Beavercreek residents Jayashri and Ratna Palakodeti, M.D., believe it’s the people who make a place a home. They were born and raised in the state of Andhra Pradesh in India and traveled to England, where Ratna continued his medical education and started his career. In 1991 the Palakodetis moved to Dayton to raise a family. Since then they have called Dayton their home.
Ratna, who joined The Dayton Foundation Governing Board in 2011, quickly learned about the Foundation and its many charitable options, including the Charitable Checking AccountSM Service which he and Jaya use to support their favorite charitable organizations.
Q: What inspires you most about the Greater Dayton community?
Ratna: Dayton is a great community. When I first came here as an immigrant, the community accepted me with open arms and warm hearts in spite of my many limitations as an immigrant. The Dayton community has a soul.
Q: Who or what helped influence your desire to give to charity?
Ratna: My mother. She showed to us that charity begins at home. She brought people into the house, treated them like her own children, educated them and helped them financially, emotionally and spiritually.
Jaya: I have seen poverty around me while in India. It made me realize what it does to a person and what it does to their dignity.
Q: Why is helping others so important to you?
Ratna: Because it is fair. The only difference between both of us and an underprivileged person is that we were born by chance into privileged families. So the money we got, the education we received and the success that came along with it don’t belong to just both of us. It is fair that we redistribute it to others who were not born into similar conditions.
Q: Do you have a particular focus or area of interest for your charitable giving?
Ratna: Interestingly, no. There are so many needy causes and areas in this world. Anything that seems to be of pressing need, we give to that cause. Children touch our hearts more because they are so helpless and don’t have much of a choice.
Q: Dr. Palakodeti, you recently retired from a long and successful career as a family physician for First Care Family Medical and medical director for First Care AfterHours. How many years did you practice medicine, and how would you describe this work?
Ratna: I was in practice for 35 years, not including my education and training. It was the most fulfilling job one can have. It gave me an opportunity not only to treat a disease but also a chance to heal a person emotionally and spiritually. I used to say that as a doctor, you don’t treat a disease. You treat a person with a disease. That’s why I loved and still love family medicine.
Q: Since joining The Dayton Foundation’s Governing Board, what has impressed you the most about the organization?
Ratna: I would say it is the commitment of these wonderful people to help others. The donors, volunteers and excellent professionals at the Foundation are laser focused to help others. I have learned a lot from these selfless people. I used to quip, “I want to be like them when I grow up.” It’s amazing to see how the Foundation has extended its helping hand into so many walks of life. Someone told me that the best exercise one can get is by lifting people who are in need.
Q: You also are strong advocates for its Charitable Checking Account Service, particularly within the local Asian Indian community. What do you like best about this service?
Ratna: There are several things I like about this service.
First, its flexibility and control. Even though I keep the money at The Dayton Foundation, I can donate to whomever I want as long as they are a 501(c)(3) public charity.
Second, its ease of giving online. I can donate money from my Account with a flick of my finger on my smart phone.
I also like its convenience. I can put money in my Account and claim a tax deduction the same year. There is no need to keep a record of individual donations to charities, as the Foundation will send me a statement at the end of the year.
Finally, I like the confidence in knowing that my charitable money is in the hands of an organization with an excellent track record.
Q: What advice can you share about giving to the community?
Ratna: As I mentioned about my mother, charity begins at home. If everyone helps to change their own local community, the world will change by itself.
Q: What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Ratna: Jaya and I love to travel. The more we travel, the more we get convinced how privileged we are. I love to spend time with my family, read and do volunteer work, as well.
Jaya: I love to cook and garden. Gardening is the chicken soup to my soul.
Q: How would you complete this sentence, “My giving makes me feel____”?
A: … accomplished. The feeling that our personal success is shared with others gives us a sense of accomplishment. That’s why I don’t call it charity but call it “share-ity.”
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The Dayton Foundation has been helping people help others since 1921 by managing charitable funds, awarding grants to nonprofits and launching community initiatives. Contact the Foundation at (937) 222-0410 or visit www.daytonfoundation.org.