“Teens United’s Mission is to create a network of volunteers who are passionate about serving their own communities.” Founded earlier this year by an ambitious group of students from Fairfax County, Virginia, Teens United has provided contact-less deliveries of essential items to senior citizens and frontline workers during COVID-19. We had the opportunity to sit down with Nadia (Langley HS), Mahit (Chantilly HS), Akash (Chantilly HS) and Vishwas (Marshall HS) to talk about their inspiring initiative!
Teens United started from humble beginnings, when Nadia and a senior advisor envisioned an organization that would create a community for Teens and families to find comfort and knowledge in a time of uncertainty. As the idea manifested and the team began to form, the group started to realize that they could provide physical volunteering aid instead of simply information. As Nadia recalls, “it expanded from this kind of “information security website,” to something where we were actively helping through our volunteers and deliveries.” Akash corroborates upon this, mentioning how when the group of teenagers first got together, they realized there was a common interest in helping their communities, leading into what Teens United has become today.
Work & Collaboration:
Collaborating online during a global pandemic is no easy task, and yet Teens United has excelled at it. Through Google Hangouts, the initial group was able to discuss and refine their plan. As their initiative garnered interest through social media, they moved onto a Slack Channel, which kept members (both the teams and its volunteers) informed along with regular Zoom calls.
Today, the Teens United team consists of 10 core members (twice their original size) and many volunteers across their region. They operate from a website with a Delivery System, where elderly & seniors, immunocompromised individuals and frontline workers may schedule a delivery free of charge. The group offers groceries, medicine and other essential supplies, mainly catering to Fairfax County, Montgomery County, Arlington County and Washington DC.
During this process, the team has grown tremendously as both individuals and a group. “Besides growing as leaders, we have also grown as people who have become more connected to the nonprofit world,” Nadia recalls. Other members of the team expressed their agreement, discussing how they matured and garnered skills in web design and bettered how they expressed themselves and communicated with others. They also shared some advice for organizations just getting off of the ground. As the group recalled, working as a group towards a common goal was something that moved slowly at first. Yet, when passion fueled improvement and members learned how to work best with each other (many specializing in their own strengths), the organization found its rhythm.
Reflection & Moving Forward:
Teens United would not be where they are today without their dedication to reflection and commitment to refining the way they run their organization and volunteer work. On their website, you will quickly find a page dedicated for feedback as well as a chatbox to get in touch with the team. Through these channels, the team learned how to smooth out their delivery system, streamlining the process and removing any complications. Likewise, during their weekly Friday meetings with their volunteers, the team has asked for feedback and explored how they can reintegrate that into their organization. As a service organization, Teens United has found this process of reflection pivotal, especially as they continue to dedicate themselves to volunteer work.
Moving forward, Teens United hopes to broaden their impact, offering their service and building a base of volunteers in other major cities and metropolitan areas. Likewise, they hope to expand their team and continue to support those in need during times of emergencies.
You can learn more about Teens United’s work at https://www.teensunited.org! They also have social media accounts: @teensunited2020 on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
As per Nadia, “what we didn’t realize was how many people in our community really do care and really are willing to put themselves in a position where they are actively trying to help each other. Despite the dangers that everyone is facing, human compassion has shown through … and having this team and group of volunteers that is willing to go through this, I think it speaks volumes to their future and what we can obtain when we work together.” So, we leave you with this — what will you do to make your community a better place?
This article was written as part of the Student Alliance’s Student Stories. You may find more information about the various articles on our website www.thestudentalliance.org and Instagram page @thestudentalliance. As always, thanks for reading!