Poonam Maini carries on her dad’s legacy and passes it onto her children
Poonam Maini’s father was passionate about feeding the hungry.
He preached the idea that when you want someone to do better, you have to ensure they’re well-fed. It’s important to first fill their bellies, then take them to work and show them how to provide for themselves.
“If you give them the fish, also teach them how to catch the fish,” Maini says.
Her father learned this firsthand. Growing up, he barely had enough to get by, but he worked hard enough to become a self-made millionaire.
However, Maini didn’t know this about her father until after his death March 4, 2011. After he died, Maini learned that her dad had been feeding the hungry, providing homes for the homeless, paying the poor to work and donating his time and money to those in need, all without his family’s knowledge.
At the time of his death, Maini was struggling with ending her 18-year emotionally and physically abusive arranged marriage. She knew she had to get back on her feet to provide for her three children and carry on her father’s legacy of giving back.
Maini opened her authentic Indian restaurant, Tandoor, and things started looking up.
“I think it was my dad’s giving back — God was watching his kids,” Maini said. “We never had to ask a favor from anybody.”
In 2013, Tandoor opened its doors at its Shoppes at University Center location, and Maini felt comfortable again. But it came with a restlessness to do more. She tried for two years to open a second restaurant to run as a nonprofit, but setbacks kept her from opening.
“I had a direct conversation with God,” Maini says. “I said ‘God, I feel so restless, so selfish, it’s a purposeless life. I wake up, go to work, make money, raise my children and go to sleep, that cannot be it. I need to do more and find a peace and help others who cannot do what I did.’”
Four weeks later, Share Care Global was officially a nonprofit organization, and it’s now operating in its second year.
Inspired by her dad’s motto to feed the hungry, the nonprofit first started as a food shelter in India, and has since expanded to include more than just meals. Share Care Global offers a women’s entrepreneurship program, which teaches women how to sew clothes to sell to provide for their families.
In Sarasota, Share Care Global supports women and children by helping other nonprofits, such as Safe Place and Rape Crisis Center and Hope Family Services.
The organization largely gets its money from Tandoor, which donates between $5,000 to $7,000 each month. Maini’s children also donate part of their paychecks to the nonprofit.
“Our relationship with the nonprofit is just simple support,” Maini’s daughter, Sheena Maini says. “All of her kids, my brother and sister, everybody jumped on.”
Maini’s daughter helps with the daily operations of Tandoor, and she’s also in charge of the yearly Share Care Global gala, An Evening in India. This year’s Oct. 19 gala has already sold all of its 300 tickets.
Growing up, Sheena Maini became a second parent figure for her family after her mom’s divorce. Since then, the two have grown to form a strong team, a bond that helps them run Tandoor and Share Care Global together.
“There are things I lack and she makes up for that,” Poonam Maini says. “If it wasn’t for my baby girl when she was born, I don’t know how I would have survived and managed life. She gave me the means to live. She became my strength.”
The backbone of Share Care Global is unconditional love, something that Sheena Maini says her mom is made of.
“My mom’s heart — there’s nothing that matches it, and I don’t think I could match her heart in this lifetime, but I know that’s the biggest inspiration for me,” Sheena Maini says. “There’s a thing called love and then there’s a thing called unconditional love, which is what she possesses — there’s no conditions put on giving.”
In the years coming, the Mainis will keep hosting An Evening in India and expanding their mission to help those in need in the community, even though the goal of Share Care Global is to help those around the world.
“For me, I’m helping humanity,” Poonam Maini says. “It doesn’t matter the country, the village, the religion. I learned from (living) here and have taken it back home (to India). I’m trying to start a movement, a momentum that we need to take care of the underprivileged — not only to just feed them, but (teach) how they can earn that.”