Since she became a client of the North West Disability Services last year, Santoshi Ramarathinam has blossomed.
Before joining the service's post-school community participation program, the severely autistic 19-year-old from Kellyville, who has no speech and a hearing impairment, would hide behind her mother when confronted with new people. Today, Santoshi enjoys new company just about every day.
"The fear is gone," said Santoshi's mother, Akila Ramarathinam, 51.
"Every day, she gets a new carer — and that's what we wanted.
"She's very cheerful and eating well; there's improvement in every area. You can see just by her behaviour she's happy to be there."
To mark 30 years of NWDS support for clients across western Sydney, the Vishva Hindu Parishad of Australia has invited community members to a May 24 fund-raiser at the Redgum Function Centre, Wentworthville, to enjoy an evening of classical Hindu dance, music and vegetarian food.
"The aim is an intercultural event," Mrs Ramarathinam said.
"Please buy tickets: it's a good cause. We need more NWDS facilities in so many suburbs."
Choreographer Hamsa Venkat said dancers from Lalor Park's Samskriti School of Dance will perform the ancient Indian dance of Bharathanatyam, which is nearly 3000 years old, accompanied by live music by singer Krishna Ramarathinam, traditional mridangam player Pallavan Nagendran and violinist Varun Ramakrishnan.
NWDS manager Deb Richter said funds raised at the Prana event would go towards a new commuter bus to meet clients' community access needs.
30th anniversary fund-raiser
■ May 24 at the Redgum Function Centre, Wentworthville.
■ Tickets: Adults $25, concession $20, children under 5 free.
■ Details: 9686 4155.
North West Disability Services in Conie Avenue, Baulkham Hills, offers social support and day programs for people with disabilities.
"We grew out of a council project," the service's chief executive, Deborah Gersbach, told the News in February.
"Thirty years ago one of their officers, Ray Millars, saw a need for a recreational facility for people with disabilities and they provided us with a room at the old council chambers.
"I came on board in 1994. We had three staff.
"Now we have 160 staff, 80 volunteers and 350 service users."
Ms Gersbach said if it wasn't for council's generosity in charging only $10 a year for them to lease the building in Conie Avenue, users would have to pay more to access their programs.