Changing Our World: Raj Gopal
This profile series highlights colleagues across Bank of the West who serve our communities through board service or volunteerism. Raj Gopal, Chief Risk Officer, talks about his support for Bread and Roses and why he’s passionate about supporting community.Why is community involvement important to you?
The Bay Area is a region of great prosperity, but not for everyone. Every day, in all of our nine Bay Area counties, we have people and families who are living in less fortunate and sometimes precarious circumstances. Volunteering is how I give back to the community where I live. It also helps give me a little bit of balance in my life.Tell us about the organization you serve and how they’re making an impact in our community.
Bread and Roses presents hope and healing through live performances to audiences who are ill, institutionalized, or impoverished. Last year we hosted about 630 shows in locations such as hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, prisons, and homeless shelters, so that residents could enjoy live music, dance, and performing arts.
Our performers are professional and nonprofessional, and all are talented and entertaining – at least I’d like to think so, considering I’m one of the musicians! Last year we performed before 34,000 audience members with diverse ages from young children and teens to adults and senior citizens.
Bread and Roses has been around for 42 years and many of our founding members are still deeply involved. Their dedication to reaching isolated members of our community through the healing power of music continues to inspire me.What is your role with the nonprofit?
I’ve been on the board for almost four years. Besides being a board member, I’m also a musician. I’ve put on a couple of charity concerts over the last two years, and thanks to the kind donations of a number of Bank colleagues and others, I managed to raise more than $10,000 for Bread and Roses. In the past year I’ve also had the pleasure of performing in four Bread and Roses shows, including at nursing homes and at a drug rehab center. I’m glad to be involved with Bread and Roses at a leadership level, but I especially enjoy connecting directly to people from all walks of life.How did you choose the organization you serve?
I was introduced to Bread and Roses by a former Bank of the West colleague. He discovered that I played guitar and brought me to one of their shows to see if I’d be interested in joining. It was really wonderful to see how live music could engage an audience and bring so much happiness to people. Once I saw that, I said “absolutely.” Being involved with Bread and Roses has been a great fit for my passion and interest in music and for helping others.Are there opportunities for employees to get involved?
Yes, in one of our last performances, I collaborated with a Bank team member, Richa Sharma, who is a dancer. She’d read an article on Bread and Roses and reached out to suggest a collaborative performance. There are definitely opportunities for other Bank employees who are musicians, dancers, or live performers to get involved. Or, if they’re interested in being a volunteer host, they can help with introducing the musicians, interacting with the audience, and being the emcee for the show.