Poonam Vaswani of Plainsboro will be honored on Saturday, April 17, by VSA Arts of New Jersey. She receives a Helen Gabriel outstanding volunteer award from the nonprofit statewide organization that provides arts opportunities for people with disabilities.
A volunteer with Plainsboro’s Shadow Buddy program for close to four years, Vaswani has worked closely with Alexandra Block in the art program for children with special needs. Vaswani worked with one child at a time to help them finish an art project. When Block asked for volunteers to help with the VSA program in Mercer County, Vaswani jumped right in. “Allie and I would help the children with art projects,” Vaswani says.
Born in India, her family relocated to Puerto Rico 38 years ago. She met her husband, Haresh, through a common friend and the marriage was arranged. “That’s how we were brought up,” she says. “The families find out about the background before the first meeting.”
Their children, both students at High School South, are Avinash, 17, a senior, and Karishma, 15, a sophomore. Both have also been active volunteers with Shadow Buddies and her son has volunteered to coach middle school basketball.
The family moved from Queens to Plainsboro five years ago. “We visited friends in Plainsboro often and spent weekends here,” she says. “We like being in the suburbs and after a few years made the move.”
They own Soccer King, a wholesale supply company specializing in soccer uniforms and soccer paraphernalia, now located at 45 Everett Drive, West Windsor. They moved the business from Long Island City soon after they relocated to New Jersey.
“My mother was always helping people,” says Vaswani. “When the children were younger I began volunteering in their day care center. Being in our own business gives me the flexibility to volunteer.”
— Lynn Miller
Award Presentations, VSA Arts of New Jersey, Linwood Middle School, 25 Linwood Place, North Brunswick. Saturday, April 17, 2 p.m. Arts Achievement Awards and the fifth annual Dare to Imagine Awards presented by the nonprofit statewide organization that provides arts opportunities for people with disabilities. Register. Free. 732-745-3885. www.vsanj.org.