Dmytro Cherkasov

What do meditation and yoga have to do with polar bears? Aparna Chaganty's volunteer efforts to train Bay Area residents in how to reduce stress led to a $10,000 grant from her company, Salesforce, to give to a nonprofit of her choice. We're grateful that she chose to support our research efforts on Russia's Wrangel Island, a collaborative project focused on the status and health of these polar bears.

© Dmytro Cherkasov

10/8/2019 8:44:11 PM

Meditation and Yoga for Polar Bears

By Janet Stringer, Manager of Donor Relations 

Every day, I hear incredible stories from our supporters about their love for the Arctic, their commitment to polar bears, and their desire to make an impact in their communities to change the world. We receive letters from school children with the most adorable pictures that inspire us in our day-to-day work. We receive small messages on donation forms that encourage us to continue to fight for a future that sustains polar bears and people. And sometimes we get letters from people who just want to know how to help. Some of the messages make us laugh, some make us cry, but all of them remind us of the people who stand behind us in our mission for polar bears.

This spring, I was contacted by one of those people with an incredible question. If I gave you a grant for $10,000, what would you do with it? The supporter, Aparna Chaganty, had recently been awarded a grant from her company, Salesforce, to donate to any non-profit she wanted. Aparna has been a committed pledge supporter for years, and I reached out to her immediately to learn more about her gift and the work she had hoped to support. I also sensed that there was an inspirational story behind being awarded such a generous grant, and I would learn through our conversation that I was right.

Aparna, who works for Salesforce as a data scientist, was one of 100 employees to receive a $10,000 grant award, out of a pool of 35,000 employees, to donate to the charity of her choice. Salesforce is committed to donating 1% of their time, 1% of their product, and 1% of their proceeds to non-profits. Aparna volunteered her way to the prize by giving generously of her time. She did so by helping organize a week-long meditation and yoga workshop in the Bay Area by the Art of Living Foundation, where she helped train 10,000 people in the practice of meditation and yoga—logging 360 volunteer hours over the course of a year!

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of the Art of Living Foundation, leads a session at the workshop.

When asked why she choose Polar Bears International to receive her award, Aparna explained that while traveling through Alaska in 2017 she visited a glacier that marked the progression of the melting that had occurred in recent years. Seeing the retreating glacier and the markers that stood as a stark reminder of the impact of climate change on the Arctic, she decided that she needed to do more to help animals that depend on the sea ice. And after researching organizations with an Arctic focus, she decided to support the work of Polar Bears International. 

After talking with Aparna about our various projects, she decided to earmark the $10,000 grant awarded by Salesforce to support scientific research on Russia’s Wrangel Island. This new collaborative project will help to measure the population size and health of the polar bears on this isolated island in the Arctic Ocean between the Chukchi Sea and East Siberian Sea.

Aparna Chaganty

A concern about climate change and love of polar bears led Aparna Chaganty to choose Polar Bears International as the recipient of her grant.

Thank you so much to Aparna and all of our supporters who are working every day to build a brighter future of polar bears and people. I hope we can continue to tell your stories to inspire global community-based action. Keep up the incredible work!

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