Speech
At his inaugural speech, President-Elect gave a speech in which he outline many of the agendas he hopes to pursue in the next two years.
These ranged from enhancing communication with members, to rather ambitious ideas for the future. Here is a list of some of what he said.
1 Provide communication to all community members, 2 Keep track of the Bhutanese refugee population with monthly updates, 3 Have treasurer publish financies on the BCAA website, 4 Create programs for youth involvement in sports and culture, 5
Encourage youth to volunteer and recognize them with cetificates of participation, 6 Continue Advisory Board, 7 Conduct Nepali language class so young people understand native culture and language, 8 Continue citizenship class, 9 Get help from local organizations and the International Institute, 10 Help people get driver’s licenses, 11 Help adults get General Education Diplomas and also help high school students apply for Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), 12 Help needy families in difficult situations, 13 Strive for increased grant writing, 14 Conduct General Meetings according to the BCAA Bylaws.
Diane Johnson, Executive Director,
International Institute of Akron
Ms. Diane Johnson complimented the Bhutanese refugees on creating their own association in such a short time. She said she was honored to be part of this ceremony, and she will continue helping.
Terry Kuhn, Statutory Agent for BCAA
Dr. Terry Kuhn commented that the Bhutanese refugees in Akron have come a long way in distance, time and culture — but, it will take three generations to become completely assimilated in the culture of the United States. He encouraged all community members to give suggestions to the officers, not just tell them what is wrong. Ask how you can help your association, and remember that BCAA and its officers are your community voice to the rest of society.
Dhruva Rai concluded the meeting by thanking all of those present and all those who volunteered with the General Election.
Dhruva Rai making concluding remarks
Diane Johnson (left), Natalya Mytareva,and Terry Kuhn (right) in front of BCAA Banner
Prakash Biswa getting certificate from Dr. Terry Kuhn
Reporting and Writing: Nilam Ghimirey
Writing: Terry Kuhn
Photography: Kailash Ghimirey
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