Gift From India Fund

Daily life sometimes presents us with some pretty amazing people. Paresh Bhatt is one of those very special individuals.

Mr. Bhatt was born in Gujarat, India, an industrialized state in northwest India known for its agriculture, industry, education and extensive historical and cultural attractions.

Mr. Bhatt came to the United States when he was only 23 years old. He began his life in Boston. His parents and other extended family members had emigrated there earlier. After being in Boston for only one day and four hours, he attended an event that changed the course of his life. As he walked into the event, he was approached by the man who had known his uncle, but had never met Paresh. This man told Paresh that “he had a job for Paresh” and that he had been told by Paresh’s uncle to be on the lookout for Paresh.

Paresh told him that he had only arrived the day before and didn’t have a social security number or a green card. The man told Paresh to get those things taken care of, and when he did, Paresh would have a job in this man’s manufacturing facility.

Paresh got to work, obtained his social security number and green card, and began working at the man’s factory on his fifteenth day in the United States.

Paresh was educated in India as a textile engineer. He applied that training to his factory work: he started at the bottom - on the assembly line, and worked his way up to eventually become manager of the factory. After ten years, he took another position with a different company, where he worked for 2 years. That company closed six months after the 9-/11 events, and Paresh found himself without a job. He then took a job as a front desk clerk at a Comfort Inn in Boston. He and his wife had decided to go into the motel business. This was a planned move, and one that Comfort Inn management supported. Paresh’s wife accepted a position at another hotel as a front desk clerk. These moves enabled both to learn extensively about the motel industry.

In the meantime, after living and working in the United States for one year, Paresh went back to India for a visit. There he was introduced by his brother’s brother-in-law to young woman who would eventually become his wife. It is the custom for most marriages in India to be arranged by family members. Paresh and his wife married, and Paresh returned to the United States. His wife had to wait for two and a half years before she could join Paresh in the U.S. His new wife had never been here - what a brave woman she was to make a journey to a new country with new customs, people and language - and, to top if off, a new husband as well!

They both made the adjustment successfully and lived in the Boston area. Their son and daughter were both born when the Bhatts were in Boston.

As Paresh was working at the Comfort Inn, he saw this as an opportunity buy a business of his own. He conducted extensive research about businesses for sale in the Midwest - he had a cousin who lived in Missouri, and wanted to remain close to family. His search ultimately pointed to the Comfort Inn in Fort Dodge, Iowa. Paresh began researching Fort Dodge, and learned that he liked its demographics, that Fort Dodge was an All-American City and that it also had a band shell, similar to a band shell he and his family frequently enjoyed in the Boston area. He thought “this sound like a city that has what we need”, so he decided to visit Fort Dodge.

The actual town in which Paresh and his family lived was Lowell, Massachusetts - it, like Fort Dodge, was an “All - American City”; Paresh and his family had enjoyed living there, and thought that Fort Dodge would probably have some of the same attributes and assets, since it, too, had been designated an All-American City.

He visited Fort Dodge in December and January, ten years ago. It was FREEZING!!! Paresh thought it was just too cold for his family to live here. However, he began to see the advantages and opportunities, and even though he didn’t know a soul in Fort Dodge, he eventually decided to buy the motel and move his family to Fort Dodge. He is very glad that he did.

Talking to Paresh Bhatt, one finds that he feels that he is one of the luckiest, most fortunate people on earth. He has since brought his parents to Fort Dodge, and his brother lives in Oskaloosa, Iowa. They all enjoy living near one another.

Paresh felt so very grateful for his good fortune, that he was inspired to help others.

He established the “Gift from India” donor-advised fund with the Community Foundation. This type of fund can provide financial support to an activity or project the donor wants to support. The project could be something in the community, a scholarship or another project the donor wants to support. In 2012, Paresh decided to give a scholarship to a Fort Dodge student. The 2012 recipient was Tara Jackson, a Fort Dodge Senior High student who is now attending Iowa Central. Tara wants to become an English teacher.

The beauty of a donor-advised fund is that it is not restricted or limited to supporting only one project or event. It is very flexible, and can change from year-to-year, depending what the donor wants to support.

The Community Foundation commends Paresh Bhatt. His life story is unique and inspiring - his hard work and his desire to help others with his financial generosity, are making a very positive difference in Fort Dodge today.

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