A source of positive energy and encouragement, has enriched the lives of many through her leadership and commitment to community service as a longtime resident of Cupertino, friends and neighbors said.
Kundargi was as an active member of various citywide committees including the Cupertino Fine Arts Commission as well as the Board of the Cupertino Library Foundation, before pursuing an advanced degree from San Jose State University. Described as having a radiant and compassionate personality countless friends and acquaintances compliment her generosity and optimistic attitude.
The large Indian population in Cupertino gets a little piece of home every fall, thanks in part to Kundargi’s key role as a member of the Cupertino Fine Arts Commission in launching the city’s annual celebration, now in its 10th year on Oct. 13 at Memorial Park.
The yearly splash of color though wasn’t enough for Kundargi; she worked to find ways to display artwork around the community all year long. In 2009, while serving on the Board of the Cupertino Library Foundation, Kundargi helped establish the first Art Wall Display, entitled Spring Fever, in the through a partnership with the Fine Arts League of Cupertino.
“In large measure the result of (the display walls are) Hema Kundargi's original vision and tireless efforts,” says Eno Schmidt, president of the Cupertino Library Foundation.
And no discussion of Kundargi could end without the mention of her passion for food. She noticed a lack of Indian cooking shows airing on television, so took it upon herself to spread gourmet Indian cuisine to the residents of Cupertino
“She has developed her ‘love of cooking’...and ‘feeding’...through her diligent efforts of a cooking show,” says longtime friend Karen Kim.
Kundargi’s award-winning show, “Indian Vegetarian Gourmet,” focuses on creating simple Indian dishes while demystifying common myths associated with Indian cuisine. Kundargi’s passion for cooking is evident beyond the community, as she’s written food-related pieces for Cupertino’s citywide newsletter, Cupertino Scene, San Jose Mercury News, Los Angeles Times, and is a Local Voices blogger on Cupertino Patch. (Read her posts that include recipes here.)
She’s a 2004 recipient of the city’s CREST (Cupertino Recognizes Extra Steps Taken) award, which is given to volunteers who make tremendous contributions to Cupertino, and she earned the 2007 Asian American Hero Star award. Recognitions that to those who know her was no surprise.
“She is always willing to try new things, and embraces them with grace and curiosity,” Kim adds, “My friend Hema is a gem."