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.”
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.”
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.