Teens Helping Seniors: Interview with Dhruv Pai, volunteering lessons.  Blog, podcast, video at HomeSchool ThinkTank.

In this HomeSchool ThinkTank Parenting Podcast episode, you’ll meet 17-year-old Dhruv Pai, from Montgomery County, in Silver Spring, Maryland. In 2020, when the pandemic hit, he and his friend, Matthew Casertano, started a non-profit contactless grocery volunteer organization that delivered groceries to senior citizens.

Click the Links Below to Watch the Video or Listen to the Podcast Episode

This interview with Dhruv Pai of Teens Helping Seniors was conducted in 2021. Teens Helping Seniors is no longer an active organization. However, this interview still holds value and will inspire other teens. Dhruv shares multiple lessons he learned about leadership, volunteering, and founding a non-profit organization.

When we interviewed Dhruv, he and teenage volunteers from more than 33 chapters had delivered nearly 3000 grocery orders to the front door of many seniors. In this inspiring episode, you’ll hear many insights Dhruv gained through volunteering.

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Why We Shared the Story of Teens Helping Seniors

While Dhruv Pai & Matthew Cassertano are both public school students, we chose to share this story for the following reasons.

  1. It’s a Good Cause: Many older adults need assistance getting groceries, medical supplies, and other items.
  2. Homeschool Families Volunteer: Many homeschooling families, young people, & teens like to volunteer.
  3. Individual Benefits to Volunteering: There are many benefits to volunteering. While volunteers help others, there are also many benefits to the volunteer. Volunteers improve current abilities, develop new skills, make new friends, develop leadership skills, and feel pride in their work.
  4. HSTT Wants to Inspire Teens & Families to Volunteer: This is an excellent story of two teens who saw a need and stepped in to help others. Their example can serve as an inspiration to others.
  5. HSTT Wanted to Help Spread the Word: Teens Helping Seniors was a good organization, and we wanted to help share information about their organization.

Watch This Video with 17-Year-Old, Dhruv Pai

How Did Teens Helping Seniors Start?

Shortly after the COVID-19 outbreak, Dhruv Pai realized that his grandparents were apprehensive about shopping for their groceries. Like many older people, they feared getting the virus. As a result, Dhruv started grocery shopping for his grandparents and delivering to their nearby apartment complex.

While visiting with his friend, Matthew 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 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. Ultimately, Matthew & Dhruv turned this service into the non-profit, teen-run organization, Teens Helping Seniors.

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Dhruv Pai Helps Senior Citizens

Who was the first person Dhruv helped who he didn’t know? Marie. Dhruv didn’t know Marie, but he delivered her groceries.

“She lives nearby in a 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
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Volunteering Benefits & Leadership Lessons

Dhruv Pai has learned many lessons from volunteering.

  • Others Need Help: If one person needs help, others probably need help too.
  • Word of Mouth: When helping people, they will talk about you.
  • Power of Social Media: Imagine what you can do by harnessing the power of social media, news, and other utilities.
  • Forming Friendships: Friendships and intergenerational bonds happen through volunteering.
  • Mental Health Benefits: Dhruv and his volunteers recognized there was an aspect of mental health at play through their deliveries.
  • Human Skills: Dhruv has learned the value of skills like empathy and communication.
  • Persuasion: Dhruv learned to persuade others to join his volunteer organization. To join, people had to feel that they would create some good, and needed to get something out of volunteering. Whether volunteers get credit hours, recognition, or self-satisfaction, people inherently want to get something out of their volunteer work.
  • Grit: Starting an organization is incredibly difficult, and there is value in grit.
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The Hardest Parts of Starting the Volunteer Organization: Teens Helping Seniors

  1. Getting Noticed: Dhruv states, “When we were really small, news organizations didn’t notice us, and they didn’t want to feature us…”
  2. 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.”

Tips For Volunteering

  • Follow your interests.
  • Make it fun.
  • Make it something you do together – with friends or family.
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What Is Altruism?

“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.”

Dhruv Pai, Teens Helping Seniors
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The Impact of Teens Helping Seniors

When the two Montgomery Blair High School students couldn’t handle all the delivery requests, they enlisted local teenagers and friends to help them. The younger generation, which includes high schoolers, college students, and young adults, started volunteer chapters to serve local seniors in many places. In fact, Teens Helping Seniors went international.

This volunteer delivery service branched into the United States and Canada. At last count, Teens Helping Seniors had made the following impact.

  • 2900 groceries were delivered to senior citizens.
  • 1050 volunteers.
  • 33 chapters.
  • 17 states & provinces.

While Teens Helping Seniors is no longer an active organization, teens can still take inspiration from Matthew Casertano and Dhruv Pai. Learn what Dhruv Pai is doing today by following him on LinkedIn.

Podcast Episode with Dhruv Pai

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