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Youth Group

Youth Group Photos

Contact Person:
Hema Agarwal (386) 266-7750 HemaAgarwal@gmail.com

Brief History and Mission

The Indian Cultural & Educational Center Youth Group will be celebrating its 16th year in April 2011.  It was formed in 1995 to aid the children (aged 12-18) of first generation Indian immigrants. The initial purpose was to provide a setting for these teens in which they could socialize with other children of their own age and heritage and develop a sense of belonging and community. In first few years activities of the Youth Group were primarily social. Events such as annual trip to Itchetucknee River, summer trips to water parks and springs, and regular picnics at local parks. These fun activities provided a way for the Youth Group children and their parents to interact and identify with individuals from their own culture.

Since its inception however, this group has also been involved in many different volunteer activities. Their first volunteer work began in year 1999 for the newly built Indian Cultural & Educational Center (ICEC). They started fundraising efforts such as car washes and bake sales, for the purchase of needed chairs, tables, and library furniture. They have also raised funds to install curtains for the backstage and game room equipments such as ping-pong, air hockey, and foosball tables. They were also able to raise enough funds by selling dinners at different events to install stage lights and a music system at a cost of about 10,000.00.  

In addition to volunteering for ICEC, the Youth Group has spent much time volunteering in Gainesville and the Alachua County. They have participated annually in events such as Keep Alachua Beautiful, and Hope for The Holidays. They have also hosted canned food drives for the St. Francis House and have served meals several times to the homeless and hungry people. This group has been helping to clean ICEC building and surrounding area twice a year (in April & October). They enjoy painting outside walls and stairways.

Every year since 1998, this group has been adopting one and sometimes two needy families during the holiday season through Alachua County’s Hope for the Holidays program. They have collected money and new items from their friends and families and even been known to contribute from their own allowances to purchase gifts and necessary items to fulfill the families’ dreams for Christmas.  In year, 2004, the Youth Group sponsored a family of four teenagers with no parents, in which the 19 year old was carrying the burden of support for his three younger siblings. They raised enough funds to purchase all of their wished goods such as cloths, purses, football, basketball, computer and a gift certificate for Publix for meals. The community members donated printer and monitor for the computer.

In addition to their dedication to community service, the Youth Group hosts two main cultural programs during the year. Every January and August, these children, with the help of their parents, organize and run cultural programs to celebrate India’s Republic and Independence Days, respectively. They contribute heavily to much of the behind the scenes work for these events and a majority of Youth Group children also perform dances, songs, hosting, instrumentals and skits for the programs. These talented young children also play an instrumental role in ICEC’S Annual India Fest, a festival held for the Gainesville and surrounding community to display India’s vast culture and heritage. They perform various dances, songs etc, help serve food & drinks and volunteer in organizing and running the event.

Finally, these students help minority children in the Gainesville community in their preparation for the SAT exam by tutoring them in Math and English each week at the ICEC. All members of this group also participate in volunteer activities through their respective schools via Key Club, March of Dimes, and other organizations.

Their volunteer activities extend to other parts of the world as well, for example some of the children have started a fundraiser to help build a well for a needy village in Ghana. They held a cultural program on January 29, 2005 to raise funds for the Tsunami disaster to help fishermen by buying them a boat in a small village in India who lost every thing during this disaster.   

Over the years, this young group of children has shown dedication and selflessness through their voluntary acts for the ICEC, the Gainesville and surrounding communities. In addition to their sometimes grueling school work, they take time out of their schedule to help those around them and truly demonstrated that they are today and will be in the future, caring, dedicated and community oriented citizens.


1115 S.W. 13th Street Gainesville Florida 32608  (352) 379-2911