Tej Gundavelli-Founder-Blog

Let us be thankful…

While browsing through the San Jose Mercury news, I came across an article that brought out the destitute state of our Silicon Valley (http://tinyurl.com/m8m7vrf). The article details the lives of homeless individuals as they sleep aboard VTA Bus #22. The buses of route 22, the only 24 hour bus route in the Silicon Valley, have begun serving as shelter for many of San Jose’s homeless as it shuttles through the Eastridge Transit Center and the Palo Alto Transit Center.

The article mentions about a single father and his ten-year old daughter. The dad mentioned "She's managing, much better than I ever expected. I have no idea how she's doing it. This is one of her best years so far in school."

The child’s story is quite heartwarming, and we must keep brave children and parents such as those in our thoughts and prayers. It takes courage and tenacity to traverse the cold streets late at night and use a bus just to have a roof to sleep under.

As times get tough for those less fortunate, we should give thanks for our well-being this holiday season. Let us be thankful for the warmth and stability that our house provides. Let us be thankful for the food that is brought on our table. Let us be thankful for the education that helped achieve a prosperous lifestyle.

Let us be thankful, but let us not idle and instead think about how we can help others in need. Help us keep some feet warm this cold winter.

This holiday season, the Touchalife Foundation is running a Socks drive for helping homeless high school students. Please join our drive with your d nations and make it yours. All of your donations will go to buying the socks for the season!

Post Date : November 18, 2013

Towards Touching and Transforming Lives

When we created the Touch-A-Life Foundation, we asked multiple school districts to tell us about any homeless students who needed assistance.

We received many statistics about the number of students in need in districts such as San Ramon, the East Side Union High School District and the Santa Clara County school districts.

One donation request from a counselor trying to help a student stood out. This students’ parents divorced a few years ago and recently got back together, a very emotionally challenging process. Her family has had difficulty affording rent and has been forced to live with other family members off and on since she was in elementary school. Last year, the student barely had the means to pay for the BART to get to and from school.

For part of last year the student lived with her grandparents and then with her sister, who is a single mom. We sent her a gift card to help buy basic supplies such as clothes, household items, and school supplies at the end of last school year.

But she and her family are still in need of assistance.

This story is just one example of what other homeless students are experiencing. It’s the story of how hard times are affecting children even in the prosperous Silicon Valley. Stories like these humble us and make us thankful for our circumstances. This organization was founded to turn the Bay Area into a place where students can graduate from high school and succeed without having to worry about their financial situation. Whether through a backpack, gift card, or sweater, the Touch-A-Life Foundation is here to offer a helping hand in any way possible.

Post Date : August 27, 2013

Launch of Touch-A-Life Foundation

Earlier this year, I attended a charity dinner ran by the Foundation for Excellence (ffe.org). The institution is dedicated to helping smart yet impoverished children in India. Their mission is to help these children escape the poverty cycle by giving them a fully paid scholarship to attend engineering and medical colleges.

At the dinner, I saw the many recipients of the scholarships or "FFE scholars" as they were called. They were people who ranked highly in their high school but did not have the money to pursue higher studies. During their speeches they talked about how FFE literally changed their lives. They are now engineers, pediatricians, surgeons in well-paying jobs in good technology companies and hospitals. They are able to provide better life for their future generations.

The one thing I specifically took back with me that day was the way each scholar talked about how they felt at the time that it was not fair that could not go to college like some of their classmates just because they are born in low income families. Hearing their speeches made me empathize with them, I too felt that it was not fair. Many of us born in well to do families take things for granted and do not realize how blessed we are getting basic things in life and in many cases much more than what we ask for. It inspired me to do my part to give back to the community.

I now have my own non-profit startup with my friends and family, Touch-A-Life Foundation. We help homeless and underprivileged students in the Silicon Valley. In the heart of this booming valley, just in East Side Union High, we have about 63 students just like me but homeless and still attending school daily. We strive every day to make a difference in the lives of these children and to inspire others to join us to touch many more in the years to come.