The Young Philanthropists Of Johns Creek

The Young Philanthropists Of Johns Creek

Johns Creek holds several people who strive to help make their community a better place.

Philanthropy has become more popular as the world becomes more integrated and connected. We see several renowned philanthropists who work to help other people in several causes, like Bill Gates with basic necessities aid in third-world countries and Malala Yousafzai with girl's education advocacy. Johns Creek also holds several people who strive to help make their community a better place, but they aren't billionaires or world leaders; they are regular high school and college students with a vision to accomplish. Here are some of the young philanthropists of Johns Creek.

Will To Live Foundation

Tommy Trautwein is one of the founders and leading youth figures of the Will To Live Foundation, an organization dedicated to prevent teen suicide by improving the lives of teenagers through mental health education and emphasis of love and hope, and Club Will-to-Live at Northview High School. The Trautwein family formed the Will To Live Foundation after the suicide death of Tommy Trautwein’s brother Will Trautwein in 2010, when the Trautweins decided to turn the otherwise devastating situation into something positive.

That positivity pervades Will To Live’s regularly hosted events benefiting those needing support. Last month, Northview High School’s Club Will To Live teamed up with another Northview club, Make-A-Wish, to host “Wish Night,” raising the money needed to “Grant a Wish” of a local girl to send her and her family on a Hawaii getaway. The club also hosted a “Rock for Ramzy” event after a friend of the foundation’s, Ramzy Stripling, began having trouble with his colon but was having financial trouble with his medication due to the passing of his father the past year. The concert, featuring live music from local acts, raised ten thousand dollars for the cause, helping Stripling pay for his medication. Outside of its many specifically designated events, any money the foundation receives funds the education of teachers and counselors to learn to recognize the signs of potential suicide and what to look for.

“We realized that the subject of suicide was really not talked about that much, so we really wanted to let everyone know that it’s really a problem that does need to be talked about,” Tommy Trautwein explains. “My dad, the founder, just figured, what better way to spread the message of love and hope than through the kids and for the kids throughout your schools, throughout your fellow friends and loved ones?”

He poses a valid question. “Life Teammates” believing in the cause live up to the foundation’s motto, “For the kids, Through the kids, By the kids,” by being able to relate to others just like them.

“Nobody knows the high schooler struggle better than a high schooler, you know?” Trautwein himself seems impressed by the efficacy. “The kids handle it so well, and they’re so passionate about it that there’s really not that many problems,” he muses. “It’s for such a good cause, and it’s so easy to do it and be passionate about it.”

He hopes that infectious passion can take Will To Live even further than the incredible bounds the cause has already taken. The foundation has been featured across numerous major news sources like CBS and CNN News and even a TEDTalk by founder John Trautwein, but Tommy Trautwein is looking to begin Will To Live involvement at the University of Georgia, where he will be attending school in the fall.

“I’m sure that people would grasp onto it,” he asserts. “Just to keep this message getting bigger and bigger, just to help in any way, if any fraction we can save lives, that’s more than enough.”

CRY America

Aarushi Jain is the founder and Student Lead of CRY (Child Rights and You) Atlanta Action Center, a student-led chapter of CRY America dedicated to ensuring child rights in third-world countries, especially India. Aarushi started CRY Atlanta back in 2014 in hopes to get every child around the word to have the same privileges that she is given. Since then, she has been advocating for child rights for all in her community through the chapter.

“I’ve always been so blessed, and we live in Johns Creek. We have so many opportunities; we have so many things around us. And I always go to India every year, so whenever I do go, I see always people on the roads; I see little children not being able to school and not having an education, and it’s really sad,” Aarushi explains. “Like we get such an awesome education. I feel like I should give back to the community, and do something.”


CRY Atlanta has hosted many events in order to raise money for several small villages in such countries like India and spread awareness in order to support the fight for child rights. A couple months back, CRY Atlanta hosted their second annual CRY Holi, where many people celebrate the Indian festival of colors by and throwing colored powder at each other and having fun. The organization has also hosted its CRY Walk for Child Rights, the most notable event for CRY. The event, consisting primarily of a mile walk, music and food, has brought about a couple hundred people to help the cause. Overall, the organization has raised about fifteen thousand dollars from the events to help support the cause.

To start an organization from scratch is very difficult unless you give the effort to nurture and develop it, even when people leave in the beginning. “I think getting this organization started, making it big, was kind of a conflict. I was going to do this organization with a couple of my friends, but then they backed out, and then they thought that we wouldn’t be able to do it; but through perseverance and patience, we worked through it,” Aarushi recalled. “In the end, it took two years to get [CRY Atlanta] going. We are pretty much a well-known organization.”

CRY Atlanta has been featured frequently on news sources like TV ASIA and Khabar magazine. Aarushi hopes, in the future, to get a hands-on experience at many of the projects for child rights in India. “I just want to make a difference in the world,” she added. “I want everyone else to have an equal chance at living the best life they can live."

First Aid For All

Amal Bhatnagar is the founder of the non-profit First Aid for All (FAFA), a student-led organization driven to alleviate medical inequality globally. He started FAFA during his sophomore year of high school after witnessing a lot of poverty in Georgia and other countries, like Mexico and India.

“I’d always see people [in these regions] who wouldn’t have enough of basic resources, such as food, water, shelter, etc.,” Amal explained. “I felt somewhat responsible for this; we, as humans, how can we allow this to happen?”

As a result, he started the organization to focus on the medical inequality in the world.

First Aid for All has been able to work closer to its goals by utilizing a four-way approach: distributing first aid kits, fundraising, volunteering and spreading awareness. For distributing the first aid kits, FAFA has worked with around 13,000 pounds of medical supplies which have impacted the lives of over 320 people; the organization has also held supply drives, where they, for example, received a large donation from Augusta University.

“We also try to connect with different organizations, so, using that, we get the first aid kits, and then we go around to different places to distribute them, such as Atlanta and Athens,” he explained. “Also over spring break, one of our members went to India…He went to the slums of India, and he gave clothes to the locals there so they could support themselves.”

For fundraising, FAFA partnered with several groups like the Atlanta Braves last summer and the World’s Finest Chocolates now to gain funds through sales to help support the projects.

For volunteering, FAFA works with MedShare, where the members help sort and package thousands of medical supplies to be distributed to several needed areas.

For spreading awareness, FAFA has educational talks with community members, like teens in Athens and the elderly in Sunrise Johns Creek and even the Johns Creek City Council, in order to spread their message.

Amal hopes to makes sure that everyone has better access to medical resources and to spread awareness about poverty, especially medical poverty. He feels that starting young in philanthropy can allow more peers to rise up to help out the community and does impress many adults, but it creates limitations in access to resources to expand the efforts to help others.

“What I’ve learned from that is that age doesn’t necessarily matter if you have the passion and the drive to do something,” Amal asserted. “I’m pretty sure you can do it.”

Jr. Hotshots

Grace Hebermehl is the founder of Jr. Hotshots, a basketball camp for 4th to 8th graders with several instructors, and the revenue gained goes to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. She started the camp as a small project, which then continued as she started enjoyed her experience with leading the program. She really wants to let other kids learn what she loves: sports.

Her primary focus is to help give an opportunity for the kids to learn how to play a sport, but Grace uses that opportunity to her advantage by donating the money earned from the camp to a respectable organization, so it goes to good use.

The Jr. Hotshots camp held a diverse groups of kids who have never played before. Although new, it also attracted many eager children who wanted to play basketball.

“These kids have never played basketball before, so we had three kids transfer from soccer…” Grace recalled. “We had a kid who turned down an Olympic woman who was hosting another basketball camp and came to mine. It was great.”

Grace was able to do what she loved and spread that feeling with other kids who were willing to try a new skill.

“I did it and I realized I really love seeing the kids grow and smile and love how to learn to play it,” Grace remarked. “I like to play sports; I like to see other kids learn to play it.”


Philanthropy is not an idea that only billionaires can act upon. Many people start up their ways to improve their communities through passion and motivation, holding the desire to give the opportunities and resources they were given to those that were not so fortunate before. These students are no exception. If you have the desire to help out those in need, even the slightest, don't hesitate to do something. Any steps taken can help make this world a better place


This article has been co-authored by Amy Jiang.

Cover Image Credit: Shreyas Kumar

Popular Right Now

you put me through my absolute hell, and I for years thought it was love: an open letter to the boy who once held my heart.

you put me through my absolute hell, and I for years thought it was love: an open letter to the boy who once held my heart.

You put me through my absolute hell, and I for years, thought it was love.

an open letter to the boy who once held my heart,

you know who you are. you knew this was inevitable.  you no longer hold the power to hurt me. this is not for you, it is for me. I have come so far in the last 3 months and I am never going back to the mindset you ever so carefully placed me in for 4 1/2 years.

(the following is the letter I sent him, in the envelope was my promise ring that was given to me on my birthday)

d,

I have been contemplating how to fully part from you and I didn't feel right going in silence. I have moved on with my life and am not writing this to you in hopes of rekindling anything. I am the happiest I've been in years because thanks to you, I know what I am worth. I surround myself with people who deserve me, and people who I deserve in return. I took 4 1/2 years of emotional and verbal abuse and grew from it instead of letting it define me or drag me down. the best thing I ever did for myself was to truly let you go. 

I was so attached to the person I fell in love with when I was 14 years old. the person who loved me more than themself, and always chose me. you and I had something that completely changed my life, made me a hopeless romantic and truly made me have hope for not only my own future but our future as partners in life. 

over the last 4 years I have given you every fiber of my body. I have lost friends, had broken relationships with my parents and left everyone and everything I knew because I always chose you. unfortunately, you never fully allowed yourself to choose me.

I will never forgive you for sleeping with Leviah, a mother to a 2 year old girl, while I was at home, 8 weeks pregnant with your child. All because I "made you upset".

 I will never forgive you for turning your back to me as I laid on the bathroom floor screaming and crying in pain because the loss of your child was too much for my fragile body to handle.

 I will never forgive you for saying you couldn't drive me to the hospital, as I was unable to drive due to the pain medication I was taking, because you "had to go to work". Nothing broke my heart more than finding out you instead took the day off and got high with your friends. Completely abandoning me as I went through the most traumatic experience of my life all alone.

 I will never forgive you for leaving me in that cold and empty emergency room while you got dinner with your friend, ignoring not only my calls and texts, but the ones coming from your family members begging you to come comfort me. 

I will never forgive you for striking me in the face and claiming it was okay because I "made you upset". 

I will never forgive you for the years of emotional and verbal abuse, making me feel like it was all my fault, because something that I did "made you upset".

Everything I ever "forgave" you for, turned a blind eye to, said "its okay, I love you too", was an absolute lie. I have forced myself to take the blame for every single thing that has ever happened to us because I believed it would all work out in the end. I have resorted to physical harm to myself to deal with the pain you have caused me due to your cruel tactic of making yourself the victim time and time again. You walked all over me because you made me weak enough that I wouldn't be able to stand on my own two feet if you left me. This only caused you to push more and more boundaries.

The only people left in your life are people you continue to manipulate and treat with absolutely no respect. They love you too much to walk away from you, that is because they are your blood. You need to learn a lesson from this, me being the girl that was the "love of your life", someone you "couldn't live without". I have sat with you on the floor of the bathroom not only on the phone, but in person, begging you to not take your own life. I have seen you at your darkest and the way you are acting now is not withholding you from going back to that place. I promise you if you continue to live your life this way, you're going to have burned all of your bridges with the people who will see past every sin you have sinned and every crime you've committed. 

I would loved to have loved you until the very end of this life,  but you broke me down to the deepest and darkest place of my life. Some things are just too difficult to bear. I used to cry about how amazing you were to my friends, saying how you've been there for me at my darkest nights, only to realize the only reason you were there with me is because you put me there. 

I pray and hope you get your life together, make your wrongs right, before it is too late. You will always be a thought in the back of my mind, but don't think for a second that I will ever allow you back into my life ever again.

I wish nothing but the best for you. You have so much potential that could be used for good instead of evil. 

Please love your parents and family until the day you leave this earth. You lucked out with the people who have been placed in your life and should count your blessings everyday that they haven't walked out despite the many reasons you've shown them to do so. 

Please learn that love isn't a mind game you get to play with people. People aren't disposable, you cannot continue to use people until they're no longer useful to you and decided to throw them out.

Thank you for being my first love, you taught me more than I ever thought I would know about love by age 18.

We are going in separate directions for a reason and I'm taking all I learned with me. You put me through my absolute hell, and I for years, thought it was love. I have finally escaped that hell.

once always yours,

m.

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Where Would MLK Stand on Immigration Today?

The evidence will surprise you.

With DACA on the verge of expiring if no negotiation proceeds, immigration has been a common topic in the news and on social media. And with MLK Day quickly approaching, many have been quick to assume what Martin Luther King’s stance on immigration would be today. Although there is merit to some of the arguments that proclaim that he would be an avid advocate on the side of DACA and undocumented immigrants, the limited details that one could use to assume his position are more nuanced and suggest that, at best, he would support these issues in rhetoric alone, leaving his main fight to be on behalf of the black community.

Before dissecting the nuances of his plausible stance, I recommend taking this argument – and any presumptuous, theoretical arguments such as this – with a grain of salt as the evidence used to make these claims are limited and the conclusions far-reaching.

Nonetheless, the argument for King supporting immigration and undocumented immigrants has some credibility as many quotes from King’s speeches and writings can be referenced to bolster this position:

"One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws," King said in "Letter From a Birmingham Jail."

"Any law that uplifts the human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust." "Letter From a Birmingham Jail"

"Noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good. ... To accept injustice or segregation passively is to say to the oppressor that his actions are morally right." King wrote in his essay "Three Ways of Meeting Oppression."

But is siding against immigration morally wrong? Contrary to what multiple political pundits and commentators have espoused, there is substantial evidence of the negative externalities of immigration – particularly, on the black community.

In a study published in the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), contributing authors concluded that “The 1980-2000 immigrant influx, therefore… explains about 20 to 60 percent of the decline in wages, 25 percent of the decline in employment, and about 10 percent of the rise in incarceration rates among blacks with a high school education or less.”

The harm that immigration could have on the black community was not lost on civil rights leaders that came before King. Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B, Dubois, A. Phillip Randolph, and multiple black media outlets and organizations publicly denounced the elites business model of “cheap labor” that preferred the work of immigrants to that of blacks.

It was clear, even then, that immigration did not provide a pathway for betterment of the black community and reverted or, at best, stagnated black folks progress on civil rights. And provided that these black leaders led and influenced King and the people that King would come to lead, one can only assume that their stance on immigration influenced him, if even in the slightest.

In response to this, a “more power in numbers” argument can be made, suggesting that if blacks would embrace immigration then they could have more leverage on the issues that affect them. This sentiment falls short when considering that immigrants are more likely to have to compete with blacks in the labor market.

Competition between freed blacks and white immigrants during the early 19th century “led to the rise of union based anti-black discrimination” which effectively kept blacks from benefitting from the industrial revolution. After Reconstruction, the “high rate of European immigration kept many newly-freed blacks locked within the South’s agricultural economy.” Not only this, but the elites also desired a system akin to slavery where blacks were still “last hired,” resulting in blacks being kept further away from the economic gains of society.

This trend would continue into the 20th century as unions were effectively segregated until after the second world war. But even then, blacks still struggled to rouse the support of their racial/ethnic counterparts to better work their low work conditions and end their discriminatory treatment.

Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis in 1968 for this reason – calling attention to the inequitable treatment of blacks even within desegregated unions.

When considering that black leaders throughout this country’s history have been cognizant of the damage that immigration can (and) have (had) on the black community and the fact that King was killed fighting for the rights of black folk, it is hard to make the case that he would be an avid advocate of DACA and other immigration issues.

This is not to say that he would not support these issues in rhetoric, as he did send a letter of support to Cesar Chavez, stating that “our separate struggles are really one – a struggle for freedom, for dignity and for humanity.”

But Cesar Chavez pointedly opposed mass migration as he believed – as did many black leaders before King – that immigration undermined American workers and “exploit[ed] the migrants.” Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers did not change their stance on immigration until well after King’s death in the 1970s-1980s. To assume that King would support modern immigration battles based off this letter, as many writers have, is historically inaccurate as Chavez himself was opposed to mass migration at the time the letter was drafted.

Even nowadays, attempting to make the argument of King being a devoted supporter of DACA and immigration is an inadequate assumption as the damage that immigration has done has been documented (refer to the beginning of article) and the preference for immigrant labor over blacks is still apparent today.

In a study published in the Urban Underclass, the contributing authors noted that “employers perceived stronger work ethic among the immigrants, and a greater willingness to tolerate low wages.”

This false sentiment has been pervasive and present throughout this country’s history, despite the incoming immigrant population’s race or ethnicity. To parrot any form of this argument is to perpetuate the never-ending cycle of generational poverty that blacks experience in this country as blacks have for so long been the hardest working and the least compensated.

In a study published in NBER by former University of Texas Economics Professor, Daniel Hamermesh, he concluded that immigrants generally do not take jobs that natives “don’t want,” a claim often purported by those who believe the “immigrant mentality” to be a thing. Not to say that immigrants do not work hard, but to insinuate that immigrants are doing better than blacks simply due to “hard work” and “merit” is wrong as the study goes on to conclude that “if anything… African-Americans… appear to take jobs that otherwise similar native whites and Hispanics, and immigrants too, are unwilling to take.”

If King were alive today, he would see that blacks are doing worse than immigrants according to most metrics; he would see that they are still being favored by elites in the labor market; he would see that the issues facing the black community are not being spoken about while immigrants issues have been holding center stage; he would see that communities and institutions are still lacking native black representation; he would see that the “check” he marched on Washington to get has still not been paid to the black community.

When considering all of these things, it is inconceivable to believe that King would be an avid advocate for DACA and immigration rights and not still touring the country advocating for a “radical redistribution of economic power” for black folk, as his dream is still not a reality
Cover Image Credit: https://timedotcom.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/mlk.jpg

Related Content

Facebook Comments