[Archived from May 22, 2009]
[by Shiela Steinman Wallace]
Since its inception, Jewish Family & Career Services’ MOSAIC (Multicultural Opportunities for Success and Achievement In our Community) Awards has been a crown jewel among events in the Jewish community, and this year’s dinner, held Tuesday, May 12 at the Henry Clay, continued that tradition.
Nearly 300 people turned out to honor five immigrants/refugees who have made Louisville their home and made a real difference in the quality of life here, and in many cases, elsewhere in the world.
Dr. Rajanathan Karalakulasingam, originally from Sri Lanka, founded a dialysis clinic in Bowling Green and expanded the service to other Kentucky communities. Building on his success, he soon began organizing medical missions to Kenya, Sri Lanka, Uganda, Mexico, Nigeria and other places. He focuses on making safe places to live, bringing clean water and creating opportunities for those who otherwise would have none.
He said this country offers so many opportunities that “the sky’s the limit” for an individual’s possibilities.
Sundeep Dronawat, originally from India, is a software and website developer and innovator who founded his own company but still finds time to work on projects for Habitat for Humanity and is an active member of the Hindu Temple of Kentucky. He attributed his success in Louisville to the tremendous community support he received for his education and his subsequent endeavors.
The United States admits more than one million immigrants every year, Dronawat pointed out, and he believes there is less racism and prejudice in this country than anywhere else in the world.
While Helen Lang was born in the U.S., her parents were Chinese immigrants. She came to Louisville in 1950 to play piano for the Louisville Orchestra and taught Chinese cooking on the side. She quickly recognized the need for greater support for multicultural activities in the city, and went on to found Crane House, which today is a hub of Asian cultural arts.
Lang’s passion for her work is evident, but she said an endeavor like Crane house also requires spirit and teamwork.
After immigrating to the United States from Argentina, Edgardo Mansilla knew firsthand that newcomers, especially those with limited English skills, face many challenges. To ensure Louisville’s newest citizens would have the hand up they need to succeed, he founded the Americana Center, which today is the largest resettlement agency in the city. He makes the center work by activating partnerships with other agencies and businesses.
All immigrants are here, he said, because they choose to make Louisville their hometown. Our diverse community benefits us all, and if we all work together, we can have a better life.
Dr. Arun Gadre, who made it to Louisville from India by way of Israel and the United Kingdom, is an internationally know Otolaryngologist, who lectures at venues around the world. He holds the Heuser Institute Endowed Chair of Otology and is an associate professor of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery and director of Otology and Neurotology at the University of Louisville. He has traveled to India to teach, tend to the poor and donate books and surgical instruments.
Having grown up in a Jewish home as “a member of the smallest Diaspora community in the world,” Dr. Gadre was please to be honored by a JFCS, which embodies Jewish principles in its work.
Two scholarships for deserving immigrant students were also presented that night. Dr. Gerald Temes, vice president of the Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s Foundation presented the Jeff and Phyllis Osbourn Scholarship to Richard Anane, an immigrant from Ghana who is studying to become a nurse practitioner while raising a three-year-old daughter as a single parent.
In Ghana, Anane worked for the Red Cross, and was a rescuer on the scene of a soccer game when a number of fans were trampled and is credited with saving several lives. His strong drive for education motivated him to come to this country, since he couldn’t afford to study in Ghana. In 2009, he was honored as the African American Scholar of Excellence by Jefferson Community and Technical College.
Anane expressed gratitude, saying the scholarship will help him achieve his dreams.
The Multicultural scholarship was presented to Zainab Awadelkarin, a student in graduate school at Spalding. She came to this country with just two suitcases. Today, because of her hard work, she has her own place, owns furniture and has an undergraduate degree. The scholarship will help her pursue a Masters in special education.
Jewish Hospital HealthCare Services and WLKY 32 were the title sponsors of the 2009 MOSAIC Awards, and WLKY anchor Rick Van Hoose was the Master of Ceremonies. The MOSAIC Award sponsor was Brown-Forman; and Patron sponsors were Appriss, Heaven Hill Distilleries, Inc., Norton Healthcare and Almost Family.
The evening’s honorary chairs were Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson, and the event chair was Djenita Pasic, a 2008 MOSAIC Award winner. Other event committee members were Terri Bass, Mary Cleary, Paulette Dubofsky, Debbie Friedman, Sandi Friedson, Jan Glaubinger, Jay Klempner, Susan Klempner, Yung Nguyen, Claudia Peralta-Mudd, Nancy Robenson, Marsha Roth, Diane Tobin, Geoff Verderosa and Stephi Wolff.
Rabbi Gaylia Rooks led the Hamotzi. Jay Klempner is JFCS’ president and Judy Freundlich Tiell is JFCS’ executive director. Beverly Bromley, JFCS’ director of development coordinated the event.