Sewa International volunteers at Naperville's ISKCON Temple opening

Members of the Chicago Chapter of the 2023 Sewa International LEAD program volunteered on April 22 for the grand opening and inauguration of the ISKCON temple in Naperville.

Sewa International ( believes that the whole world is our family. LEAD 2023 program provides students in eighth to 12th grades opportunities to participate in and/or lead various community service activities, helping them earn volunteer hours in the process. Sewa believes the world is our family. Students from other faiths and communities are welcome to participate.

The ISKCON temple in Naperville ( was formally inaugurated April 22. The temple was in an old church building since 2011, but with a congregation of 100-plus diverse families, a new temple was needed to meet the community's needs.

All of the high schoolers arrived around 7 a.m. wearing traditional clothes. After getting acquainted with the layout of the temple, they set up arrangements at the entrance and learned about ISKCON as an organization and about its huge following. This was a major event for the devotees. They welcomed them in the traditional ISKCON way and guided them on about what is happening where.

Some focused on answering questions that visitors had, including helping them find the stairs and elevators, and guiding them to various sections of the temple. Older students and some of the adult volunteers helped with the foot traffic and car parking.

It was a great experience to observe how entire families, including babies, parents, and grandparents came together for this event. The main responsibility was to educate the visitors about the events happening that day and how they can help with fundraising.

Twelve Sewa LEADs volunteered for a total of 61.25 hours at the Naperville ISKCON temple. They each helped for around 6 hours. Overall it was a busy day and a very rewarding experience.

ISKCON (International Society of Krishna Consciousness) has over 700 temples worldwide, with members from many ethnic and national backgrounds. This spiritual society was founded by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in July 1966 in New York.

The aim of ISKCON is "to acquaint all people of the world with universal principles of self-realization and God consciousness so that they may derive the highest benefit of spiritual understanding and love."

Sewa International is a Hindu faith-based, humanitarian, 501(c)3 nonprofit service organization. Founded in 2003, Sewa International is part of a larger movement that started in India in 1989 and is active in 20 countries. Sewa serves humanity irrespective of race, color, religion, gender, or nationality. They specialize in disaster relief and rehabilitation. Development programs focus on family services; child, tribal, and refugee welfare; women empowerment; health; and education. In addition to their work in the U.S., they have undertaken development projects in Colombia, Guyana, India, Kenya, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.

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