Giving Never Hurts: Nipun Mehta
“Bring smiles in the world and stillness in my heart”
Addressing the members of Rotary Club of Madras and Rotary Club of Madras East yesterday, Nipun Mehta stressed that “Giving is not a material concept, anyone in the world can give as long as he or she puts in a context. Talking on the topic “Giftivism”, he shared the examples of, Sakhu Ben, a School Janitor, Udai Bhai, an autorickshaw driver and Raghu, the polio affected good samaritan, how all of them in their own unique ways brought happiness and sunshine in the community in which they live.” Mehta emphasized that, “unlike the popular belief, Giving Never Hurts. In fact, taking out water from the well, the more you give, the more you get.”
One of the initiatives of Nipun’s Team include, “Karma Kitchen”, where your meal is a gift from someone who came before you and you have the choice of paying the bill for those who dine after you.
Nipun Mehta is the founder of ServiceSpace.org, a fully volunteer-run organization that has delivered millions of dollars of web-related services to the nonprofit world for free. The recipient of the Jefferson Award for Public Service and the President’s Volunteer Service Award, his work creatively leverages web technologies for collaborative and transformational giving, lending him insight into service, leadership, organizational design, and spirituality. He serves on the advisory boards of the Seva Foundation, Dalai Lama Foundation, Airline Ambassadors and recently, The Obama Administration.
Nipun’s high-school goal was to either become a tennis-pro or a Himalayan Yogi. However, by the third year of his Computer Science and Philosophy degree at UC Berkeley, he started his software career at Sun Microsystems. Dissatisfied by the dot-com greed of the late 90s, Nipun went to a homeless shelter with three friends to “give with absolutely no agendas.” They ended up creating a website, and also an organization named CharityFocus.org (now Service Space). Today, Service Space’s 285 thousand members incubate compassionate action in a multitude of ways and its inspiration portals get 100 million hits a year. In 2001, at the age of 25, Nipun quit his job to become a “full time volunteer.” He didn’t have a plan of survival beyond six months, but so far, so good.
In January 2005, Nipun and Gouri, his wife of six months, dropped everything to embark on an open-ended, unscripted walking pilgrimage in India to “use our hands to do random acts of kindness, use our heads to profile inspiring people, and use our hearts to cultivate truth.” Living on dollar a day, eating wherever food is offered, sleeping wherever a flat surface is found, the couple walked 1000 kilometers before ending up at a monastery where they meditated for three months. Today, both Nipun and Gouri live in Berkeley, do small acts of service with great love, and run Service Space.