Each spring for nearly 30 years, the Hindu Community & Cultural Center hosts a celebratory event during which dozens of non-profit organizations receive grants as part of the center's Grant in Aid program.

"So many parts of the ceremony were inspirational to me: the sense of community, the wonderful musical and dance performances by youth groups, the delicious food and almond milk, plus visiting the beautiful temple," said recipient Brenda Kusler. "All served to make a lasting memory of love shared widely."

The Grant in Aid Ceremony took place on April 2nd at the Hindu Community & Cultural Center (HCCC) located on Arrowhead Avenue in Livermore's Springtown neighborhood.

"It was my first visit to the HCCC," said Kusler, who accepted a grant for Fertile GroundWorks, a nonprofit that provides sustainable-gardening education designed to empower individuals to grow food for themselves and others, including local food pantries. "I was amazed to learn about all the great things the HCCC is doing for so many people."

This year, $35,000 was granted to 45 organizations. A representative from each spoke briefly about their organization's mission and how the grant will help them fulfill it.

"Our grant will be used for training 150 students in Braille and computer skills," said G. S. Satya, a volunteer with the Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled. "Being in the company of other non-profit organizations and noble souls serving society was my favorite memory, along with seeing 12-year-old Sahiti Malireddy who forgoes her birthday celebrations to instead donate that money to social causes . . . a junior Malala in the making!"

The HCCC's Human Services Committee, which facilitates the Grant in Aid program, acts on the belief that service to mankind is service to God.

"Since we can't reach everyone everywhere, we believe giving to organizations that touch humanity is the best way to reach out to the community at large," said Chairperson Anand Gundu.

The committee's reach includes a wide range of human needs, with a focus on those providing food, shelter, health and education.

"Tri-Valley Haven creates homes free from abuse," said Director of Sexual Assault and Counseling Christine Dillman. "Our grant will be used to facilitate 'A Window Between Worlds' workshops which utilize art to help survivors heal from trauma in a safe and accessible way. It was wonderful to see how much the HCCC is doing to create a safe and cared-for community."

More than 150 people attended the ceremony that included lunch, a tour of the Shiva Vishnu Temple, and performances of Odissi, a classical form of dance from India.

"My favorite part was the beautiful dancing and colorful traditional dresses," said Lynn Monica, who accepted a grant for Sunflower Hill, a local nonprofit dedicated to providing residential options and programs for individuals with developmental disabilities. "We are extremely honored and grateful to the Hindu Community and Culture Center's support. Last year's grant was critical to helping us purchase tools and materials required to start our garden. This year's will be used to develop and expand the work we are doing to provide special-needs horticultural programs and growing produce to donate to low-income families."

Another recipient, TurningWheels for Kids, provides new bicycles to underserved youth, and offers free bike-repair clinics to keep kids riding.

"I'd like to thank members of the HCCC for supporting our work. Their generous grant will enable us to buy bikes that will make a difference in the lives of the young people we serve," said Tri-Valley Co-chair Cathryn Griggs. "Receiving a brand new bike can be life changing. The kids we serve often make do with hand-me-down clothes and toys. To be given a shiny, new bike builds pride and self esteem, and allows young people to get to school on time, enjoy riding with friends, make healthy choices, be on an even playing field with peers, and even to get a job."

Grant in Aid is one of several outreach programs which include free health screenings, bone-marrow donor registration, canned food drives, and yoga and meditation classes.

"What a great bunch of people I found there!" said Kusler. "Their gifts truly help make our community and world a better place to live. The ceremony also gave me an opportunity to meet many wonderful people who toil to fill a wide array of needs within our community. I left feeling rejuvenated and inspired."

To learn more, visit www.livermoretemple.org.