An integral part of any friendship is a willingness to help one another.
Time and time again Dr. Ashok and Dr. Yogini Kothari have stepped up to help the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation and the community as a whole in numerous ways.
For that and all of their exemplary qualities of character, Dr. Ashok and Dr. Yogini will be honored at the 2022 Friends of the Foundation Luncheon. They were originally chosen as the Foundation’s honorees in 2020, prior to the cancellation of the event for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year’s luncheon will also honor the 2022 CRCF scholarship recipients – 124 area students who received CRCF-managed scholarship awards this year.
CRCF’s Friend of the Foundation award is the organization’s most prestigious. It honors a person or persons who have established a fund or funds there and given generously and consistently over the years; an individual who has donated generously to existing funds; and/or someone who continues the Foundation’s mission through giving and volunteerism.
Since moving to the area 38 years ago to serve in the health care field, the Kotharis have been a staple in the community when it comes to service and philanthropy.
Dr. Yogini Kothari practiced as an orthodontist for more than 25 years. She served as an assistant professor at the University of Buffalo School of Dental Medicine in the Orthodontic Department for a number of years.
Dr. Kothari had kept the local dental society (Cattaraugus and Allegany counties) active for two decades. She served as the president of the dental society and provided representation at the 8th district dental society of New York.
She began serving as a CRCF board member in 2005. Shortly after, she and her husband established the Kothari Family Endowment Fund, which provides a number of annual grants including two Kothari Family Health Care Scholarships for aspiring health care professionals each year and annual grants to the Olean Food Pantry and other organizations.
Over the years the fund has made possible more than $30,000 in grants and scholarships. The fund has grown to now support two annual scholarships of a minimum of $1,000 each.
Yogi has been a dedicated member of the CRCF scholarship committee, a role she continues still, despite terming off of the CRCF board in 2018. She served as the chair or co-chair of the committee for a number of years. She also served on the grant allocations committee.
In addition to her service with CRCF, she serves on the Olean General Hospital Foundation board, as well as the Hindu Society of Olean and Allegany where she is past president. She is also a co-founder and past board member of the Olean Meditation Center. She was instrumental in helping to establish the Olean Meditation Center at its current home on Duggan Road. Additionally, she has been involved with planning India Fest and a number of other cultural celebrations in the area.
She also played an important role in helping the Olean Meditation Center establish the Olean Meditation Center agency fund at CRCF.
She’s an excellent cook and avid gardener and often prepares flavorful ethnic dishes for area fundraising events for the Hindu Society, Olean Meditation Center and Canticle Farm. For the last five years, she has been a volunteer for DBVI, an international spiritual organization, seven days a week, leading yoga and meditation programming.
Dr. Ashok Kothari had a long career as a cardiologist in Olean. He maintained a private cardiology practice for 35 years and served as staff cardiologist at St. Francis and Olean General Hospital.
Over the years he has served on various hospital committees, including the credential committee, cardiopulmonary and critical care committees and also was the Chief of Medicine at Olean General Hospital. He has also served on the board of directors at OGH, the OGH Foundation and Universal Primary Care.
Through his career Dr. Kothari worked to advance cardiac care in our community by making additions and improvements in nuclear cardiology and echo cardiography and by establishing protocols for critical care of cardiac patients.
He was instrumental in the founding of the It’s Your Heart Club, which focused on prevention measures related to heart health long before the idea of prevention came into focus in cardiology. The club quickly grew to 1,800 members, serving as an educational group and a support group for patients facing difficulties and procedures related to cardiology.
Dr. Kothari was also committed to training EMTs, NPs, PAs and primary care physicians.
After retirement from his full-time private practice, he now works part time at Olean Medical Group as a cardiologist.
Both Drs. Ashok and Yogini Kothari have long been dedicated to recruiting physicians and helping to welcome them to the area.
Together, Dr. Ashok and Dr. Yogini Kothari made significant monetary contributions to make possible the purchase of the Olean Meditation Center building and the construction of the new YMCA of the Twin Tiers location.
Internationally, they provide contributions and aid in response to international disasters and calamities.
Post-retirement they also volunteer their professional services at a health clinic in India during the winter months. They have also solely funded the construction of a dormitory for hearing impaired students at the Badhir Vidyalay Deaf School in India.
In addition to their tireless dedication and kindness to the community through work and service, the couple have been two of the community’s most dedicated philanthropists and continue to give generously to numerous causes and charitable organizations.
“Whether it be their time or resources, the Kotharis always help and give generously,” said CRCF Executive Director Karen Niemic Buchheit. “Any time there is a need anywhere in this community, you can expect to see the Kotharis donning a welcoming smile, ready to get their hands in motion and do whatever it takes to give help where it is needed.”
“We have had to wait two years to properly honor the Kotharis in person, but we are thrilled to finally be able to recognize them with an award they so deserve,” said CRCF Executive Director Karen Niemic Buchheit. “The Kotharis were health care heroes before that term came into popular use – and even more, they continue to be heroes in this community and do so with grace and humility.”
CRCF Board President Skip Wilday echoed that sentiment.
“The world needs positivity these days, and there are few people that radiate positivity and compassion for others the way that the Kotharis do,” he said. “They embody the characteristics we strive for as a Foundation in being supportive, responsive and trusted individuals. We are so happy to provide this long overdue honor to Drs. Ashok and Yogini Kothari this year.
The Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation is the area’s supportive, responsive and trusted community foundation. Established in 1994, CRCF is growing good by connecting donors to the causes they care about most in the region. Grants from the foundation support many areas, including education, scholarships, health care, the arts, community development, human service, and youth development. To learn more, call (716) 301-CRCF (2723), email [email protected], or visit online at www.cattfoundation.org. CRCF is also on Facebook (facebook.com/cattfoundation) and Twitter (@CattFoundation).