Inspired by the vision of HH the Dalai Lama, the HEP (Himalayan Elders Project) is a community initiative to support, enrich and empower seniors from the Himalayan community in New York. At the HEP we provide time and space to our seniors to gather, practice dharma, socialize, share life experiences, cherish community connectedness and enjoy a renewed sense of independence .
Himalayan Elders Project was created with the core idea of selflessly serving our seniors – to appreciate their sacrifices for us and to atleast try to give them as much love, care and joy as we can.
Himalayan Elders Project is a 501(c)(3) non-profit tax-exempt organization registered in New York.
The selfless dedication of our volunteers, the generous support from the community members and the fact that the project is growing is a testament that if you do good, good will come. We relied on our belief in basic human goodness and so far it has been very rewarding.
Board of Directors
Chairman of the Board: Sonam G. Sherpa
Board Member: Karma Drukya, Sonam G. Sherpa and Tenzin Paling
Founders: Thupten Sherab & Thupten N. Chakrishar
Himalayan Elders Project is supported by 21 dedicated volunteers and countless well-wishers from the Himalayan Community in New York. We are also blessed with support from various advisors who guide us.
2011: Birth of an idea
Over the years, Himalayan community had grown exponentially in New York. Seniors were feeling out-of-place in a foreign country, spent most of their time indoors and hence were feeling lonely and home-sick. The opportunity to socialize with their peers were limited to annual events. Thupten Sherab, having worked for social causes for years, collaborated with community organizer Thupten Chakrishar to solve this problem. They reached out to their family, friends and advisors.
2012: First step
With the blessings of Sogyal Rinpoche and support from close friends, a 2 days picnic was organized at Rinpoche’s center; Tongyi Nyingje Ling in Berne, NY. This picnic was the proof of concept and the birth of Himalayan Elders Project. The seniors were supported by our first volunteers in addition to the staffs at the Tongyi Nyingje Ling.
The seniors at the picnic requested we find a place they can gather regularly in Queens, NY. Backed by the confidence of our self-less volunteers, we started the first seniors gathering at the Dhampa Sangay Center in Jackson heights, Queens with just nine seniors. The number of participating seniors grew so rapidly that we had outgrown the space in just a few months and had to look for a large place. Given the sky-high rental market in New York, there was no possibility of finding a centrally located large space that was affordable. It was a period of dilemma and challenge.
2013: A breakthrough
Sonam Sherpa, our advisor, brought the recently purchased and renovated beautiful Sherpa Community Center to our attention. Sonam arranged a meeting with the board members of the United Sherpa Association and to our delight they welcomed us with open arms. We became their first tenants and have been here since November of 2013. We are ever so grateful to the Sherpa Community for sharing their gorgeous space with us.
Taking it slow and steady, we introduced various activities for the seniors. Besides annual picnic, we now have regular Yoga classes, Dharma teachings, dance classes, city tours, musical performances, language classes and so forth. Seniors are provided free breakfast and lunch. Tea and snacks are available throughout the day.
2014: A step forward
In November 2014 we incorporated Himalayan Elders Project as a non-profit tax-exempt 501(c) (3) organization in the state of New York.
Along with providing time and space for seniors in New York, we started projects to provide assistance to destitute seniors in Tibetans settlements in India. We are currently working with community leaders in Tibetan settlements all over India to provide as much support as we can.
For updates after 2014, please check our news/events section (this page is getting pretty long anyways).
The name of the organization: “Himalayan Elders Project” reflects the wishes of His Holiness the Dalai Lama about the importance of unity between Gangchenpas (people from Himalayan Region).
The Logo: Tse-phel (Tibetan: ཚེ་འཕེལ་, Wylie: tshe ‘phel) means a healthy, prosperous and long life in Tibetan.
The simple yet elegant calligraphy is our aspiration towards our seniors and it encompasses the vision of Himalayan Elders Project.
The brush stroke around the words signify the circle of life with a dignified pause at the end.
Created by master calligrapher Jamyang Dorjee Chakrishar in 2013, the one of a kind logo was written on vellum paper with sumi ink. The original artwork is preserved at the Himalayan Elders Project.