NEW YORK (TIP): India Association of Long Island (IALI) one of the largest organizations serving the Indian community on Long Island held the inauguration of office-bearers for the year 2014 on January 12. The inauguration held at the Nassau County Legislature on Long Island was attended by over 300 people comprising of IALI members, past presidents, dignitaries and community leaders The Oath of office was administered by Nassau County Legislature Presiding Officer Norma Gonzalez to the four ranking officers of the Association – President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer.
Mike Venditto, Nassau County legislator swore in Members-at-Large, Standing Committees, Chairs and Co-Chairs. It was the 26th Installation function. The 2000 member strong India Association of Long Island is more than 30 years old. It had a humble beginning when the idea occurred to a small band of pioneering individuals who had made Long Island their home more than 30 years ago to forge a bond whereby the extrinsic beauty, culture, history, festivals, food and arts & crafts of India aptly showcased could “foster a better understanding of the diversity and the rich culture of the Indian subcontinent to Indians and the larger community of Long Island”, as IALI’s mission statement expresses. There were bridges to be built and crossed and the need to assimilate as new immigrants in the new homeland which was America.
This then became the creed and mission statement of the newly formed not-for-profit India Association of Long Island. It was the 1970s and Indians back then had mostly just started to trickle in and arrive on Long Island shores. They were a mix of different languages and varied geographical locations, India being the vast sub-continent that it is, and in some ways impossible to define. There was a need to be met for unity and of a broad-based organization uniting Indians from all regions – east, west, north, south and central – however dissimilar their origins, customs, languages and practices. The dedication and commitment of those few paid off. A foundation was laid which was carried through. decades. Membership grew. A fledgling Association weathering daunting obstacles and hurdles took shape and became much more sizeable and visible in the fluidity of its expanding reach and scope. The rest as they say is history.
Today IALI has many year-long signature events outstandingly and energetically showcased – Indiafest, Family Picnic, Valentine’s Dinner & Dance / Holi Festival, Health Camps, Diwali, Annual Fund-Raising Dinner and more – besides its regular monthly programs for Women, Seniors and Youth. All of these are looking to expand. Music, song and dance have found a voice. Sports has been added to the mix so that tennis and particularly the ever popular game of cricket may be loudly encouraged and kept alive among the youth. IALI’s collaborative efforts of teaming up with Nassau and Suffolk Counties through local universities or at Eisenhower Park to celebrate cultural diversity at Asian Summer Festivals is widely received. IALI’s on-going relationships with many other organizations such as National Indo-American Association for Senior Citizens (NIAASC), Association of Indians in America (AIA), Federation of Indians in America (FIA), Indian American Forum (IAF), India Day Parade (IDPUSA) and many others is active.
Many of IALI’s well known members and leaders have gone on to staying in the forefront in other noteworthy organizations such as American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) and Nargis Dutt Memorial Foundation (NDMF) besides political organizations. IALI’s Annual Food Drive and donations to Interfaith Nutrition Network (INN) which supports soup kitchens and provides shelters for the homeless on Long Island and to Rotacare is in its 18th year of continued promise receiving robust support from the community at large to be able to give back to the community.
The development of an India Center where the richness of our Indian heritage may be maintained and displayed and relegated for posterity is on the table and one of the main projects awaiting fruition for this current year 2014. The Indian community on Long Island has certainly come a long way. With the India Association of Long Island (IALI) this journey has taken exciting strides and could go much further. It is a journey which once embarked upon continues to this day. “Accomplishments have been met through commitment, hard work, endeavors of the many and diligence on the part of its multitude of members and of the leadership. However, the journey is never at an end till goals are met, challenges overcome and ports of call are reached. The journey endures”, says Rekha Valliappan, the dynamic General Secretary of IALI.