Rajal Dhruva: Lighting The Way for Others
Rajal knows the value of mentorship. She knows the challenge of growing up in a single-parent household. She knows the struggle of coming to a new country at a young age. It’s why she understands the importance of supporting BBBS, and why Rajal Dhruva has made such a huge impact fundraising for Big Brothers Big Sisters’ Bowl for Kids event this year.
Rajal’s connection with BBBS began after she and her husband overheard a friend talking about the Ice Ball Gala. “We were at Heather’s home and she was discussing preparations for the gala,” said Rajal. “My husband and I looked at each other, and it was as though that conversation was happening just for us to hear. We knew we wanted to be a part of it. We bought a table at the event and have attended the last 3 to 4 years.”
“It was almost as if we started with a bang. We were all in from the beginning and haven’t looked back,“ she said. “That was our introduction to BBBS.”
Rajal had considered becoming a Big Sister. “I wanted to be a Big, but I had three kids and a private business. I didn’t sign up out of fear of not being able to commit the time,” said Rajal. “So, participating in the gala was another way of contributing to the organization.”
Originally from India, Rajal came to the U.S. when she was in high school. She and her husband and oldest son moved to Austin from New Jersey almost 14 years ago.
The importance of mentorship was impressed upon her at an early age. “Mentorship is really the backbone of how I was raised,” said Rajal. “It was just part of the culture. My mother was a single parent. My dad died when I was a baby. So, I benefitted from family mentors. Not many people are lucky that way.”
Even such family support was not enough however, when the family made the move to the U.S. “It was a big shift when we moved,” said Rajal. “Learning to live in a new way. It was not something my family had the information to support me with. If I’d had a mentor at that time like BBBS provides, it would have been wonderful.”
Rajal sought out mentors as she experienced American life. “I always found mentorship because I depended on it. I needed it,” said Rajal. “Every single strength I have, I look back and there was someone who helped me see it. It might have been family members, someone I gravitated to at work, or teachers.”
This background helps her recognize the impact BBBS makes within the community. “It helps in every way. Having someone who can show you the way, someone to help you get back on track, someone to believe in you, is very beneficial to Littles,” said Rajal. “It helps them feel like they can make a difference in the community, too.”
“Initially, I saw only the benefit for BBBS’ Littles,” she said. “Until I attended the Ice Ball, and realized there were all these people there that I wouldn’t normally have had the opportunity to associate with. And they were all there for the same purpose. Everyone there was not only contributing, but also learning.”
Rajal’s connection with BBBS grew when she joined BBBS’ Board of Directors and became involved in the organization’s other signature fundraising event – Bowl for Kids (BFK). “It just kind of happened coincidentally,” she said. “When BFK rolled out I found out something new about my dad and it really inspired me. I really wanted to get started with the program.”
By all accounts, she did more than just get started! According to BFK leadership, Rajal is “killing it” on the fundraising front. “I have a few connections here,” she said. “But previous employers, friends, family, most are out of state. So, BFK made the most sense. These people cannot show up for Ice Ball, but they can contribute to Bowl for Kids online.”
How did she do it? “I gave myself a challenge. I decided I’d reach out to 50 people since it is BBBS’ 50th anniversary,” said Rajal. “I sent an email. I said, ‘This is what I’m involved in and you need to contribute. Period.’ That’s it.” (She laughs).
“Some showed up in a big way and some did whatever they could manage,” she said. “Fundraising is not my thing. This is my first go at it. My only tip is to lean into people you know who are not local. Think about co-workers from the past, friends from college. They’d love to know what you’re up to these days.”
What Rajal is up to these days is making a difference in the lives of children in our community. “All of us want to do good, want to contribute,” said Rajal. “Helping with a program like this is a great way to show goodness.”
“So many of my clients want to feel impactful in the world. They just don’t know how,” Rajal said. “They think of making an impact as being something huge. But maybe offering service as a Big, or contributing monetarily, maybe that is what being impactful is. Because every little bit makes a difference.”
This mother of three with a science background and training as a chemist, made the transition to being a life and mental health coach eight years ago. “I needed to be a better person,” she said. “I needed a shift in my own way of living. I needed to be a better parent.”
“A big component of my service as a life and mental health coach is being a mentor for my clients,” she said. “It’s carrying that hope for them until they’re able to see it for themselves. You have to hold that space, have that hope, and be that cheerleader, until they get there. They just need someone to believe in them. That’s what I provide. It’s what mentors provide. It’s what I’ve benefitted from.”
A benefit she recognizes looking back on her life, and one she’s ready to share. “I was able to find support through various people in different areas of my life,” said Rajal. “You gravitate to one person for a skill, and to another person for a different skill, because you sense they see that light in you.”
A light that Rajal continues to shine for BBBS Littles through her service and support.