Has your family or teenager considered volunteering?
If you’re looking for an organization to volunteer with, then you might want to learn more about Teens Helping Seniors.
In this episode of the HomeSchool ThinkTank Parenting Podcast, you’ll meet 17-year-old Dhruv Pai, from Montgomery County, in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Last year, when the pandemic hit, he and his friend, Matthew Casertano, started a non-profit contactless grocery volunteer organization that delivers groceries to senior citizens.
When we interviewed Dhruv, he and teen volunteers from more than 33 chapters had delivered nearly 3000 grocery orders to the front door of a lot of seniors.
In this inspiring episode, Dhruv shares many of the lessons that he’s learned through volunteering and starting a non-profit organization.
Listen to this podcast episode below or watch the video to hear more of the insights that Dhruv has gained through volunteering.
Listen to the HomeSchool ThinkTank Parenting Podcast
Why We Are Sharing This Story
While Dhruv & Matthew are both public school students, we chose to share this story for the following reasons.
- First, we believe that this is a good cause. Many older adults need assistance with getting groceries, medical supplies, and other items.
- Next, we realize that many homeschooling families, young people, & teens like to volunteer. We believe that this is a good organization for homeschool families & teens to volunteer with and develop leadership skills through.
- At HomeSchool ThinkTank, we believe that there are many benefits to volunteering. Clearly, when you volunteer there are benefits to the receiver. However, there are many benefits to the volunteer as well. Volunteers improve current abilities, develop new skills, make new friends, and feel a general sense of pride about what they are doing. There are many more benefits to volunteering that we’ll talk about later.
- Dhruv and Matthew are an inspiration to both teenagers and adults. While they started by assisting their own grandparents, when they realized others needed help too, they stepped up to serve others. They have learned how to take an idea and scale it to provide for many more people.
- Teenagers & homeschool families can volunteer with Teens Helping Seniors, another organization, or simply model Dhruv & Matthew to start serving others in their own way.
How Did Teens Helping Seniors Start?
Shortly after the coronavirus outbreak, Dhruv realized that his grandparents were apprehensive about shopping for their own groceries. Like many older people, they feared getting the virus. As a result, Dhruv started grocery shopping for his grandparent’s and delivering to their nearby apartment complex.
While visiting with his friend, Matt Casertano, Dhruv learned that Matthew was also delivering his grandparent’s groceries. When Matthew’s grandmother told some of her friends about her grandson delivering groceries to her, a few of them asked if he might be willing to do this for them too.
The young men quickly realized that there were a lot of people who needed assistance.
In essence, Teens Helping Seniors began by helping their own grandparents, other family members, and their grandparent’s friends.
Eventually, Matthew & Dhruv turned this service into the non-profit, teen-run organization, Teens Helping Seniors.
The First Person Dhruv Helped Who He Didn’t Know
The first person Dhruv delivered groceries to, who he didn’t already know, was Marie.
“She lives nearby in another senior residential community and she is unable to go to the grocery store, unfortunately.
She has an injury as well as her son has down syndrome.
So unfortunately, she can’t get out of the house and there’s no one to go get groceries for her.
And so when she reached out to us, I – you know…
I didn’t know who she was when she first reached out.
But through the deliveries that we had with her every single week and through the interactions and the phone calls that we had with her…
I gradually got a sense of who she was and what she cared about, and what a kind, passionate, woman she is.
And eventually now, we’ve gotten to the point that we’re almost friends.
So I think it’s beautiful that this sort of bond can happen between our volunteer and our senior.
And that’s by no means an exception. That happens all the time with our volunteers and our seniors.”Dhruv Pai, Teens Helping Seniors
Volunteering Benefits & Leadership Lessons From Dhruv Pai
- Others Need Help. If one person needs help, others probably need help too.
- Word Of Mouth. When you are helping people, they will talk about you.
- Power Of Social Media. If you can do so much through word of mouth, imagine what you could do through harnessing the power of social media, the power of news, and different utilities.
- Forming Friendships. Friendships and intergenerational bonds happen through volunteering.
- Mental Health Benefits. Dhruv realized that he might be delivering more than groceries. He and his volunteers recognized that there may be an aspect of mental health at play through their deliveries. While Dhruv meant that the recipients of the grocery deliveries were experiencing improved mental health, at HomeSchool ThinkTank, we believe that there is improved mental health for the volunteer as well.
- Human Skills. He has learned the value of human skills like empathy and communication.
- Persuasion. You have to learn how to persuade other people to join your volunteer organization. You have to convince them that what you are doing will actually create some good and that they will get something out of it. Whether they get volunteer hours, recognition, or self-satisfaction, people inherently want to get something out of their volunteer work.
- Grit. There is value in grit. When you are starting out, it is incredibly difficult.
The Hardest Parts Of Starting The Volunteer Organization: Teens Helping Seniors
- Getting Noticed. Dhruv states, “…when we were really small, news organizations didn’t notice us and they didn’t want to feature us really…”
- Blowing Up. “…suddenly we started blowing up and we started getting a lot, and a lot, and a lot of requests. And too many to the point where we couldn’t handle all of them at times.
Volunteers Are Needed @ Teens Helping Seniors
When the two Montgomery Blair High School students couldn’t handle all of the delivery requests, they started enlisting local teenagers and friends to help them. The younger generation which includes high schoolers, college students, and young adults are starting volunteer chapters to serve local seniors in many places. In fact, Teens Helping Seniors is going international.
This volunteer delivery service is currently in both the United States and Canada. When we interviewed Dhruv, it seemed that their organization has had interest in other countries as well.
Here’s how Teens Helping Seniors was doing when we last checked with them.
- 2900 groceries delivered to senior citizens.
- 1050 volunteers.
- 33 chapters.
- 17 states & provinces.
If you are interested in volunteering or starting a local chapter, visit https://teenshelpingseniors.org/. Please let Dhruv & Matthew know that you heard about them at HomeSchool ThinkTank!
Teens Helping Seniors
Tips For Volunteering
- Follow your interests.
- Make it fun.
- Make it something you do together – with friends or family.
Altruism As Defined By Dhruv Pai
“Altruism means putting yourself in someone else’s shoes.
It starts with empathy, but then it goes to the next step of helping them – helping them in the best way you see possible.
Not only do I believe that our volunteers experiences and my experiences have taught us the value of altruism, but especially during the pandemic and during these difficult situations, altruism is the best thing our society can have.“
Matthew Casertano & Dhruv Pai
More Lessons From Dhruv In This Episode
- How to persuade others to join you in volunteering.
- How to balance a friendship while running an organization.
- How to get your kids to volunteer on their terms.
“Think of volunteering as simply spending time with the people that you care about.
Over time as you do that, and as you tend to find more joy in that kind of thing, you realize that it is about helping people and it is about volunteering.
But when you first start out, it can be about just spending time with the people that you enjoy spending time with.“Dhruv Pai, Teens Helping Seniors
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Who Do You Want To Share This Article With?
Do you know a homeschooling family who would like to volunteer and help vulnerable populations?
Maybe you would like to share this information with a teenage volunteer or local students who want to help high risk groups?
There are many different ways to help. If you have a little spare time, from tech support to fulfilling a shopping list, you can help serve higher risk populations during these troubling times.
If you know a senior citizen who needs this contactless grocery delivery service and would like to take advantage of the service provided through Teens Helping Seniors, then please share this article.
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