Saturday, July 13, 2024

Local High School Graduate Working to Heal America Through Nonprofit

Aruesha Srivastava (photo provided by Aruesha Srivastava)

YORKTOWN — Grafton High School graduate Aruesha Srivastava started the nonprofit organization HealAmerica, Inc. to connect charities to donors.

The student-led nonprofit aims to tackle wellness distribution gaps in the community. The organization first started in the Hampton Roads area before expanding its reach to projects across Virginia.

“Our goal is, basically, to tackle these wellness distribution gaps because something that [the founders] saw, especially during the pandemic, which is when we started off, was the fact that these larger organizations that facilitate and serve so many people, such as the Virginia Peninsula Food Bank, end up incurring these resource shortages and no one knows about it.” Srivastava, Founder and President of HealAmerica, explained.

“They do sometimes end up on the news, but the issue is that donors themselves aren’t able to have a direct connection to these larger organizations, and that’s where HealAmerica comes in,” Srivastava continued.

Srivastava sees the nonprofit as an intermediary organization. The nonprofit runs donation drives after talking with larger organizations and figuring out what shortages they are currently feeling. Through donation drives, the group connects donors to larger organizations with the additional goal of letting donors know what their donations are going to and what specific need they’re filling at that moment.

“One of the biggest problems isn’t the fact that donors don’t have the amount of resources needed to fulfill these shortages, but rather they are not aware of them. So we’re there to facilitate that exchange of knowledge,” Srivastava explained.

She was inspired to start the nonprofit by the NATASHA House in Yorktown, where Srivastava said she saw many women and children who didn’t have basic necessities that she would have expected during the COVID-19 pandemic. From there, she got a group of her friends together to run an initial donation drive.

“We didn’t think of a nonprofit at that time, we were just a group of students who wanted to help the NATASHA House,” Srivastava recalled.

Using social media, the group worked to get the word out to the people that they knew to donate masks as they set up the small drive. With that effort, Srivastava says they were able to collect around 6,000 masks to donate to various small organizations or individuals in need.

From there, more projects sprouted as the group attempted more donation drives to tackle the needs of other organizations. Srivastava found that after a couple of drives, it was something she wanted to formalize into an organization, to both expand the group’s reach and gain more legitimacy in the community.

Srivastava applied for non-stop corporation status with the Virginia State Corporation Commission. Through that, she was able to get a kind of nonprofit status. The organization has since achieved nonprofit status.

Current projects the organization is working on are Feminine Hygiene Resources, Food resources, and the Positivity Blanket.

One of the group’s newest visions is to create an app that will connect nonprofits directly with donors. Currently, the app is in development. It is hoped once the app is fully operational, nonprofits will be able to register and post their needs, ranging from volunteers to items, and donors will have direct access to that information.

In the next month, HealAmerica is looking to plan a fun run to raise funds and donate 50% to a wellness-based charity to be determined. The rest will stay within the organization to help fund future donation drives and events.

Although Srivastava has graduated high school and will be attending the California Institute of Technology (CalTech), Srivastava says she plans to continue with the organization.

“I have a vision for where I want to take [HealAmerica,]” Srivastava said. “I’d really love to see [the nonprofit], and especially the application we’re working on, become successful and really help organizations and donors across the United States.”

“HealAmerica is very important to me. Even as I go to college, and even if I’m busy, I’ll definitely make space for HealAmerica,” she continued.

For more information about the organization, visit its official website.

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