Jefferson Award Winner Volunteers With Several OrganizationsBy Sharon Chin

FOSTER CITY (KPIX 5) Nisha Chaudry shares heartwarming stories from medical missions to her native India.

“It’s life changing what we do,” said Chaudry.

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For the last decade, she has volunteered as a logistics coordinator and translator with ReSurge International.

The Sunnyvale nonprofit provides free reconstructive plastic surgery to poor families in developing countries. The team often sees cleft lips and severe burns.

“Imagine someone who has a horrible burn contracture. They can’t dress themselves, they can’t eat on their own,” said Chaudry.

But after surgery, she explains, that person can do some things they were not able to do.

As a translator, Chaudry educates patients on what to expect before and after the operation.

Often, the families are overwhelmed. Many come to the hospital from miles away, on foot or by bus. Most only speak Hindi, and it’s their first time seeing a doctor.

ReSurge CEO Jeff Whisenant and Communications and Marketing Director Anne Cavanaugh say Chaudry offers reassurance and compassion.

“She’s got a very calm and soothing presence with the children and their families so it’s really great,” Cavanaugh said.

“You don’t have to be around Nisha long to get a feeling of love and generosity of spirit,” said Whisenant.

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While Chaudry is making an impact overseas, she’s also making a difference as a busy volunteer at home.”

As a volunteer with the Purple Heart Anglers, Chaudry chaperons wounded American military veterans on fishing trips to the Sacramento Delta and even Alaska.

“Just seeing the smile on their face is enough to want to do more for them,” she said.

She does do more: to raise money for nonprofits, Chaudry and her husband have auctioned off traditional Indian dinners she cooks at their Foster City home. They also host volunteer and staff parties.

How’s the feast?

“Oh my goodness,” laughed Whisenant. “It’s a highlight.”

Chaudry is employed as the Chief Shop Steward for Alaska Airlines.

She also has volunteered with Samaritan House, the American Cancer Society, and the Foster City Lions Club.

For Chaudry, giving is as natural as breathing.

“It really makes me whole. I always say I don’t think I do enough,” she said.

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So for her wide-ranging volunteer service in the U.S. and India, this week’s Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Nisha Chaudry.