By: NobleHour Special Contributor Meagan Pierluissi
While many of Meghana Iragavarapu’s high school peers enjoyed a relaxing summer poolside or were on vacation, she stayed true to her motto of helping others as often as possible.
This inspirational 15 year old of Greensboro, North Carolina, spent her days volunteering at a local refugee resettlement program, helping newcomers from countries like Iran, Bhutan and Mexico. She’s also scouted out new volunteer opportunities for Service Awareness and Integration (SAI), the service club she founded at her school, Early College at Guilford.
Meghana is also proud to be a NobleHour Ambassador. The NobleHour Ambassador Program is an opportunity for students who are involved in their communities and passionate about creating positive social change to act as liaisons between NobleHour and their local area.
As an Ambassador, Meghana quickly realized she could motivate her fellow students, who, in her words are “academically charged,” with the volunteer tracking capabilities found with NobleHour.
“I go a small school with a graduating class of about 50 students. School is the main focus, and so when I saw it (volunteering) wasn’t as important to other kids, whether it’s for requirements for graduating or out of the goodness of their hearts, I was a little shocked. Service and volunteering is a big part of my life, and I couldn’t imagine my life without it.”
Meghana says she created SAI to inspire students at Early College and make them aware of the opportunities all around them to give back. “We’re all talented and have an abundance of resources within ourselves,” she says.
“Kids for Kids,” is the club’s focus. Megan wants to share her passion for volunteerism by helping kids their age through life experiences and situations that, for some, are unimaginable. “Since I was young, my family has visited mission services, served in churches and made dinners for the Salvation Army,” says Meghana.
How has NobleHour helped SAI? Meghana says NobleHour plays a vital role in garnering more volunteers for the club. Simply put, “SAI is a resume builder. We could show how many hours they were getting with the software. NobleHour is a way to give immediate feedback and results of what service project students did and how many hours they served.”
For Early College students, it is also a way to earn a service diploma, which is appealing for students applying for college. But for Meghana, NobleHour is a way to stir excitement for volunteerism and helping the community around Greensboro and beyond. “I wanted to become a NobleHour Ambassador because it’s in part with what I thought I could do with my school—trying to motivate others. Something is guiding me that this is my purpose.”
“I think of academia,” Meghana says, “and I hear the phrase ‘you work hard, you’ll make money and that’s success.’ I want to change that definition of success for myself. I’m thinking bigger and dreaming bigger. I’m one person, but I’m also a person who can motivate other people.”
And motivate she does. In fewer than two years, SAI has used NobleHour to track their total fundraising efforts of $25,000 with 500 logged hours. Club members have raised funds for local charities like the Make-A-Wish Foundation, where their efforts raised $7,000 and helped make a wish come true for one child.
SAI is now looking to help on the global scale. Last year, the club identified an eye clinic in India, the Sankara Eye Foundation. Here, every $30 raised gives one child their vision—vision lost due to glaucoma. Meghana says the Greensboro community, and even as far as Charlotte, was incredibly supportive of these efforts. With SAI volunteers armed with information, awareness, and enthusiasm for helping kids find their vision; the club raised $18,000, far surpassing previous fundraising efforts at their school.
This is only the beginning of SAI," says Meghana who believes NobleHour can only elevate their ability to bring more volunteer opportunities to their students. “I want to do more than raise money. It goes further than that. We’re looking for hands-on opportunities for everyone in my school to experience what it’s like to be in other people’s shoes.”
Meghana says one of the biggest appeals to NobleHour is the "Find Opportunities" option. She believes SAI members could look into that more. “When we’re on summer vacation, you can just log on, from anywhere, to find places to go help.” She hopes to encourage others to take advantage of this option.
Meghana is deeply influenced by her mother who showed her the importance of volunteering and service opportunities throughout her childhood, “My mother is the main driving force for everything that I do. If there’s one thing that I can be entirely grateful for, it’s my mother.”
After having personally visited India over the summer to witness eye surgeries performed at the clinic SAI raised funds for last fall, Meghana’s career choice is to become a physician for Doctors Without Borders.
“I’m only one person,” she says with a voice filled with hope, humility, and inspiration, but with NobleHour, Meghana is bringing volunteerism and selfless service to the forefront of her school and community.
Since 2007 NobleHour has proven to be the volunteer management solution for organizations across the nation. With its robust online platform, Noblehour enhances community engagement with a variety of innovative and transformative tools for finding, tracking, and measuring volunteer, service-learning, and community service initiatives.
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