Since TANA established its Emergency Assistance Management Team (TEAM Square) in the past seven years, it has become the number one resource for Telugu people in North America. Not a week passes without the TEAM Square volunteers assisting a fellow Telugu person in a catastrophic situation. It is not unusual for TEAM Square to get requests from non-Telugu individuals and organizations.
TEAM Square was established by TANA on October 6, 2008, as another service arm to the community, specifically to aid Telugu families in North America caught in an emergent or catastrophic situation. TANA has established a network of about 400 volunteers across all regions of the USA and Canada that can be contacted in an emergency. These volunteers contact the victim and coordinate the necessary relief activities.
So far, TEAM Square volunteers have helped in more than 650 incidents. Over 400 of these incidents can be classified as major incidents, including 318 accidental deaths, 201 sudden deaths, 18 murders, 32 suicides, 22 serious injuries, 42 victims of fire accident, and several immigration-related problems, including the infamous visa problems associated with the closure of Tri-Valley and Northern Virginia Universities. TEAM Square volunteers have demonstrated time and again their commitment to helping in these difficult situations.
For example, there was an incident in which four Telugu students lost their lives in a road accident near St Louis, MO. As the anxious families were waiting back home to see their loved ones for the last time, TEAM Square volunteers negotiated with the University, Insurance company, Funeral home in making necessary arrangements and drove through the night for 8 hours to be at the Chicago consulate by the time the consulate opened in the morning, got all the papers cleared, drove for another 45 minutes to hand over the papers to the airlines meeting a 10 AM deadline so that the bodies can be transported that afternoon. Within three days of the incident, all the bodies reached Hyderabad. Several such stories of the volunteers going the extra mail to help the fellow Telugus in need. A tremendous amount of time and effort is spent providing immediate psychological comfort to the victims and their families.
The Telugu community of North America stood behind TANA both by volunteering as well as donating generously. Since its inception, TEAM Square has received almost 4,250 donations ranging from $5 to $ 20,000 for a total of $710,000. $695,000 were disbursed in the various relief activities, with another $20,000 obligated for ongoing relief efforts. TANA tracks the donations received towards TEAM Square activities separately. TEAM Square also takes a proactive role in educating the community on the prevention of emergencies. Safety guidelines have been developed in English and Telugu and are widely distributed. Besides being available on the TANA Website, they have also been distributed widely, including publication in ethnic magazines and daily newspapers in India. Guidelines were also distributed to the Indian Students Associations in universities across the USA and made available to the travel agencies in India to educate visitors, students, and new emigrants.
These guidelines can be found on TANA web www.tana.org (Safety Guidelines in English); Safety Guidelines in Telugu)
TEAM Square fulfilled TANA’s mission of serving North American Telugus and established TANA as the premier ethnic service organization. TEAM Square’s services are now so well known in AP that parents ask their children to join TANA for safety, security, and service. Because of TEAM Square, TANA has become more diversified than ever. It is gratifying to see many other ethnic organizations in the USA recognize TANA and TEAM Square as role models and approach us to develop similar programs.
TEAM Square is a great example of the Telugu community coming together to take care of its members. Its success is possible only because of the generous involvement of the community by volunteering and donating. You can be a part of this effort by joining as a volunteer at www.tana.org/help-line-team-square/contact-our-volunteers or making a tax-deductible donation https://www.tana.org/payment/donate/projects.
For more information about TEAM Square, please visit our website www.tana.org or contact TEAM Square Chairman Suresh Kakarla at (919) 370 0136 or President Anjaiah Chowdary Lavu at (770) 235 2709 or email: [email protected].