By Sarah Ellen Rindsberg
Whether she’s sorting items for the book sale at the Chappaqua Library or marshaling troops to help those in need, there’s always a glowing smile emblazoned on Shobha Vanchiswar’s face. Her energy and willingness to give of herself know no boundaries. Many a tired helper at the book sale has found herself unable to resist Vanchiswar’s exhortation to “stay another hour” and “come back tomorrow!”
The holiday season is a particularly busy and gratifying time of year for Vanchiswar. She can usually be found hosting a dinner at the community center for the seniors. This tradition was established about 16 years ago, when Vanchiswar learned that many members of the hamlet often found themselves sans family and friends around the holidays. “The idea of people like my grandmother being alone seemed very wrong,” she observed.
This December, Vanchiswar will be heading to India to visit her family and pursue another one of her passions: bringing joy to children living with H.I.V. After chatting with President Clinton on one of his walks in her neighborhood, Vanchiswar decided to visit one of the orphanages served by the Clinton Foundation. Vanchiswar immediately felt an “emotional attachment” to the children. “I wrote poems because that’s my catharsis for anything that affects me,” she said.The poems are compiled in her first book, “The Lucky Ones.” All proceeds from the sale of the book are donated to the Foundation.
An accomplished gardener in her own right, Vanchiswar is also a champion and board member of Rocky Hills, the garden on Old Roaring Brook Road which is slated to be given to the county. ”It’s a joy to go and see!” she exclaimed. Inspired by its beauty, she has produced a line of cards adorned with botanical watercolors. The cards are available in Chappaqua at Aurora. Vanchiswar’s own garden is open to the public during the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days program.
Inspired by Shobha Vanchiswar’s enthusiasm for helping others, Sarah Ellen Rindsberg is signing up to assist a literacy intervention project.