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!