History & Mission
“Swipes for the Homeless” was founded as a university-recognized student group at UCLA in September 2009 by UCLA sophomore Bryan Pezeshki. Pezeshki asked students to go directly into university dining halls, “swipe” meals to go, which he and a few friends would then deliver to the local homeless population. In December 2009, he was joined by Thach “Tak” Nguyen, a student government council member, whose office combined efforts with Bryan to expand upon the scope and impact of Swipes for the Homeless. They institutionalized the program and established an agreement with dining services to allow students to donate their meal swipes. The meal swipes are then transferred into non-perishable goods and delivered to the local homeless population. In its first year, Swipes for the Homeless at UCLA collected over 10,000 pounds of food and in its past two years has reached over 30,000 pounds, while becoming one of the most recognized groups on the public university campus.
This quickly led to its expansion onto several college campuses worldwide, amongst those being USC, UC and University of Paris in France. In April of 2012, after a nationwide search and vetting of thousands of applicants, President Obama recognized our organization as one of five “Champions of Change,” personally inviting our group to the White House to honor us for our impact on the community. “Swipes” has since become a state-certified 501(c)3 non- profit organization with the aim of spreading its impact on to every campus in the world.
Swipes for the Homeless is an international, 501(c)3 non-profit organization consisting of a coalition of university and college chapters located throughout the world. Our dual mission is to tangibly and tactically partner with college campuses to alleviate hunger while raising young people’s awareness of homelessness and hunger through education and outreach.
Board of Directors
Thach (or “Tak”) Nguyen is co-founder and currently serves as Executive Director, leading the organization’s overall strategy and operations management. Tak’s passion for “Swipes” stems from his humble beginnings immigrating to the United States coupled with his deep interest in student development. Currently residing in San Francisco, Tak works within Executive Recruitment for JcPenney at a job that he can only describe as “the best job in the world.” Outside of work and “Swipes,” Tak likes to regularly gym, hike, and explore the nightlife in SF. He also really enjoys sushi.Rachel Sumekh serves as Director of Chapter Development and is the first point of contact for those wanting to create or develop a Swipes for the Homeless on their campus. After serving as President of “Swipes” at UCLA in 2012, Rachel’s passion for service naturally led her to join the Avodah Service Corps in Chicago where she works at Inspiration Corporation with those facing homelessness and poverty. She is inspired by supporting others in becoming catalysts for their own self-reliance. Emails from prospective students asking about creating a new chapter or getting involved are Rachel’s most preferred types of messages.
Rustom Z Birdie, our Director of Donations and Sponsorships, is responsible for the overall financial outlook at “Swipes”. This includes fundraising, continued fiscal stability for our chapters, as well as managing operational funding needs. Rustom’s passion for service and community engagement stems from the years spent in his motherland, Pakistan, where he’s humbled by the daily struggles of the destitute. He was also one of the founding members of “Swipes” at UCLA, from where he graduated in 2012, and has seen the organization grow from modest beginnings into an ambitious, compelling agent of change in local communities. Now residing in Boston, MA, Rustom is currently a first-year Associate at LEK Consulting LLC. Outside of work and “Swipes”, Rustom is an avid sports, food and aviation enthusiast.
Deena Dulgerian currently serves as the Director of Operations and Compliance. Just recently graduating in June 2012 and having taken the LSAT shortly thereafter, Deena plans on taking a few years off from applying to law schools to work on the ground-level of non-profits and humanitarian organizations to better prepare herself for a career in legal advocacy. She was active in two organizations while at UCLA that focused on changing the lives of children from low-income communities through mentoring and a summer camp experience. She prides herself on her Armenian heritage and can spend hours on end talking about her travels, the Beatles, or random facts about Greek mythology unknown to most of man-kind.Jose M Iniguez, Director of Media, is charged with “Swipes” online and media strategy — from website and social media to branding and design. He graduated from UCLA in 2008 and worked with UCLA Residence Life for two years, where he first started working with “Swipes” advising student organizers. Currently, he uses MTV’s superpowers for good as Associate Editor of the MTV Act Blog. He is passionate about empowering youth in disadvantaged communities to achieve their full potential, and is equally passionate about empowering others to help achieve that. He is a lover of all things Latin, spicy, flawless, and fierce — like JLo, for example. Natalie Gonzalez sits on the Board as the Director of Community Engagement. She’s responsible for maintaining the network of chapters and providing support to them throughout the year. Service and giving are her main passions, whether it’s donating to the local church, donating blood, or volunteering at the local LGBT center. A Southern CA girl through and through, she spends her time in sunny Los Angeles going to farmer’s markets, checking out cool concerts, rooting for the UCLA Bruins and dining at thai food restaurants, her favorite. Jennifer Ching currently serves as Director of External Affairs and manages all outside communications for “Swipes,” including public relations and outreach. Growing up with a passion for public service and the environment, nothing made her happier than an opportunity to serve the community while reducing food waste at the same time! An international affairs junkie, Jennifer works as the program assistant for the Burkle Global Impact Initiative, an effort under the UCLA Burkle Center for International Relations that works with the United Nations at connecting the entertainment industry to global issues. When not discussing recent international politics or “Swipes” public relations strategies, you will most likely find her either camping, hiking, or practicing yoga.
of food donated as of
Press & Accomplishments
External Affairs and Press: