Keene Senior Center

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Our Mission

Holly Jolly Family Holiday Fair Handcrafted Quilt Raffle

This queen size (90"x108") multicolored all cotton, nine-patch house sampler design. Tickets on sale now at the Senior Center's front office! Tickets cost one for $1 or six for $5. Raffle drawn December 6, 2014. (Permit #126)

Meet Hasu Dalwadi, a Senior Center Member

Hasu, could you tell me a little bit about your life growing up? I was born in India in 1939. My father was an engineer, and my mother was a stay at home mom. I have six brothers and one sister. All my siblings completed high school, but only my younger brother and I went to college. Growing up my mother shared many stories about Florence Nightingale, who was a celebrated English social reformer and statistician, and the founder of modern nursing. Florence was an inspiration to me. I wanted to be just like her and help the sick and injured, so I decided to study nursing. In 1959, I enrolled at Gujarat University in India to pursue a career in nursing. After graduating, I worked as a Registered Nurse and Midwife for eleven years in a large, civil hospital in Ahmedadad, India. My goal was to move to England to treat people involved in World War II. Unfortunately, my mother fell and developed a cerebral hemorrhage. She passed away within three days. I remained in India to help my father and brothers at home. I thought my mother’s passing was a bad omen, so I decided to move to a different country and chose America instead. On January 22, 1974, I received my visa and on February 17, I landed alone in the JKF Airport in New York alone with seven dollars in my hand. I traveled to New York City, where friends of my brother received me from the airport. I spent seven weeks in Brooklyn, but found it to be too crowded and moved to Stamford, Connecticut. Through a private agency I worked for the Courtland Gardens Health Center Nursing Home and performed in-home private duty. During this time, I married my childhood friend. He was single at the time, previously married with a son and daughter. His son was seven and his daughter was four. We wed on August 9, 1975 in India, and he arrived at the JFK Airport on November 8, 1975. Together we lived in Connecticut for seven years. Our first daughter was born in 1976. In 1978 I  proudly became a citizen of the United States. In 1978, my husband and his business partner purchased a motel. Eventually, he bought out his business partner and purchased and managed motels in West Springfield, MA, Albany, NY and the Valley Green in Keene, NH. In 2005, two years after my husband passed away, I sold the motels because I received legal guardianship of my granddaughter and was working full time a Direct Support Professional (caregiver). My granddaughter is very important to me. She has a good heart, is sensitive and sensible, and loves children and animals. She is a freshman in high school and loves to ice skate, play the violin, read, dance, run cross country, and she studies hard and enjoys school. My two biological children who were born in the United States have studied hard and have good jobs. My daughter lives in Swanzey with husband and her 4 year old son. My son lives in Glastonbury, CT and works for an insurance company with his wife who is a Physician’s Assistant.

Tell me a little about India and its culture. Each state in India is very different. Each has different dialects, religions, outfits, traditions, and foods. I am from the Gujarat, a state in Western India. We speak Gujarati and predominately practice Hinduism; therefore, it is primarily a vegetarian state. We eat a lot of rice, vegetables, beans, and fruits. Many Gujarati dishes are distinctively sweet, salty, and spicy simultaneously. Also, each month there is a different festival. For example, January 14th is kite flying day.

The Indian culture also believes in arranged weddings. Parents, on both sides, typically will have a friend, family member or neighbor who will point out a suitable spouse from a similar cast. The parents will meet and talk, and then will arrange for their children to meet. Traditionally at that meeting the daughter will remain behind a door. The bride’s family will greet and shows respect to the groom’s family by bowing and saying, “Namaste.” The parents of the bride will give gifts (clothing, money etc.) to the groom’s family. Then the families will sit and have tea and snacks together. The bride to be will bring out the tea. The bride and groom will not speak, look, or smile at each other. The sister, aunts, cousins will serve the groom and his family. Also, each the bride and groom have an astrological book. When compared they must be compatible by a minimum of eight-five percent. Each book explains how many children you want, your education level, etc. When one follows these Indian traditions, there is only a two percent divorce rate. After marrying, typically all of the sons will remain living under one roof with their parents, while the daughters move in with their husband’s parents. I met my husband, because our parents were friends, and we grew up together. His family were business people who made bricks.

Tell me how you ended up joining the Senior Center I joined the Senior Center twelve years ago when membership was eight dollars at that time. Due to other commitments and my job, it didn’t work for me at that time. Now that I am free from the motel business, I decided to come back to meet new people and volunteer. I am a people person, and from a young age I was privileged with good life, parents, and family, so I want to give back to others. That being said, no one has handed me a silver platter. I am a fighter and if I set a goal I work hard to achieve it. Volunteering makes me feel good to give back. Feeling happy inside brings out my smile and helps to bring out someone else’s smile. I firmly believe trying something new each day is achieving something in life.

So what are some of your goals? I haven’t yet achieved my goal of obtaining my RN and Midwife’s certificate from the United States, so I am starting from the foundation. I have completed a certified Licensed Nursing Assistant training program at the Red Cross with the support of my good friends in town at the Senior Center. Pegg (the Executive Director), Lindsey (Assistant Director), and Roger Bienvenu (the computer guru) have all provided me with a lot of support and encouragement. I plan to continue my nursing education to finally receive my Registered Nurse license and Midwifery certificate.