The Fremont Podcast

Episode 119: Considering Community Culture, Sikh Heritage, and Local Business Resilience with Jasmine Basrai

May 24, 2024 Ricky B Season 3 Episode 119
Episode 119: Considering Community Culture, Sikh Heritage, and Local Business Resilience with Jasmine Basrai
The Fremont Podcast
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The Fremont Podcast
Episode 119: Considering Community Culture, Sikh Heritage, and Local Business Resilience with Jasmine Basrai
May 24, 2024 Season 3 Episode 119
Ricky B

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In this episode, we chat with Jasmine Basrai, the owner of Haller's Pharmacy. We hear a little of her story and how her family became influential in the establishing of Fremont's first Sikh Gurdwara and in taking over the ownership of local shops and pharmacies including Haller's.  Her tales are a testament to the city's diversity and inclusivity, inviting listeners to catch a glimpse of life connected to the community by  Sikh traditions.

As we talk about Fremont's cultural landscape, we discuss how the Sikh community's ethos of 'seva'—selfless service—has become an integral thread in the city's social fabric. From their philanthropic water distribution during the 4th of July parade to offering shelter and meals to those in crisis, the Sikhs' impact on Fremont is profound and multifaceted. And it's not only about the past; the episode continues to explore how Fremont has rallied around its local businesses and services.

Embracing change with resilience, we hear the transformative journey of a family-owned pharmacy—from navigating the intricacies of pandemic management to establishing a drive-through vaccination clinic. This conversation is not only about survival but about thriving through innovation and community support. By engaging in local organizations and initiatives, such as addressing the pressing issue of fentanyl and opioid use, we're sowing seeds for a happier, healthier future in Fremont. Listen in as we explore these stories and more, painting a picture of a community that embraces its legacy while boldly marching towards tomorrow.

For more information about Haller's check out their website here. 

Check out Own It Fitness for your professional fitness solutions. You can find their website here.

Connect with them on Instagram here. 

If you are interested in supporting the podcast, please reach out to us at thefremontpodcast@gmail.com, or you can contact us here. 


Fremont Bank has been partnering with and supporting people and small businesses for over six decades.

Also, Petrocelli Homes has been a key sponsor for the Fremont Podcast almost from the beginning. If you are looking for help or advice about buying or selling a home, or if you are looking for a realtor, get in touch with Petrocelli Homes on Niles Blvd in Niles.

If you are in need of services for design or printing, check out Minutemen Press in Irvington. They have been serving the community for over 20 years, and they stand strong by their work and service.

Intro and Outro voiceovers made by Gary Williams. Check out garywilliams.org.

This episode was edited by Andrew C.

Scheduling and background was done by Sara S.

This is a Muggins Media Podcast.

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.

In this episode, we chat with Jasmine Basrai, the owner of Haller's Pharmacy. We hear a little of her story and how her family became influential in the establishing of Fremont's first Sikh Gurdwara and in taking over the ownership of local shops and pharmacies including Haller's.  Her tales are a testament to the city's diversity and inclusivity, inviting listeners to catch a glimpse of life connected to the community by  Sikh traditions.

As we talk about Fremont's cultural landscape, we discuss how the Sikh community's ethos of 'seva'—selfless service—has become an integral thread in the city's social fabric. From their philanthropic water distribution during the 4th of July parade to offering shelter and meals to those in crisis, the Sikhs' impact on Fremont is profound and multifaceted. And it's not only about the past; the episode continues to explore how Fremont has rallied around its local businesses and services.

Embracing change with resilience, we hear the transformative journey of a family-owned pharmacy—from navigating the intricacies of pandemic management to establishing a drive-through vaccination clinic. This conversation is not only about survival but about thriving through innovation and community support. By engaging in local organizations and initiatives, such as addressing the pressing issue of fentanyl and opioid use, we're sowing seeds for a happier, healthier future in Fremont. Listen in as we explore these stories and more, painting a picture of a community that embraces its legacy while boldly marching towards tomorrow.

For more information about Haller's check out their website here. 

Check out Own It Fitness for your professional fitness solutions. You can find their website here.

Connect with them on Instagram here. 

If you are interested in supporting the podcast, please reach out to us at thefremontpodcast@gmail.com, or you can contact us here. 


Fremont Bank has been partnering with and supporting people and small businesses for over six decades.

Also, Petrocelli Homes has been a key sponsor for the Fremont Podcast almost from the beginning. If you are looking for help or advice about buying or selling a home, or if you are looking for a realtor, get in touch with Petrocelli Homes on Niles Blvd in Niles.

If you are in need of services for design or printing, check out Minutemen Press in Irvington. They have been serving the community for over 20 years, and they stand strong by their work and service.

Intro and Outro voiceovers made by Gary Williams. Check out garywilliams.org.

This episode was edited by Andrew C.

Scheduling and background was done by Sara S.

This is a Muggins Media Podcast.

Speaker 1:

An open invitation to all Fremont student journalists. An open invitation to the parents of all Fremont student journalists. If you worked for your school newspaper and would like to make an audio story for our podcast, we will air it. We will help you, we will edit, we will give advice. We don't even have to meet in person. You, we will edit, we will give advice. We don't even have to meet in person.

Speaker 1:

We would love to have student journalists, teenagers with a point of view and a life lived in Fremont that we don't have access to. We would love for you to tell your stories, or tell the stories of those around you, or at least tell stories from your perspective. This is a call out to the students as individual people. We're not going to be able to go through your schools because you know it's summer. If you had more fun in journalism class than you expected and it scratched an itch that you didn't know you had, let's do more work. Reach out to us through our website, thefremontpodcastcom, or message us on Instagram. Your parents are definitely going to have to be involved. We will need their consent, but we have worked with teens before. We'd like to do it again, to repeat myself. An open invitation to the student journalists of this town If you can come up with a story idea and do the field reporting, we can help edit and you will get airtime.

Speaker 2:

I'll tell you a really funny story Love it. So you know you have to take driving lessons before you turn 16 and you're in the you know student driver. Beware. A friend of mine and I were in the same car and we had a driving instructor who didn't know what Sikhs were. So we took him to the gurdwara for free food during our driving lesson to teach him a little bit more about sickles.

Speaker 4:

That's awesome.

Speaker 2:

Just laugh because we could just, if you needed to eat, you could just go there. Wow, and I think we changed his perception.

Speaker 3:

Coming to you straight from Fremont, california. This is the Fremont Podcast, dedicated to telling the stories of the past and present of the people and places of the city of Fremont, one conversation at a time.

Speaker 1:

You are listening to episode 119 of the Fremont Podcast.

Speaker 4:

So, basically, how many more episodes do we have this season? The season's?

Speaker 5:

four so this Friday you said it's going to be Hall of Fame yeah yeah. So then that takes care of May 24th, and then you've got May 31st, June 7th and June 4th Okay, Now here's your host, Ricky B.

Speaker 4:

So I am so excited to have Jasmine. Is it Bazarati?

Speaker 2:

Bazarai.

Speaker 4:

Bazarai. Okay, excited to have Jasmine on the Fremont podcast and I have to say why I'm so excited. She has been a huge supporter and encourager in probably every way possible. She has been a vocal fan of the podcast. As she worked with the Fremont Chamber of Commerce, I felt like every time I showed up she was putting in a plug for the podcast. And then she was also as the owner of Holler's Pharmacy. She was a sponsor, a partner sponsor, and then she's given us other guests to have on the podcast. So I can't think of another way that we could be supported that she hasn't already done so, and we've been having this conversation, I think, for a good long while, to have her on the podcast and now it's actually happened. So, jasmine, I'm so excited to have you on the podcast and thank you for being here.

Speaker 2:

Thank you for having me.

Speaker 4:

So I want to hear a little bit about you, your story. I know that in the past you've told me that your family was one of the first of a particular group of people that came to Fremont. So tell me a little bit about your family coming to Fremont and what was the dynamic of all that. Share some of that with me.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, when I grew up in Fremont, it was a small little sleepy town, still had gladiola fields and farms and things like that. It was growing up into what it's now, but there was a very small Sikh community that was rising up.

Speaker 2:

So my dad is a pharmacist and own pharmacies here in Fremont, pharmacies here in Fremont and a group of him and doctors around the area realized the need that Sikhs needed a place to worship and actually started the first Sikh Gurdwara, which you know down the street here on Mission Started actually in Newark as a small place. They would rent it out and start a fundraising committee to actually buy their own piece of property. So where?

Speaker 2:

you see gudwara road now is the legacy of maybe like seven or eight families that would meet at my dad's pharmacy on the weekends and, okay, say how we're going to do this, how we're going to get involved in the community, and because of that they also used to do a lot of health fairs. They were doctors, pharmacists people, nurses, a lot of medical professionals from the Sikh community. That said you know, we want to raise our families here, so we need a place to worship and Fremont's a very inviting place and I remember going to school, being some of the few Sikh families here, but just being welcoming and being part of the community right away.

Speaker 4:

That's awesome. That's awesome. And so when did they start that? When did they open that? You said it started in Newark, but when was that started in Newark? And then when did it move to Niles?

Speaker 2:

It's going to be sometime in the 80s. So my dad came to Fremont in 1979.

Speaker 3:

Okay.

Speaker 2:

So I want to say somewhere in the mid-80s, especially when there was a lot of strife in India with the Sikhs and there was a lot of Sikh migration from India in 1984.

Speaker 2:

That's when there was a big influx of six into the California because, uh, six are mostly farming community and so you have a city and other places you'll see them, Uh, but in the Bay area it was a very big professional community of doctors, engineers, a pharmacist like my family, and so, um, it's somewhere in the mid eighties, as my family's growing up, and uh, if you go to the Sikh temple now, you'll see two buildings the building where they call the Lunger Hall, where they serve the food that was the actual original building, and then the new hall is what they built up and bought more of the property around there as well.

Speaker 4:

I have to admit, I'm a little unfamiliar with what makes the Sikh community, what distinguishes them from, say, other worship centers or from other worshiping communities. Like I see Sikh people involved in a lot of things around Fremont. Like I think that the one thing that stands out to me the like a 4th of July parade. They're always handing out water in the, you know, to the people that are there, and, um, I just think that's awesome. So, so, what? What? Maybe you can help me a little bit. What is it about the Sikh community? What, maybe? What is what drives them? What's the mission? What's the thought behind what they're doing to help be invested in the community?

Speaker 2:

And I think my answer is going to be a lot about what drives me. So, it's really a fundamental urge to give back. It's just part of your DNA, so it is a lot about the word seva and I'm not sikh person, like I'm second generation sikh is like what I like to say yeah and there's a lot more people who are much more well versed in it, but I do speak, read and write punjabi and and gurmukhi.

Speaker 2:

I can read a little bit, which is the sikh, which is the language. But, um, growing up in fremont, uh, what was so great about how the Sikh community was accepted? And you know just, it was there and it was always about giving back. I'll tell you a really funny story Love it.

Speaker 2:

So you know you have to take driving lessons before you turn 16 and you're in the you know student driver. Beware, a friend of mine and I were in the same car and we had a driving instructor who didn't know what sikhs were, so we took him to the gurdwara for free food oh my during our driving lesson to teach him a little bit more about sikhism. Just laugh, because we could just. If you needed to eat, you could just go there. Wow, and I think we changed his perception.

Speaker 5:

That's great.

Speaker 2:

Because I was always. You know, later, in the 90s and after 9-11, sikhs became you know the turbans and we became different. But you know, growing up it was always about giving back. Community service was at the core.

Speaker 4:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

And that's why you see the Sikh community do the water, and if you ever need a meal, the kitchen's always open and if you need a place to sleep there, it is always open. And that's the the part of community that brings back and and it's really great because the Sikh Gurdwara here in Fremont is a prolific one in the United States in terms of you know it's, it's impact in its community and people migrating from different places to be in.

Speaker 4:

Fremont because of that, yeah, yeah, I think that's great. I you know it's interesting that you mentioned what you did about um 9-11 and and just the perception of of, uh, different peoples. I think I think it is important and I'll and I'm going to speak from my perspective, which I didn't grow up here in Fremont. I grew up in a community that was more of like a monocultural or bicultural community and I feel like there's a lot more cultures coming together in one place here in Fremont. But I do think that that's something as someone who came in from the outside and is trying to understand the people that live here in Fremont.

Speaker 4:

I think that there are certain things and maybe it's because of movies and television that have given a certain stereotype, a look, a certain stereotype that makes you question like what, who is this person? And you know what, uh, what, what are they all about? You know, and I think that that one of the things that's been um, a good thing and, I think, a beautiful thing for me to learn, since I've been in Fremont, um, and I had someone tell me, I remember someone tell me very plainly if they have a turban on, they're the best. Uh, you, you can trust them. You can, you can, uh they're they're the good guys you know, and I feel like that's something, um, that I'm really grateful for, um, because I do think that, um, as I've been around here long enough, uh, to observe different people, especially like the parades and other events like that, I'm just like man, they're doing really good things for other people and I really love that.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, when I growing up, my grandfather wore a turban and he was prolific on AC Transit to take from his house to the Gurdwara and people would pick him up. He never experienced, you know, in the years he lived to be 90-something and in the years he never felt like this wasn't his second home.

Speaker 2:

That's great, you know he didn't really talk about feeling uncomfortable. Growing up in Fremont walking around with my grandmother, who wore full Indian clothing, and my grandfather taking care of us, it didn't feel out of place. It didn't really feel like um, this was weird yeah, that's just kind of everybody's like okay, she's got a turban and you know she's here, there was never a fear of we have to leave yeah, this is not safe for us actually like.

Speaker 2:

You know that the mus Muslim community felt the same way. There was a rally around all cultures that one should not be singled out because of what happened.

Speaker 2:

That's great and in fact, what I think happened too is those communities, especially the Sikh community, said we need to be more visible, and so for me to identify as sick it's okay, Like it wasn't one of those things I needed to hide. And you know, while I'm not fully practicing, it did form a lot of my experiences in my life because I was raised by, you know, the family that I was raised by. But it never felt like Fremont wasn't a safe place.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, that's great. I love that. That's great, and I love that for my son. Yeah, I do, that's right. That's great. We'll be right back. You can hear the rest of this conversation in just a moment. We were talking a little bit about this before we started recording, but I wanted to have you give me a little bit of a plug for Fremont Bank. Have you give me a little bit of a plug for Fremont Bank? Um we, uh, fremont Bank is a current sponsor of the podcast and so, um you, you made a few uh remarks about why, uh, you bank with them with your business, and so tell me a little bit about your experience with Fremont Bank as a quasi ad for uh for them right now.

Speaker 2:

So I'm not quite a millennial, a little bit older than that. But you know, if in a hundred years ago you had told me that I'd go to the bank like once a week in person depositing stuff and deposit slips and all this kind of stuff, I would have laughed. Everything could be electronic.

Speaker 5:

Yeah that's right. You would say everything's electronic. We should automate this. No paper.

Speaker 2:

But the reality of owning your own business is you deal with cash, checks, everything. You need change for your registers. You need to go to a bank.

Speaker 4:

That's right, yeah.

Speaker 2:

And so my experience with Fremont Bank was at least you go to a bank that knows you and you know I, I would say, oh no, we're going to, I'm going to try something new. All failures, at the end of the day, that those personal relationships, um, whether it's as a business relationship or a personal relationship, they matter. You need to be able to pick up the phone, even if you want to do it over email. I mean, you can't do everything over an app, sure. And for me, when I walk into Fremont bank and everybody knows my name, it's not like cheers, there's no, there's no beer being served but there maybe is now but I will say I opened my new accounts there because I can't imagine doing business anywhere else where I need support.

Speaker 4:

That's great and Fremont.

Speaker 2:

Bank supports you.

Speaker 4:

That's great. Well, thanks for the plug in on that, and I've had a great experience with them and enjoyed getting to know the people that I've gotten to know over at the bank as well. If you need help navigating the local real estate market, contact Petrocelli Homes on Niles Boulevard. With almost two decades of experience, this family-owned brokerage is an expert in the local real estate market. Give Jennifer Petrocelli a call. With her wide ranging knowledge of the real estate industry and expert negotiation skills, jennifer goes above and beyond for her clients. Jennifer helps her clients make smart real estate decisions that benefit them in the long run. So if you're looking for a realtor who knows what they're doing and who genuinely cares about your needs and wants, reach out to Jennifer today and discover why Petrocelli Homes is the right choice for all of your real estate needs. I will give you information for Sam Choi.

Speaker 1:

He is the owner of Bit of an Press.

Speaker 5:

Oh okay.

Speaker 4:

And he his family's been here for a long time. They've owned the business there for a long time. So he told me he's like I wanted to become a sponsor on the podcast. He's like because I think it's fun. He goes, I like the podcast, so I think he'd be somebody that I'd like to have on. I've been over there a few times and talked to him. I want to tell you about Minuteman Press in Irvington. They are your quality printer to go to here in Fremont. I have personally worked with them before and I find their services to be fantastic. Look no further than Minuteman Press in Irvington no-transcript.

Speaker 1:

The Ohlone College Flea Market is happening every second Saturday of the month from 9 am to 3 pm on Ohlone's Fremont campus. Hey, van, if people want to contact you, how do they get in touch?

Speaker 5:

So our phone number is 510-659-6285 and the email is fleamarket at aloniedu. More information can be found at aloniedu slash flea dash market.

Speaker 1:

On the off chance that you are a parent with kids not yet in school but have time to listen to a podcast and listen through the ads. Just wanted to mention that Banter Bookshop has two different story times. There's a story time on Thursdays and a story time on Saturdays. The Thursday and the Saturday story times start at 10 30 am. The Banter Bookshop storytime welcomes kids of all ages. Banter Bookshop is in downtown Fremont on Capitol Avenue.

Speaker 4:

And now back to our conversation. Well, you grew up here in Fremont and then you said your dad was a pharmacist and currently you are the owner of the pharmacies here I guess the businesses here. So tell me how that happened. Like, what was it like for your dad? He was invested in the community, rooted in the community, and then now you are in that role. So tell me about that transition, that part of your life.

Speaker 2:

It's a very deep connection because, you know, my dad graduated from pharmacy school the year I was born, in 1977. He went to UOP. So he's, you know, he came to this country when he was still in high school and went to college here. So kind of a different experience for a lot of other Indian kids growing up here. Like you know, their parents went to school in India or migrated here, you know. So I have kind of odd second generation-ish parents. They're cool. I love my mom, mom and dad, I love you. But you know, in 1979, my dad, you know, was looking for something of his own and he met another very good sort of of I call earlier the Emperor of Niles, harry Avila, who you know was kind of in and out of the pharmacy business and said you know, I've got this pharmacy here across the street from the hospital. It's pretty good for a young guy like you. You know my dad was working in Hollister at the time.

Speaker 3:

We were living in Newark okay um, but you know, we knew we wanted yeah, we wanted to.

Speaker 2:

We knew we wanted to be up here, and so my dad took that opportunity. Um and uh, there was a lot of independent pharmacies at the time. We weren't like the only rodeo. Uh, there was some in Glenmore Mission. Almost every district had its own independent pharmacy yeah.

Speaker 2:

Haller's actually was the one of the bigger ones at that time. It's been there longer than we were there it's been there since 1957. And so my dad's like this is a great community. I want to raise my family here and bought that store. Funnily enough, David Beretta, who owns the building, telling me um that there was no lease on the building and so he helped my dad negotiate a pretty good deal, but that actually my dad's purchase in 1979 really helped boost um our relationship with the community okay because we were right across the street from washington Right.

Speaker 2:

It was burgeoning and coming up and you know my dad was like hey, whatever you need, I'm here.

Speaker 5:

Wow.

Speaker 2:

He even put a second line. We call it the bat line at the house After hours. They would call that line if they needed something from our pharmacy.

Speaker 5:

We were always there.

Speaker 3:

Okay.

Speaker 2:

So that idea of service really was embedded when my dad said, if I'm going to be here, I'm going to be here.

Speaker 3:

That's great.

Speaker 5:

I'm not just going to do it and then over time pharmacies.

Speaker 2:

A lot of people don't have a transition plan, so we acquired a few different smaller pharmacies there was. Washington Medical we acquired a few different, smaller pharmacies. There was Washington Medical, there was one right at 1800 at Mission. It was just smaller pharmacies. As people were retiring my dad became a very trusted person to do business with we were fair. That's great. We knew we were doing the right things with the community and somewhere in the late 80s we had the opportunity to buy Newark Howlers.

Speaker 3:

Okay.

Speaker 2:

And that was the original Howlers by the Howlers family.

Speaker 5:

Okay.

Speaker 2:

And so my dad jumped at the opportunity. They said if you can do this, we'll sell you Fremont Howlers as well.

Speaker 2:

And so Newark Howlers was on Thornton, and then Fremont Howlers was right across the street from a Holy Spirit church at the time and we said, okay, why not, let's do this, we're all in, and so it was just kind of this thing that just became our. It just became our MO. We're going to be the pharmacy this community, especially because of Washington Township, and you should have somebody from Washington in to talk about how Washington Hospital came, having those supporting services like an independent pharmacy. We used to be seven days a week, 365 days a year, and so it was always that you needed a pharmacy to support a hospital like that and so you know, as Washington Township grew, haller's grew and the name grew and a lot of people don't know we own Murray Medical, murray Plaza, the medical supply, and Haller's.

Speaker 2:

We never changed the names just because you know. It was just the way you do business, but it was always the same level of service.

Speaker 4:

That's great. That's great. So, speaking of level of service, how did you guys fare during COVID, or how is it that you, how do you feel and I know you're speaking, you're kind of tooting your own horn but how is it that you feel that you do compared to some of the big the chains out there and stuff? What is it that you feel that you do compared to, say, some of the big the chain the chains out there and stuff? Like, what is it that makes you guys stand out, as in your different pharmacies that you have around the area?

Speaker 2:

So a little bit to go backwards. You know I spent my career in tech and my dad's like I'm ready to be done with this, and my brother, who is a pharmacist, like I don't know if I could do all of this. So I said I'll take a leave of absence, and I took a leave of absence in 2018. And started looking at the business.

Speaker 4:

So you weren't involved in, like it was your dad's thing. Your brother was kind of involved a little bit, but you were doing something completely different.

Speaker 2:

Completely different. I worked 20 years in tech at ibm. Okay, like, okay, yeah, total corporate yeah you know wore a blue suit kind of stuff, so in 2018 that's when you started looking at you know what can we do?

Speaker 2:

yeah took a leave of leave of absence and started looking at what you could do, okay yeah, and then in 2019 we made a decision that you know maybe it's time to transition the pharmacies and you know my family and's time to transition the pharmacies and you know my family and I decided because I had the business background I'll take over the stores. And so 2019, we're going through this transition. I'm learning about pharmacy, I'm relying a lot on my staff and we're just kind of going through. You know growing pains, you know people like Heller's. You're still around my grandma went to hellers.

Speaker 2:

That's what I, when I joined the chamber. It was like hellers, oh, you guys are still there. I had a walker for my mom like 10 years ago from there, so I was like, yeah, we're still there and we've got these other places. And then, you know, as I was kind of getting into my groove, like you said, the pandemic hit yeah and you know, because I wasn't a pharmacist, I was getting more and more involved in the community, like the chamber, niles rotary, like just because I couldn't work the pharmacy I can't dispense drugs please don't ask me for drug advice.

Speaker 2:

It's, I play one on tv I'm really not a pharmacist, uh, but people still ask me but um? So when the pandemic hit uh, I was telling you the story earlier that um, one of our stores actually had the first case of covet in monterey county wow and we were first known case and I didn't know what to do yeah and I told you we hired somebody who does like blood and guts cleaning because we're in, we were an essential business oh wow, yeah and I couldn't close the doors.

Speaker 3:

Sure.

Speaker 2:

People's prescriptions were sitting there, medications were sitting there, their vaccines were sitting there. We couldn't just close up, and that experience down in Monterey County kind of guided what I needed to do up here in. Fremont. This community wasn't any different than any other community being affected right now yeah and so we signed up for every program.

Speaker 2:

Um, you know, at that time we applied for waivers to do testing. Um, you know, there were no vaccines. Yeah, uh, we did drive up. We, you know, made sure our delivery was intact. I hired extra delivery drivers, you know, we wanted to make sure everybody got their medications. We, you know, not only medications, we also do medical supplies, like ostomy, you know, for people who have, you know, the bags and they need the, you know, they need their wound care. I mean, this isn't stuff you could just buy off.

Speaker 2:

Amazon all the time and so we needed to be open and my staff were afraid and the other thing was masks and gloves and where.

Speaker 4:

I was Toilet paper.

Speaker 2:

Toilet paper exactly.

Speaker 4:

Hand sanitizer.

Speaker 2:

We actually made our own hand sanitizer in our compounding lab because we said we need to stay open. Who else?

Speaker 5:

needs hand sanitizer.

Speaker 2:

And some people said you're a price gouge. I only charged whatever I was getting it for whatever the cost was. My brother drove to LA one time to get these Korean masks. That became really popular. He drove in the morning and drove back.

Speaker 5:

Oh, my word.

Speaker 2:

Because he had a friend down there and so we was all hands on deck Wow, wow, oh my word. Because he had a friend down there and so we was all hands on deck Wow wow. But what that experience taught me is you know in between that the organizations that needed masks or to stay open, that weren't getting it, we donated. I had a friend of my brother's whose mom started sewing masks.

Speaker 5:

Wow.

Speaker 2:

And we started selling them and we donated everything to Life Elder Care because we said these patients or these people are sitting at home and they need their medication, they need their food, because they can't leave the house. So, we just said, okay, we're going to give it back.

Speaker 4:

Give it back. That's great, and so things went well for you during COVID. I guess in that way, you were able to take the initiative to do what you needed to do in order to make that happen. But did you have, did you experience, any kind of flux? I mean, you were an essential business, so there's that part of it but did you feel any any strain one way or the other during during that time?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I mean, I think the thing is, you know, everybody did right. Everybody felt like what, what do we do? And you know everybody did right everybody felt like what, what do we do? Yeah, and you know, my focus at that time was to be proactive. This can't be the forever state sure right um, you know we we heard that vaccines were coming out. You know we knew that they were going to be under sub-zero temperatures yeah the fridge cost, freezer cost, you know, $10,000 or something like crazy like that.

Speaker 2:

I'm really grateful for the fact that I was in a city like Fremont because I knew so many resources to reach out to. It was easier to go and say look, we're preparing for the influx of vaccines, we need access to this.

Speaker 5:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

And the city, the county, the state, the government really came through. But you know I had to put the work in.

Speaker 4:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

But I felt so supported in this city. I don't know, you know. I told you we own stores in this city. I don't know, you know. I told you we've we own stores in other cities. Fremont just became this, wow. That's great Like the best story I love this is the story that, um, why I love Fremont is, uh, in the early days you guys all remember when vaccines were going to expire and you got the one that fell off the truck if you were lucky and calling pharmacies.

Speaker 2:

Well, the county said we have about 220 vaccines that are going to expire on Monday.

Speaker 5:

Wow.

Speaker 2:

And it was Wednesday night, it was 9 o'clock. I'm looking at my phone. I'm like is the Pope Catholic? I'm taking these. Yeah, yeah, I know nobody else is up. Yeah, I know nobody else is up, yeah. I said we'll got them. There's somebody to pick them up. We're going to drive to Alameda County Health Department. We'll pick them up.

Speaker 5:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

I had no idea what I was going to do with them. No idea, and then called the mayor because you can do that in Fremont. Not everybody, but I will say this Our city is accessible.

Speaker 3:

That's right.

Speaker 2:

And she put us in touch with the fire department who said we need our fire department is vaccinated, but there's a few that didn't get it, and then our police department is lower down on the list. Can you do this is?

Speaker 3:

lower down on the list. Can you do?

Speaker 2:

this and in two days we did a drive-through clinic on a Saturday and vaccinated almost 250 people.

Speaker 3:

And this was.

Speaker 2:

January of 2021.

Speaker 4:

Wow. So it was early days, very early on. Wow, that's crazy. You have been in a significant role in the chamber of Commerce for a couple years, so what was your role in the chamber?

Speaker 2:

I was the chair.

Speaker 4:

Chair. Okay, and then you just mentioned also before we started recording, that you were on the PTA for Missions and Rehabilitation Missions. So what else do you do? Like, what else do you do?

Speaker 2:

Well, I'm also on the Planning Commission, it's not my fault. Well, I'm also on the Planning Commission, it's not my fault, but early on, when I was younger in Fremont and I learned how. Fremont was run and I kind of made a conscious decision that I don't know if I have to be political, but I do want to have a voice. The Planning Commission was something that I really felt like. It guides the way a city looks feels and acts.

Speaker 2:

You know you still have to permit things and the state makes us do things and it's really hard. But bringing that voice of somebody who grew up here, whose son is growing up here, who's involved in the community, I just felt like that's where I could apply my skills and so it's been. It's hard, like I said, don't blame me, but I always tell my son there's a method to my madness, because he's like you're always in meetings, you're on a board meeting. He's like you know what are you doing and I you know. As he got older and there was less things to do with him, you know, and Ricky, you've seen him everywhere with me, you know.

Speaker 2:

And he's like can you not go anywhere and talk to people? And I said you know, there's a little bit of. There's a method to this. Because when, when I came back, I always think about coming back, even though I was living here before I took over the pharmacies. But I always say I came back when I really got involved in the pharmacies and the chamber was my first place. I went actually Niles Rotary, sorry.

Speaker 5:

Niles Rotary family my dad- forced me.

Speaker 2:

No, I love Nilesiles road but it was this thing. My dad said if you come, you have to take thursdays off. Come to lunch with these people. They sing yeah, you guys all have to experience niles road yeah, that's right please otherwise I'm gonna get in fine for not saying it but it was like I was a privilege.

Speaker 4:

I had the privilege of being, uh, being a speaker one one time.

Speaker 2:

It was a great experience, but it was thing, the way my dad trained me to say you got to do Niles roadie, okay. Then it was the chamber and then it was school, because Aiden, uh, sorry, I didn't, I mentioned you, um, but uh, the thing was. It was like I said, the method was, as you see, the need, you have the skills, you have the drive and, like you and I were talking about before, I'm not going anywhere.

Speaker 4:

Right right.

Speaker 2:

You know, I'm a homeowner, thankfully here, I'm a business owner here, my friends are here, I'm invested here. So it is kind of I feel like you know, when you see that opportunity, like, as you know, the PTA, the opportunity was, you know, I actually went to mission for a year. Both my brothers went to mission, my cousins went to mission. So mission was part of my DNA. So it's kind of like it was a natural I'm going to get involved because I can bridge that gap between parents who are going through it and who went through it. And so I think, if you want to talk about what makes Fremont happy, I think there's that uniqueness in Fremont that there is more of that than we see when we go to events, whether it's Street Eats or the festival, or I even went to an engineering day thing you know Fremont brings together that community.

Speaker 4:

They do yeah.

Speaker 2:

And you know, the more we can say that it's inviting it's, the more happier we are.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, that's right, I think the invitingness.

Speaker 2:

That's right, that's even a word. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Speaker 4:

That's exactly right. You know, something you just said caused me to have a little bit of an epiphany. I was just thinking about this. I think that when we think about happiness and when we think about a good community, we think about it. I think we think about it in a limited way. I think we think about it in an immediate, somewhat almost a temporary way. In other words, we're so used to everything being accessible so easily and so quickly these days.

Speaker 4:

The thing that made me think about it is you said you know, your dad invested, started these business. You're a business owner, you're a homeowner, and I'm thinking about that. I'm thinking that's and I'm not saying that you didn't do anything, and I'm saying that it wasn't your work and your investment but part of the reason why you could do that is because you have a multi-generational legacy and foundation in which you can stand, and so there's a sense in which I think there's two ways to look at this. As you were talking this is what was coming to my mind is that you're realizing that perhaps your role in our community is to be responsible for what was built on the foundation that the previous generations left you and the way that you're going to make Fremont continue to last is by taking the responsibility seriously to make the best use of what was created for you, created by them, that you've now taken over, and make the best of it, make it last, make it, make it make a difference in the community.

Speaker 4:

And I do think that that's one of the things in looking to the future. For people who are here I would say, like myself, it's like do I need to think about what I'm doing now in this community to be something that I'm only looking for temporary results or immediate results, or am I looking to help create something for the next generation? And I think that that's something. I think, having that holistic, you know, being a caretaker of not even a caretaker, being an inheritor, I guess, a recipient of a beneficiary of the past generation and what they've given to us, looking at what we have now and then looking at how what we're doing is going to last long after we're gone, I think that's, I think it's a mindset that we have to take and I honestly think that might be part of the secret to you know, the happiness that exists within our community.

Speaker 2:

I agree because you know you talked a lot about my dad and kind of he's in the front. But my mom was this sort of undercover ninja, if you will, who you know coming. You know got married, came to the California from Canada, moved you know, immigrated from India first and you know was new here. She dove, had in and you know felt so comfortable here in Fremont, signed us up for all the classes, soccer, everything. You know that everybody's doing still and you know didn't feel like an outsider, made friends here in watching my mom, you know, completely in a new place, be this strong and having both my dad and my mom and then my grandparents they lived around the corner from us. You're right, the multi-generational part of it really instills that piece of it and I think, if you know, for those of you don't have that here in fremont, think about everybody else who came. Why do you think the districts and all of that history it's really important because it's built on those families that's right and they were multi-generational.

Speaker 2:

If you're new here, you're getting to benefit from their legacies if that makes sense, that that was hard work multi-generationally. And I look at you know what my grandparents did, what my mom did, what my dad did, and now what we're we're doing. It's just kind of. That's why Fremont can be the way it is, because there's legacy and there's growth.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, that's right, that's great, and I think that that's something that we need to remember as a city is that we are the beneficiary we are all, not just you, we are all beneficiaries of the generations before us.

Speaker 4:

So that's one of the reasons why we can appreciate Niles, or we can appreciate Centerville, or we can appreciate Irvington or Mission, san Jose or any of the districts, because they were all individual communities with generational establishment in those places, and so we all, as a newcomer, we're beneficiaries of, of of what's happened generation after generation, and I think that we need to be thinking about not, yes, we need to be thinking about what's happening now, who we are now, because I do think that that's so important. I think sometimes we lose, you know. We think about what we've been, we imagine what we can be, we, we and we don't take, I guess, in some sense, pride or joy in in who we are, um, and I think we need to do that as well, but I think we also need to not be so short sighted that we just think about am I happy right now, but am I in a place that I'm investing in, the happiness you know longterm that that exists here?

Speaker 2:

And is that place investing in my happiness?

Speaker 4:

That's right.

Speaker 2:

You invest in the places investing for you because I I see so much of why I choose to raise my son here and, you know, go anywhere. It didn't have to come back, like I said, but being back here, my family's here, the places I grew up are here. I can share those experiences with them. My brother can share his experience with my son and I could share it with his kids. It is very unique and in California, of all places, you think that you get this in small towns, but F you know California, fremont is the biggest small town, that's right.

Speaker 4:

That's right. Well, I don't know exactly what all you've been doing and how invest what it all looks like. You've been investing but you invent, invested in, I guess what I could say a campaign regarding fentanyl use or opioid use. Can you tell me a little bit about that? What is it that brought that about? And tell me a little bit about what you're doing with that?

Speaker 2:

Yeah. So you know one thing it might be unique for people to think about a pharmacy doing these campaigns or pharmacists. And so, you know, a couple of years ago, especially after you know a couple years ago, especially after you know, we started doing vaccines, we started to realize the role of pharmacy and pharmacists in the community and about getting messages out, and we were trying to hone those messages in. Well, unfortunately, my brother passed away last year from mental illness, but he did it through a purposeful fentanyl overdose. He went to San Francisco, knew exactly what he was doing, knew exactly what was going to happen, as much as he was aware he was, I don't know, hoping or wasn't quite sure what it could do to him, but knew completely about something called Narcan.

Speaker 2:

And for those of you who don't know, narcan is the nasal spray that has become widely available over the counter anywhere to help with opioid overdoses. And my recommendations everybody should have one in their car, their house, everywhere, because opioid abuse isn't just fentanyl, it could be, you know, prescription drugs that are taken accidentally. You know a senior says, oh, I took my pain meds and then takes two more because they forgot. And so you know, one of the things is, you know, like I said, I like to do things.

Speaker 5:

I can't just sit there.

Speaker 2:

One of the things is, like I said, I like to do things, I can't just sit there, and while mental health was ultimately what took my brother, this was a low-hanging fruit, I would say. So we partnered with a nonprofit and you can go to the Howler's website.

Speaker 4:

I'll plug the Howler's website a little bit and we'll put it in the show notes for sure.

Speaker 2:

That you can get your free kits at that pharmacy. We've handed out over 1,000 kits in Fremont. You can find us at Street Eats. You'll find us at the Pride events. You'll pretty much find us everywhere. Because my personal belief is nobody should have to, even accidentally or purposely, have to go through that and it is an epidemic. We've been through a pandemic and anything that us as a community can do, you can't ignore it. You can't say that well, my kids don't do drugs, I don't do drugs, but you never know. You never know. And this is so simple, so free. You know I was talking to somebody, you know, with pain medication, abuse and everything that's happened in the. Why this is free is, if you guys understand, is there was all those settlements right?

Speaker 4:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

So the people who created this problem are now helping to fix this problem and we are the vessel to help fix this problem.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, wow, yeah. So if anybody is interested in this, you said that people can pick up kits and stuff like that, but what are some other ways that people can become more informed about this? What are some things that they can do to become more aware and maybe be involved in in helping with this problem in the community?

Speaker 2:

So you know there's a couple of ways. One is inside the kits or in addition to the kits you can get fentanyl test strips. There's a lot of fake drugs out there. Um, I am so worried about you know and mom dad don't listen you know we experimentation and things. You know there's it's not safe out there yeah, right and so we offer fentanyl test strips to make sure whatever you're getting isn't, uh, fake or laced with fentanyl, and that, I think, is really, really important, especially if you're going off the grid yeah, yeah second of all, get rid of the drugs in your medicine cabinet.

Speaker 2:

You are not a pharmacist, you are not a doctor If you are prescribed something for that particular issue and that issue is gone get rid of it. We have drug take-back programs. In the pharmacy there's a bin. You might say oh well, maybe I need that pill one day. You don't know who's going to be in your house and take those pills.

Speaker 2:

So that's another one. And um, just train yourself on narcan. Any human can do it. It doesn't take a lot. There's a good samaritan law in california. You're not going to get in trouble. You can't hurt anybody and the good samaritan law protects you that if you're trying to help somebody who's in need, you're protected. So don't worry, I'm going to stand back and watch this person overdose.

Speaker 2:

If you have the capability to help them. And that's that's why we want to get the information out there, because I think so many people are scared or taboo about any of these topics and you know I'll put a plug in for my pharmacist that's I've been trying to bring this kind of awareness to all of my pharmacies and my staff to say, look, somebody comes in, they're coming and they need help, don't judge them. We did it, even a needle exchange program about a year and a half ago, and first my pharmacist like I don't want these drug addicts in my pharmacy and I said don't judge.

Speaker 5:

You don't know what somebody's going through.

Speaker 2:

And it was very successful because they were opening a conversation. So keep that conversation with your healthcare professional.

Speaker 4:

That's great. That's great. Well, thank you for doing that and thank you for raising the awareness. For me and for the community. That's great. Jasmine, thank you so much for being on the podcast and thank you for your support, your encouragement, I do think of. I think oftentimes when I'm feeling weary and exhausted from and I'm kind of overreacting, I guess, a little bit, but in the moments where I'm getting frustrated about like what is it that I need to cut and what is it worth it, and there are things that you've said over the last couple of years that have just encouraged me and kind of kept me going. So I appreciate your support and your encouragement regarding the podcast and now, it's been a great joy to have you as a guest on the podcast. So thank you for being here with me today.

Speaker 2:

Thank you for having me.

Speaker 3:

This episode was hosted and produced by Ricky B. I'm Gary Williams, andrew Kvet is the editor. Scheduling and pre-interviews by Sarah S. Be sure to subscribe wherever it is that you listen so you don't miss an episode. You can find everything we make, the podcast and all of our social media links at thefremontpodcastcom. Join us next week on the Fremont Podcast.

Speaker 5:

This is a Muggins Media Podcast. You.

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