My GiveLight Journey

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givelight-children-orphans-highschool-club-logoMeet Maahum Shahab. She introduced GiveLight to her high school and strives to raise awareness of for the children we support. 






Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I attend Dublin High School in Dublin, California. Besides being the president of the GiveLight Club, I am an officer of the DHS Kids Against Hunger Club, the Community Editor of the Dublin Shield (school newspaper), a certified ING youth advisor, a DECA member, a DHS Kind Club member, a DHS Make A Wish Club member, and I play soccer for the Dublin League. Besides schoolwork and volunteering, I spend my time watching shows I love like Doctor Who and The Flash, I enjoy painting, and I love being with my friends and family. 

What compelled you to start the club at your high school?

Like many other high schools, Dublin High provides its students with extensive opportunities to spend their time doing what is in their interest and passion. Since I was young, I've felt the want and need to engage in things like community service, and do my very best to help people in whatever format possible. Last year, as a freshman, I was excited to join many of the different types of community service clubs available to me. However, as the year passed along, it was quite apparent that not much commitment and professionalism was being put into most of the community service clubs that already existed (of course, not all of them were applicable). I became aware that there weren't many outlets for me to express my love of helping others. I took it upon myself to create an active, fast pace, goal-oriented service club that would provide many students with the ability to make change and impact the world as much as they could at this age. The GiveLight Club has become a way for my voice to be heard, for me to speak out about the struggles of numerous children over the world, and for others to feel the need to help out in any way possible. I chose to express my desire for making change through the GiveLight Foundation, mainly because I felt a strong connection to the organization. As cheesy as it sounds, it seems that the people who work for this amazing organization are much like me; goal-oriented. The work they do is genuine, personal, and uplifting. I absolutely love that the outcomes of all their efforts are visible and apparent. My mother had heard about the organization through a friend, and we were familiar with its work. I did some research on GiveLight before making the decision, and the multiple pictures of children's smiling faces developed an immense excitement and love for the organization in me. I remember thinking, "This is the work I want to see done, and this is the type of work I want to be a part of." I knew that the best way for me to make as big of an impact as possible and help the organization in positive way was to use the resources I had available and create a student club at my school.

What made you think that this was an important issue to be addressed? 

Providing any support possible for children is important to me simply because I know that I have the power and resources to make a difficult life less of a nightmare. All people are deserving of joy, education, love, and support  throughout their childhoods, so that they can grow and live up to their fullest potentials, and perhaps one day enhance the lives of more and more people. 

By starting this club, what awareness do you hope will be brought to light within your school's community? 

There are many community service clubs on our campus, but what sets the GiveLight Club apart is the reinforcement of why we do the events and activities that we do. Consistently, club members are reminded that they should be active and participate in activities not only because they can earn credit, but because the work we do and the efforts we make effect people around the world in ways that we can't even comprehend. I hope that GiveLight Club members and others in my school community develop a love and desire for creating change and understanding what their work could potentially mean to another person. 

How has the response been to your club on campus? 

At the beginning of the year, the response to the new GiveLight Club was quite uplifting; we had over 100 signups, and about 80 people came to the first meeting. Slowly, overtime, the number of active members declined, as was expected. As of December 2016, we have 43 exceptionally active members, and overall 78 members who are making efforts to be involved whenever they are available. When asking for feedback, I often hear that our club is very well organized, and many of them appreciate our careful planning beforehand. I think these are the qualities of the GiveLight Club that keep people hooked and committed. Overall, we've had a positive response and we are brainstorming ways to keep this response consistent throughout the year. 

How do you expect this club to thrive at your school even after you graduate? 

I plan to update the GiveLight officer board every year. Officer applications are looked over carefully and decisions are only made once every application has thoroughly been evaluated.  Doing so will allow for the club to fall under trustworthy leadership, even after I graduate. This year, only I have contact with the organization out of the club officers. In coming years, I hope to change that and allow for better direct participation between the club officers and the GiveLight Foundation itself. 

What are your plans to share these ideas with other schools and communities? 

One of my ideas for expanding the school club aspect of GiveLight is to create a youth participation division in the organization itself. My plans were to bring this to attention after the 2016-2017 school year, which would allow us to evaluate how the first year of GiveLight school clubs carried out, and how it could be improved. The main idea for the youth participation division would be to create a network of young people interested in utilizing leadership skills to benefit the organization and carrying out formal procedures involved in starting up a club in which students apply and are either accepted as GiveLight representatives or not (perhaps through a series of applications and/or interviews). This would allow for students who are committed, responsible, and focused to add to the GiveLight Foundation reputation, and to make sure all resources and materials are being put to good use. After students are accepted to serve as GiveLight representatives at their schools and create a school club, they would be expected to submit a report of plans for the school year or next 12 months in which they can use creative freedom to determine what type of events and activities they want to include and when those would take place. They would also be required to submit monthly reports on whether or not their goals for that particular month were met, along with descriptions or images of what events that did take place. I strongly believe that creating a professional and formal method for students to start up school clubs through a GiveLight Youth Participation Division would raise awareness about the organization itself, provide more opportunity to impact and benefit the children in GiveLight's care, serve as a unique and powerful marketing strategy for the organization, and allow for increased participation and activity. Through a network of school clubs, GiveLight can expand, and perhaps students from different schools could work together, learn from each other, and even have room for joint activities and events in which students from different could meet and serve under one common purpose. In the future, possibly after this school year, I look forward to working with GiveLight to approach and try ideas like the GiveLight Youth Participation Division. 

Did you had any obstacles in starting your club or running this club? 

I think that, so far, the hardest part about running the club is keeping people interested and marketing our events and activities. I knew from the start that I didn't want the GiveLight Club to be one of the clubs in which members slowly stopped participating in and weaned off throughout the course of the year. My officers and I have worked diligently to try to keep people coming to meetings, signing up for events, and staying spirited. Advertising and marketing is difficult, especially to people of my age who clubs like these aren't necessarily relevant to. Nevertheless, my officers and I are putting much effort into raising awareness about the club and (especially) our fundraisers, using things like social media, word of mouth, and resources around school.  

Thank you for your enthusiasm and dedication to our children!

Thank you for hearing what I have to say!!!