SEPTEMBER 2022
Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida

Florida News

First Observant Sikh Sworn in Florida's Seminole County Sheriff's Office

Story provided by Sikh Society of Central Florida

A 24-year-old Sikh man has been sworn-in as the first Sikh Deputy Sheriff in Seminole County. Gurpreet Singh wears his turban and beard on work with the Seminole County Sheriff's Office in Central Florida.

A native of India, Singh moved to United States in 2014 along with his family. He graduated from Law Enforcement Academy at Seminole State College. On Aug. 19, he was sworn in along with other 23 deputies by Sheriff Dennis Lemma.

"I am grateful for the opportunity to serve in Seminole County, while upholding my personal value system, and be aligned wholeheartedly with the Seminole County Sheriff's Office," said Singh. He started as an intern, was sponsored and continued to work and study toward becoming a deputy. Sikh Society of Central Florida is extremely proud of its youth congregation and firmly believes that all agencies, offices and organizations should represent and look like the community it serves.

POLK SCHOLASTIC CHESS REGISTRATION OPEN

Submitted by Polk Scholastic Chess Board

After a long pandemic break, registration is open to Polk County students for the 2022-23 season online at www.PolkScholasticChess.com Entry fee is $35 per student and application deadline is Sept 20. A $10 late fee will be applied to any application received after Sept.20. Last date for registration is Oct. 1. All tournaments will be the Bartow Civic Center, 2250 S.Floral Ave., Bartow.

The dates for the tournaments, all on Saturdays, are Oct. 15, Nov. 5, Dec. 3, Jan. 14, 2023 and tournament on March 4, 2023.

The Polk Scholastic Chess College Scholarship awards for 2021-22 season were recently announced by Arlene Gable, board member and secretary. Each year, two graduating seniors are recognized with scholarships toward their continuing education. Students need to have an extended length of participation with Polk Scholastic Chess, win the essay contest and must have made active contributions to their school and community.

The winners of this year’s Polk Scholastic Chess Scholarship are Niriham Shah (first place; $1,500 scholarship) from Bartow IB, and Jacob Cunningham (second place; $500 scholarship) from Lake Gibson Senior. Niriham Shah was recognized by the board for having played at the Polk Scholastic Chess tournaments for 14 years, from pre-k to 12th grade, and is awarded the
President's Award.

Polk Scholastic Chess is a nonprofit organization offering an extracurricular activity open to all students of Polk County, enrolled in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, including home-schooled students. It has been committed since over 32 years to “encouraging academic growth through the game of chess.

TAMPA YOUTH HOLDS BIKE DRIVE FOR NEEDY

Ananth Kutuva, an IB junior at Land O’ Lakes High School in the Tampa Bay area, is an avid mountain biker who enjoys tinkering with bikes and has been volunteering since ninth grade at WellBuilt Bikes.

In partnership with WellBuilt, Ananth is conducting a bike drive to collect used bikes in any condition that will be refurbished and given to the needy. He believes the drive will directly benefit the community as he witnesses the joy of “Earn-A-Bikers” during his volunteer shifts at WellBuilt Bikes. As of Aug. 19, he has collected 55 bikes (and counting).

WellBuilt Bikes is a non-profit bike shop that sells refurbished bikes at affordable prices and invests the sales revenue into the Earn-A-Bike program so those with little to no money can access and own one.

For information about WellBuilt Bikes, visit https://www.bikeshoptampa.com/https://www.bikeshoptampa.com/ To donate used bikes, contact ananthkutuva@gmail.com or call (813) 701-7870.

GUARDIAN AD LITEM VOLUNTEER – A GIFT TO CHILDREN IN FOSTER CARE

By RUKMINI POTDAR

The onset of the festivities for Lord Ganesh brings to mind how Lokmanya Tilak transformed this popular festival into one of community cohesion. In the United States, we celebrate this festival with special activities that strengthen our bonds with each other. But what would Ganeshji, the beloved of all, especially children, have us give back to this country that has given us so much? Volunteering as a Guardian ad Litem for children in foster care would be his gift to our local community! There are currently more than 3,000 children in foster care in Hillsborough County alone.

The Florida Guardian ad Litem Office represents abused, abandoned and neglected children in the courtroom and the community. Through the collaboration of a multidisciplinary team that includes a Guardian ad Litem attorney, a trained volunteer and a certified child advocate manager, our team provides quality legal representation for abused, neglected, and abandoned children while assisting the child in expressing their needs and wishes. Our unique approach allows us to support the whole child, addressing their physical, educational, mental, emotional, social, and legal needs.

I started this journey five years ago as a volunteer for Florida Guardian ad Litem. I was in between jobs and recently moved to Tampa from upstate New York. When I look back now on how this experience has significantly changed me, I am reminded of Mahatma Gandhi’s quote: “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others!” Guardian ad Litem volunteers are from various backgrounds and careers and share an average of 10-15 hours per month of their time. No experience is needed and all training is provided.

For more information about this opportunity, call Rukmini Potdar at (813) 363-9780 or visit www.guardianadlitem.org

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