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Incoming Franklin freshman, Ruhie Mehendale, shares her vision for Do-Gooders — a Franklin Student Ventures Competition-winning project — with us. Read all about it here!

By Ruhie Mehendale '26

I am driven to help those stuck in the vicious cycle of poverty build confidence and seize opportunities. This benefits society as a whole by encouraging participation in the workforce, increasing productivity, and creating safer neighborhoods. 

Last spring, I entered Franklin’s Young Innovators’ Competition, where I presented my business idea for starting Do-Gooders: an online platform to enable students like me to do good for our community and make a difference by connecting them with opportunities that match their interests.

The objective of the competition was to recognize a problem, find a solution, and then present it. The problem I focused on was how kids my age often don't know how to find community service opportunities; additionally, community service organizations are not always unable to recruit volunteers. I want to fill this gap and make the process efficient and less time-consuming. 

The idea for Do-Gooders took shape from my community service journey. At the age of five, while at Hamilton Park Montessori, I participated in yearly donation drives for hygiene products. Later, I started doing community service projects independently. For my first one in 2020, my family and I donated 100 sandwiches to the Hoboken Shelter. That same year and the following, I grew the program and used my newsletter (“Ruhie’s News for Kids”) to ask people to donate hygiene products to St. Lucy’s Shelter. I received overwhelming support and surpassed my goal by 100%: the first year resulted in 200 blessing bags donated and the second in 400. Most importantly, I learned that although many are eager to contribute, they may not know how and where to “do good.”

As I grew my volunteering efforts at the height of the pandemic in 2021, I realized that sanitizing materials were scarce. With the help of my family, I decided to coordinate a donation of hand sanitizer bottles to the City of Jersey City. I contacted Mayor Fulop and asked about the maximum number of bottles the city needed. He answered that there was a need for about 50K units and they would take even more given the circumstances. The Mayor connected me with other city officials to coordinate. I worked with them and a hand sanitizer company and structured a 100K bottle donation to be distributed to schools, hospitals, and police stations — requiring two 18-wheeler trucks! After developing a checklist, learning about shipping times, and securing resources, I set the date for the donation to be received.

These experiences have made me appreciate the challenges in identifying and coordinating opportunities to make a difference in society. In each instance, I had to come up with the idea, find organizations, learn their needs, get volunteers to help, market the activity, and structure donations — all of which took away time from actually implementing the community service. Obtaining certificates acknowledging participation was additionally difficult. 

What worked well as I developed the idea was tracking ideas in Google Docs. I sought feedback from experts, especially my parents, who have entrepreneurial experience. To present my idea in Franklin’s Young Innovators’ Competition, I built a PowerPoint presentation and recorded a two-minute video; the time limit forced me to emphasize only key parts. I was then invited to a five-minute live pitch in front of five judges and selected as one of the four finalists. What seemed like a distant goal suddenly became reality when I won prize money and gained crucial guidance. The money will serve as capital to bring my business idea to life through purchasing a domain, running surveys, and setting up a marketing campaign. I learned a lot from this experience and am further motivated to see how many lives Do-Gooders will touch! 

I’m building a team — and encourage students to reach out and join me on this journey so we can make a difference together!