About us

About us

Volunteers for Change is a not-for-profit organization set up in 2013 with a vision to create an emotionally connected world that is sensitive to human plight across the globe. We believe that the youth will drive the creation of this emotionally connected world. We look at the youth as future leaders whose ability to transform the local communities is much greater than those of any government or a private sector organization. We provide a platform for the global youth to lead the change in local communities around the world.

Our programs enable the volunteers to contribute their time, skills, energy and knowledge to solving community issues and challenges pertaining to:

  • Education
  • Child development (school children, street kids, orphans)
  • Women Empowerment
  • Elderly Support
  • Differently-abled empowerment
  • Tribal community development
  • Youth development
  • Healthcare
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Sports development

In the process of contributing to the local communities, our program participants get to understand the ground realities of various communities, their challenges and also the opportunities that could be tapped. We want these participants to translate their observations into innovative ideas and solutions for the communities.

We strive to give the participants a holistic experience wherein we expose them to the local culture, people, customs, foods, places to make their volunteering a highly meaningful, enjoyable and educational experience

We are very confident that the skills, experiences and knowledge that the participants acquire during our program would add value to them as human beings and as professionals.

Vision: World that is sensitive to the human plight and offers equitable opportunity for all to feel empowered and lead happy, productive lives

Mission: Offer life-changing volunteer programs which educate and inspire the volunteers to transform the local communities.

Founders

Volunteers For Change is led by Abhinav Tyagi and Sandeep Parmar with a cumulative experience of 30+ years in various industries and the non-profit sector.

Abhinav is passionate about enabling the youth to discover, explore and lead communities. This program has been conceptualized with that vision. Abhinav has been an active member of the Rotary Club (Singapore), National Service Scheme (India) and has participated in volunteering activities as part of Tony Robbins’ basket-brigade project. Abhinav has over 14 years of experience spanning engineering, investment banking and IT products & services. An engineering alum of Delhi College of Engineering (now DTU) and the National University of Singapore, Abhinav has traveled extensively across South East Asia, India, North America and to UK and the Czech Republic. Abhinav also holds an MBA (Dean’s list) from the University of Maine, Orono. He brings his academic, professional and volunteering credentials along with his international exposure, to the conceptualization of this program. [Note: Abhinav is making a pro bono contribution to this organization.]

 

Sandeep brings with him more than a decade’s rich experience in executing and managing social development programs for NGOs/INGOs. He has significant experience in coordinating projects with various Government Ministries and Departments, namely, Education, Panchayat & Rural Development, Health & Social Welfare, Human Resources & Development and Social Justice & Empowerment. He has successfully managed an international volunteering program - India Canada Youth Exchange - focused on HIV/AIDS and Community development. He holds BA in Public Administration and Sociology and a Masters in Social Work. He is also a founder director of Gunjan Organisation for Community Development, a leading NGO based in Dharamsala, India. He manages the overall operations of the program.

Operating Team

Carl Anderson

Sales & Marketing Manager

Born and brought up in Caribou, Maine, Carl loves working with people and helping them. His genuine  concern for people makes him the go-to guy. He has been the President of the student association at University of Maine. An avid Boston Celtics fan, Carl takes care of marketing and promotion of the volunteering program in US.

Amelia Mitchell-Storer

Corporate Relationships Manager

Amelia is the social bee of the team. She is adept at connecting with people from diverse backgrounds and understanding their point of views. A business graduate from the University of Maine, she is a fan of the New England Patriots and in her free time also loves to dress up in vintage costumes. An active promoter of Breast Cancer Awareness, she has been  participating in awareness programs relating to women health issues. Amelia manages relationships with current and past volunteers (alumni).

Kira Pilot

Program Quality Manager

A voracious reader, a dreamer at heart, Kira likes to live life to the full. She loves traveling to historical places. A big proponent of peace, she is against any kind of wars. Kira currently lives in Boston. Kira is actively involved with a variety of social action groups, such as, EqualityMaine, Veterans for Peace, and Food AND Medicine, and has a strong pulse for the kind of volunteer programs that excite the youth. She manages the quality of programs.

Anushka Tyagi

Program Enrolment and Volunteer Relationships Manager

A lover of nature, animals and basically any living entity, Anushka believes in environmental sustainability,  kindness towards animals and social justice for all humans. An ardent devotee of Lord Krishna, she believes in the concept of ‘Karma’ and is always eager to help the needy in whatever way she can. She manages the enrollment process for the program.

Sandeep Parmar

Operations Manager

Sandeep brings with him over a decade of rich experience in executing and managing social development programs for NGOs/INGOs. He has significant experience in coordinating projects with various Government Ministries and Departments, namely, Education, Panchayat & Rural Development, Health & Social Welfare, Human Resources & Development and Social Justice & Empowerment. He has successfully managed an international volunteering program - India Canada Youth Exchange - focused on HIV/AIDS and Community development. He holds BA in Public Administration and Sociology and a Masters in Social Work. He is also a founder director of Gunjan Organisation for Community Development, a leading NGO based in Dharamsala, India. He manages the overall operations of the program.

Program Advisors

Alyssa Yohman

Alyssa is a trusted friend and an avid lover of nature and travel. She has done numerous trekking trips within the Appalachians. An enthusiastic Boston Celtics fan, Alyssa was born and brought up in the beautiful state of Maine and has traveled extensively, across the central and latin America. She brings her valuable experiences to this program.

Deepa Chanana

Deepa is a true rebel and sees travel as a means of self expression and liberation. She has traveled to places far and wide where few would dare to travel. She has over 10 years experience planning, undertaking and managing camping, trekking, rafting and exploratory trips for students and adventure travelers from around the world. Deepa is also a formally trained radio jockey and a certified airlines reservation instructor for CMS, Apollo and Sabre.  Deepa has an MA in English from the Himachal University.

Dr. Harold Daniel

Harold is a specialist in Tourism Marketing and is currently the Director of the Center for Tourism Research and Outreach (CENTRO) at the University of Maine, Orono, USA. Given Maine’s similarity to the topography of Himachal Pradesh, Dr. Daniel’s advise and feedback with respect to mixing leisure with volunteering has been highly valuable.  His passion for community development and environment has given our program the energy that we needed. He is currently the Associate Professor of Marketing at the University of Maine, USA.

Jessica Lim

Jessica is a quintessential modern woman - independent, confident, multitalented and a successful juggler between her family life and professional commitments. She has been a successful entrepreneur, credited with introducing fine French cuisine to Singapore, by establishing a chain of French restaurants. She was also Mrs. Singapore 2008.

Dr. Kim McKeage

A super-enthusiastic higher-educator with over 20 years of experience in higher education, Kim's interests span marketing, consumer behavior, women and gender issues, sustainability and social responsibility. Her current research centers on women’s roles in food procurement, preparation, and production. She has led student trips to several countries in the Americas, Asia and Europe and is very passionate about community development. A Ph.D. in Business Administration with a Marketing concentration and a minor in Social Psychology from the University of Massachusetts - Amherst, Kim is currently Associate Professor at Hamline University, USA. Kim also has a Master of Arts in Women's Studies from Southern Connecticut State University.

Kristina Horner

A "rockstar" American Youtube vlogger, Kristina has a commendable fan following amongst the youth. She is passionate about helping children in America and around the world, especially in the areas of health and education. She has worked with an NGO "Save the Children", traveling with them to Guatemala, and with the Children’s Miracle Network.  Kristina has also been part of music compilations for charities that donated their proceeds to First Book, a Washington D.C. based non-profit organization that works towards getting "age appropriate" books into the hands of children from low-income families. An avid Harry Potter fan, she credits Harry Potter with her inclination towards community service.

Dr. Omesh Bharti

A physician and an epidemiologist by profession with an experience of 20+ years, he is a known authority on Public Health. He also has expertise in the areas of adolescent health, immunization, blood banking, role of NGOs in health and environment, telemedicine, hospital management and emergency and disaster management. He has authored 3 books in his field. He loves poetry and has authored 4 poetry books.

Dr. Pampa Mukherjee

A well known expert on "Environmental Politics" in India, Pampa is an Associate Professor in Political Science at Panjab University, Chandigarh. Her areas of expertise span public policy, developmental politics, environmental politics, politics of hill states and decentralized governance. Pampa has over 16 years experience in academia and has authored a vast number of research papers, articles, book chapters and reviews. She has authored "Facing Globality: Politics of Resistance, Relocation and Reinvention in India" published by Oxford University Press.
Pampa is a member of the "International Societies for Third Sector Research", The John Hopkins University, U.S.A., the "International Political Science Association (IPSA)" and "International Union for Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES)".

Rajeev Ahal

A socioeconomic development expert with 24+ years experience in policy formulation & implementation and NGO establishment & management at national, provincial and grassroots level in Asia and Africa, Rajeev is passionate about social inclusion. Currently a Vice President with a leading Indian financial services organization, Rajeev is majorly involved in the company's Social Inclusion Group. His team is working across India in various social catchments, touching about 500,000 lives. Throughout his career Rajeev has focused on pro-poor advocacy, community based natural resource management, bio-diversity, adult literacy, rural development and Himalayan development policy. He is credited with the development and establishment of first ever local government system in the country of Lesotho, Africa. Rajeev was the "Environmentalist of the Year" for Himachal Pradesh in 1992. Rajeev has authored 3 books, latest being `Lifescapes: Ten Close Encounters of a Life-kind’. He has a PG Diploma in International Programme for Organisational and Systems Development (IOSD) from Gestalt Institute, Cleveland, Ohio, USA.

Ram P. Mony

A true nature lover and a traveler at heart, Ram has spent more than half his life living in and exploring places in Europe (France) and Asia (India, Afghanistan, Nepal). Fluent in French, English, Hindi and Tamil, Ram has 10+ years experience in the field of water resources management (conservation, harvesting) and environmental protection. He has an M. Phil. in Scientific and Socioeconomic History of Water Management in South India, from the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris (France).

Dr. Raman Kannan

An experienced technology practitioner in Financial Services domain with over 25 years experience, Raman has held senior positions in several leading corporations in US. Based out of New York city, Raman is passionate about serving the rural communities in India, which brought him to his home country India, for couple of years, in 2010. His vision is to leverage technology for the social inclusion of the underprivileged. A PhD in Physics from West Virginia University and MS in Computer Science from the same university, Raman also holds an MBA from Columbia University (Columbia Business School).

Dr. Ramesh B. Munankami

Born in Lumbini zone, the birthplace of Lord Buddha, Ramesh has over 30 years of experience in the area of socioeconomic development in Asia. His areas of expertize span agricultural trade policy and programmes, value chain development, sustainable rural development, social mobilization, institution building, capacity development, rural-urban linkage (linking rural markets/products with domestic, regional and export markets) and poverty reduction. He has managed projects for UNDP, ADB, USAID, UN-Habitat, FAO, UNCTAD/WTO and the Nepal government. Amongst several challenging endeavors of which he has been part of, he is specially proud of establishing a dairy market in rural Afghanistan. Advisor to several of Nepal's highest planning bodies, he has received several awards from His Majesty the King of Nepal for his immense contribution to humanity. Ramesh is a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics (1981) from University of Missouri-Columbia, USA.

Rich Grant

Rich is a career adviser, active blogger and a writer with a record of creativity and innovation in higher education and business. He has significant experience working with school and college students from diverse social and cultural backgrounds.  Rich was the Director of Business Graduate Programs and Executive Education at the University of Maine in Orono.

Roma Banerjee

Roma is a social development expert with 27+ years experience working with domestic and international NGOs and corporates. She is adept at coordinating projects with various Government Ministries and Departments, such as Women and Child development, Health and Social Welfare, Human Resources and Development and Social Justice and Empowerment, Education, Panchyat and Rural Development. Roma is credited with providing leadership in developing innovative interventions in the areas of child rights/protection, HIV prevention, education and social inclusion. She is an M. Phil in Medical Sociology and an M.A. in Sociology from the Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Sadhu Singh Saar, Artiste

A painter by passion and an archaeologist by profession, 1936 born Sadhu Saar retired as an Archaeological Engineer from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in 1994. A qualified Artist from J.J. School of Arts, Bombay (1958), Sadhu has painted nature in Kashmir for over ten years. He has also written an illustrative book titled “Archaeology-Ancestors of Kashmir” in 1992. Sadhu has also mastered the art of pen & ink and is credited with introducing new methods of illustrating antiquities possessed by  the Archaeological Survey of India. Sadhu has been painting regularly since retirement and his work has been exhibited and well appreciated.  Sadhu has traveled extensively across India and North America.

Dr. Shivraj Tyagi

Shivraj has dedicated his entire life to helping others and his spirit to serve others has been a guiding force for us. He is very passionate about affordable healthcare and is currently researching lung diseases at the Harvard Medical School, USA. His outstanding work has earned him recognition from National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the American Thoracic Society. A PhD in Medical Biochemistry, he is presently an instructor of medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard University Medical School, Boston.

Dr. Subhash Dhiman

Chairman of the Central Ground Water Board (www.cgwb.gov.in) till recently (Sep, 2012), he has 37+ years of experience in ground water management and assessment. A pioneer in assessing the ground water resources in aquifers of the country, he is also credited with starting groundwater exploration and management in India. Dr. Dhiman has a PhD in Land Use and Water Management and is also an expert in Geology and Hydrogeology. He has published more than 20 papers in national and international journals and delivered more than 65 key note addresses in National and International Seminars and Workshops.

Vikas Abbott

Born into a family of tourism entrepreneurs, Vikas is a strong supporter of volunteering programs and has extensive experience (10+ years) designing and managing group travels. He  is currently managing one of the oldest family-owned travel business in India, offering customized travel tours throughout India to travelers from around the globe.

Our Friends

  • Leslie was born and brought up in the beautiful state of Maine in the USA. She is a people-person and also loves nature walks, trekking, hiking and camping. She regularly participates in half-marathons. She also loves swimming and is a music buff. She has traveled widely across Europe, including Spain from where her ancestors belonged. Leslie graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Maine, in Bachelor of Arts in Journalism (Major: Advertising, Minor: Public Relations)

  • Born and brought up in Tbilisi, Georgia, Tamara is a people lover. She adores people and goes out of her way to help them in whatever way she can. Besides making amazing Baklavas, she is very good at understanding people and their emotions. She has a taste for fine arts and is an avid lover of Georgian and international music. She is an MBA from the University of Maine in USA. Tamara is the Executive Director of Business Initiative for Reforms in Georgia (BIRG), a non-profit “Think Tank” that organizes public debates with the aim to promote political reforms in Georgia. BIRG actively co-operates with the World Economic Forum to benchmark various reform parameters in the country.

  • Hailing from Saudi Arabia, Rawan went to University of Maine in the US and is an avid lover of animals and nature, in general. She strongly believes in preserving our planet in its natural form.

  • Vivek is a quintessential “rebel” in a good way. Brimming with energy, restlessness and enthusiasm, he likes doing things differently. He has his own rock-band “Keechad” in Dehradun which helps the youth of the region to channelize their energies for positive endeavors. He is also a hard-core camper and trekker and  has trekked and camped in the most challenging sites in the state of Uttarakhand. Vivek is a journalist by profession and stays with his mom in Dehradun. His father died while serving in the Indian army.

  • Anushka represents today's youth, bubbling with energy, enthusiasm and optimism.  A pure-vegetarian in a true sense, she is a strong supporter of treating animals with kindness. An ardent devotee of Lord Krishna, she believes in the concept of ‘Karma’ and helps the needy in whatever way she can. She has a Masters in Biotechnology from India.

  • Hailing from Turner, Maine, Brandon is a go-getter. He believes in hard work  and dedication to achieve his goals. By virtue of these qualities, he has risen from the lower most ranks at the Home Depot to become the store manager in a span of few years. He loves adventure sports, traveling and fixing machines.

  • Born and brought up in Orrington,Maine, Emily is an avid lover of music and movies. A Boston Red Sox and New England Patriots fan, Emily also loves poetry. She is a part-time print model, as well. Cancer prevention is a cause very close to her heart.

  • Mila comes from Russia and represents an ideal balance of focus, determination and fun. The challenges in her life made her stronger and she is what every youth should look up to be - focused, determined, confident, kind and happy. Mila has a Bachelors of Business Administration from University of Maine in US and has worked with an investment management firm based in New York.

  • Hotel management graduate from SPU Nitra in Slovakia, Erika has worked in the hospitality sector in Prague (Czech Republic). An avid beach lover, Erika likes to travel and has travelled extensively across Europe. Currently she is working in Ocean City, Maryland.

  • Torrey, was born and brought up in southern Maine, he likes traveling to new places, hiking in the Appalachians and spending time with his kid. He is an investment analyst with an investment management firm in Boston.

  • Ogy is an tech-entrepreneur running a successful software company in USA. Born and brought up in Serbia, Ogy studied Electrical Engineering at the University of Maine. He likes swimming, soccer, hiking and chess. Ogy loves to help people. He shuttles between his offices in westbrooke, Maine and Banja Luka in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

  • Born & brought up in Ankara, Turkey, Secil is a pack of energy and enthusiasm. A mechanical engineer by training, Secil is a talented dancer specializing in turkish oriental dance (Oryantal) - a turkish form of bellydance. She is passionate about theatre and is actively involved in it. Secil loves people, life and nature.

  • Etienne, a follower of buddhism, was born and brought up in Singapore and received her education from the University of Melbourne. Her love for people and for nature, and her kindness have been an inspiration for us in designing this program.

  • Mehmet, a mechanical engineer by training is from Ankara, Turkey. He loves hiking, trekking and canoeing. He has done his MS in the mechanical engineering from the Northeastern University and currently works with the world’s leading developer of technical computing software for engineers and scientists.

Our Affiliation

We are affiliated to India's leading NGO Gunjan Organization for Community Development (GOCD) (http://gunjanindia.org) headquartered in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh. GOCD has been actively providing community services, since 2003, in the fields of Drug and Alcohol Prevention; Treatment of Addicts and their Rehabilitation; HIV/AIDS Prevention Care and Support; Empowering Women; Education of Women and Children and Primarily prevention activities and building Capacity of Civil Society Organisations.

GOCD’s vision is to challenge the social inequalities and empower the vulnerable by enabling them to help themselves.

GOCD’s mission is to mobilise and harness the power of children, youth, women and community at large to combat illiteracy, ignorance, gender discrimination, health issues (especially STI/RTI and HIV/AIDS) and the evil of drug & alcohol addiction with an ultimate aim of crime prevention and development

GOCD is very proud and fortunate to have a band of voluntary workers from India and abroad who are assisting it in furthering its mission.