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.
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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

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An Open Letter to the Person Who Still Uses the "R Word"

Your negative associations are slowly poisoning the true meaning of an incredibly beautiful, exclusive word.
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What do you mean you didn't “mean it like that?" You said it.

People don't say things just for the hell of it. It has one definition. Merriam-Webster defines it as, "To be less advanced in mental, physical or social development than is usual for one's age."

So, when you were “retarded drunk" this past weekend, as you claim, were you diagnosed with a physical or mental disability?

When you called your friend “retarded," did you realize that you were actually falsely labeling them as handicapped?

Don't correct yourself with words like “stupid," “dumb," or “ignorant." when I call you out. Sharpen your vocabulary a little more and broaden your horizons, because I promise you that if people with disabilities could banish that word forever, they would.

Especially when people associate it with drunks, bad decisions, idiotic statements, their enemies and other meaningless issues. Oh trust me, they are way more than that.

I'm not quite sure if you have had your eyes opened as to what a disabled person is capable of, but let me go ahead and lay it out there for you. My best friend has Down Syndrome, and when I tell people that their initial reaction is, “Oh that is so nice of you! You are so selfless to hang out with her."

Well, thanks for the compliment, but she is a person. A living, breathing, normal girl who has feelings, friends, thousands of abilities, knowledge, and compassion out the wazoo.

She listens better than anyone I know, she gets more excited to see me than anyone I know, and she works harder at her hobbies, school, work, and sports than anyone I know. She attends a private school, is a member of the swim team, has won multiple events in the Special Olympics, is in the school choir, and could quite possibly be the most popular girl at her school!

So yes, I would love to take your compliment, but please realize that most people who are labeled as “disabled" are actually more “able" than normal people. I hang out with her because she is one of the people who has so effortlessly taught me simplicity, gratitude, strength, faith, passion, love, genuine happiness and so much more.

Speaking for the people who cannot defend themselves: choose a new word.

The trend has gone out of style, just like smoking cigarettes or not wearing your seat belt. It is poisonous, it is ignorant, and it is low class.

As I explained above, most people with disabilities are actually more capable than a normal human because of their advantageous ways of making peoples' days and unknowingly changing lives. Hang out with a handicapped person, even if it is just for a day. I can one hundred percent guarantee you will bite your tongue next time you go to use the term out of context.

Hopefully you at least think of my friend, who in my book is a hero, a champion and an overcomer. Don't use the “R Word". You are way too good for that. Stand up and correct someone today.

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlin Murray

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5 Thoughts You've Probably Had About The Government Shutdown If You, Like Cardi B, Are Paying Attention

I'm not sure if Trump thinks he's playing a real-life game of "The Sims," but I can assure you that a wall will not keep out those that are truly determined to get in.

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2019 — what a time to be alive, am I right? Normally I would use that phrase sarcastically, but each day I am more and more confused, transfixed, and curious (with just a dash of anticipation) about our current state as a society and the direction we're going. Even though most of the time the world seems like sh*t, you've got to admit that out of all the times in history, the current one we're in has a lot of cool perks. I mean, 70 years ago, who would've guessed that there'd be computers and a world wide web filled with endless information and apps that allow 125 million people to see cute pictures of Kim Kardashian's baby. And compared to life in the 1600s, an airplane seems just as extraordinary as the second coming of Jesus.

We're making a lot of wonderful and exciting progress, like our advancements in medicine, but for some reason, we've hit an impasse in terms of social improvement. Not even three years ago would I have guessed that the U.S. would elect an unqualified, most likely racist, reality TV star as president, but alas, here we are, which brings me to his latest antics.

The government shutdown.

Despite how bleak the future seems, a little part of me is just a tad grateful that I'm alive to see this all go down. Like everyone else, however, I've had quite a few thoughts about it all over the past few weeks...

1. So we're screwed, right?

We briefly had a government shutdown in 2013, but for some reason, I have absolutely no recollection of it (my 14-year-old self was probably too preoccupied with who was posted on my high school's Instagram "thot page." Spoiler alert: I was), so this is like my first experience dealing with one. There have been more than a dozen in U.S. history, but the current shutdown is the longest out of the list. My first thought when hearing about the news was "what the hell does THIS mean?" I immediately jumped to the conclusion that we were in a total state of anarchy, but of course, that isn't even partially true. According to The Balance, a government shutdown is "when non-essential discretionary federal programs close." The shutdown doesn't affect state social services, like the Department of Public Safety, and thankfully for us broke college students, funding for financial aid was approved last September, meaning there's no current effect on student financial aid programs.

However, federal services and agencies like the IRS (don't get too excited... you still have to pay taxes), Department of Labor, Department of Housing and Urban Development, National Institute of Health, and the Food and Drug Administration are completely shut down while the budget process is in limbo. With no current end in sight, this is bound to get very bad, very soon.

Already, hundreds of thousands of government employees have been sent home without pay and will continue to not be paid as long as the shutdown is in effect. People living in low-income housing may be evicted as HUD freezes funds for programs. Without funding, all of these services very well may close. Not only that, but the shut down is costing us money: approximately $1.2 billion every week. I wouldn't normally be worried, but Trump is the exact type of immature and petty to where he'll keep this going until he gets his way (or he's impeached, whichever comes first). His attitude firmly suggests that he's not backing down, and if services do close, there will be terrible effects on affected departments and citizen well-being.

Should we just drink the kool-aid now?

2. All of this over... a wall?

Out of all of the things that a president could request funding for, the one we currently have wants $5 billion for a damn steel wall? I'm not sure if he thinks he's playing a real-life game of The Sims, but I can assure you that real humans are much more crafty than we give each other credit for and that a wall will not keep out those that are truly determined to get in. Trump has said that the wall is the "only solution for a growing security and humanitarian crisis at the border," yet common sense and many politicians/organizations can tell you that that's complete and utter bullsh*t. Not only that, but Trump's whole presidency has revolved around quelling illegal immigration, but no one has stopped to ask why he's only focusing on the border.

How would a wall decrease the number of people who overstay their visas? How would it decrease the number of illegal immigrants who aren't even crossing the border?!

While I am not well-versed in how much of a threat illegal immigration presents to the U.S. people and government, I still am convinced that there are way more important issues that the president should be concerned with. F*** global warming and renewable energy, let's build a wall, right?!?

Trump's obsession with his wall is a pathetic attempt to flex his self-professed prowess and a way to appease his hate-filled fanatics who only voted for him because he promised he could get it done.

What happened to Mexico paying for it? Oh right, that was just more bullsh*t.

3. People actually donated to this sh*t?

I just... People's stupidity and callousness never cease to amaze me. Before GoFundMe rightfully shut this fundraiser down, over 345,000 people actually donated $20 million dollars for a (wait for it) steel wall. Why is this the thing that people feel their money is worthy of being spent on? Imagine if we all banded together to raise $20 million dollars to help end homelessness or food insecurity. Or better yet, pay the federal employees who are getting screwed over by this whole ordeal.

4. How do Trump supporters feel about all of this?

I know that die-hard fans can take a lot of sh"t from their idols, but I think that after a while it's only natural for them to get fed up. Out of the 62 million people who voted for Trump, there's probably a good portion of them who are significantly affected by the shutdown. The ones who are government employees are feeling the brunt of it now, but if this continues on for months or even years like Trump is threatening, then we're all going to feel it and I can't think of any good excuses that someone could come up with in order to justify such a foolish and reckless decision made by the president. To a federally-employed Trump supporter, I can't imagine how it feels to go 26 days without a paycheck because the president you voted for is desperately trying to propose funding for a wall that you want to be built. It's got to be a catch-22, but hell, I feel like almost all Trump supporters are delusional anyway, so they're probably thinking they're undergoing some grand act of martyrdom.

5. Even Cardi B is worried... Now you know we're screwed.

Cardi B took to Instagram recently to post a video of her addressing her worries about the government shutdown. While not eloquently put, the rap princess is really only just voicing the thoughts and opinions of a lot of us out here. If Cardi B is taking the time out of her day to stop popping off at her haters and fantasizing about Offset's peen, then you know that this issue is a pretty big deal. The self-proclaimed gang member and boss bit** has admitted that she's scared. I think that warrants us to all be.

Well, there you have it, folks. Five of my most pressing thoughts about the government shutdown. As it continues, I'm sure they'll be thousands more that pop into all of our heads. But hey, let's look on the bright side -- we've made history; now's the only time we can say the government has been shut down all year.

Hopefully, we won't be able to say it for much longer.

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