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Devin: Amanda, what do you see as your superpower?
Amanda: When Josh first reached out to me, he graduated from NYU Stern Business School. He brought in a few of his middle school friends. I was actually very self-conscious because I didn't really know anything about business. I didn't have a business background or anything like that, but I realized pretty quickly that my superpower is not necessarily the financial, logistical, the minute hard skills but more of the soft skills, more of the way that I relate to people, the way that I can understand people, the way that we're working with teenagers.
Devin: Amogh, what do you think is your superpower?
Amogh: I think my superpower lies in the fact that I am young, and I drive youth empowerment, youth leadership.
Devin: Gavin, what is your superpower?
Gavin: I wanted to use my superpower and engage students. So actually, with the organization I helped with, with their first-ever networking workshop. So, I show students how to use LinkedIn, how to send messages to politicians, industry professionals.
Years ago, I had Joshua’s Heart Foundation’s founder, Joshua Williams, on the show to talk about his remarkable organization. At the time, he was a young teenager and had already been at work feeding people who were hungry and food insecure for nearly a decade. When he launched the effort, he understood he was creating a movement to feed those who need help but likely didn’t fully appreciate the more radical impact he was having by empowering children and teenagers to lead.
Recently, we reconnected, and he introduced me to some of the young people who lead the effort today.
Amanda Aviles serves on the newly constituted National Advisory Board. Members of the board are Joshua’s Heart alumni volunteers scattered around the country. Some participated with Joshua as peers in the earliest days when their little hands and arms couldn’t carry much food but when their minds could immediately grasp the impact of providing food to someone who needed it.
Gavin Poore and Amogh Baranwal are both in high school. They are members of the Junior Advisor Board, which has the primary responsibility for leading the organization. They are two of the day-to-day leaders.
Both trace their roots in the organization back in time for years. Amogh shared his recollection of volunteering at age six:
The one memory that I have that has always stuck with me is that when I was in line, we used to have people come to us, and we would shop with them like a grocery store, so they would get to choose exactly what they wanted to take home.
A family came with another six-year-old, and this was the first time I had seen someone who looked like me–we're the same age, we might have gone to the same school, or we might have had similar life experiences at that age.
When I gave his family that box of food, I saw his smile brighten up. I was shocked. Something that I take for granted. I never think, “When's the next food going to be on the table?” Or when the next family dinner is going to be. It's something that just happens.
So, to see someone my age see so much joy from something that I took for granted really opened my eyes to the many problems that many people face–even at six years old.
So, it is cool to tell people that I started volunteering when I was six, but it's sad to know that there are six-year-olds who didn't get that same opportunity because of the circumstances they were put in. So ever since that day, I have been grateful for our Foundation for giving me these opportunities and allowing me to experience giving back firsthand.
His story represents well the experiences of other young people who volunteered regularly with Joshua’s Heart. The truly remarkable things about the nonprofit founded by a four-year-old may not be the people it feeds but the leaders it builds.
AI Episode Summary
This is an interview with three young people involved with Joshua’s Heart Foundation: Amanda Aviles, Gavin Poore, and Amogh Baranwal.
Joshua’s Heart Foundation was started in 2005 by a young boy named Joshua who had a passion for feeding the hungry.
The foundation’s primary mission is to fight hunger and engage and empower youth in that fight.
The organization is facing the challenge of keeping its founders and early participants involved while preserving the youth-led nature of the organization.
The organization is split into three parts: core volunteers, a junior advisory board, and a national advisory board.
Amanda Aviles believes her superpower is her ability to connect with people and understand them, particularly younger individuals.
Amogh Baranwal believes his superpower lies in his youth and the ability to empower and inspire other young people.
Gavin Poore sees his superpower as youth engagement, helping other young people find their voice and engage in positive change.
The organization can be supported through donations, and volunteers are accepted, but mainly from the South Florida area.
The best way to stay in touch with the organization is through its website and social media platforms, particularly LinkedIn.
Amanda Aviles (she/her):
Director of Strategy, Joshua's Heart Foundation
About Joshua's Heart Foundation: Joshua’s Heart Foundation (JHF) was founded in 2005 in Miami Beach, Fla. by Joshua Williams when he was four years old. Joshua’s Heart is dedicated to the fight against global hunger and poverty. JHF is a 501(c) (3), not-for-profit, youth-run organization, which empowers needy people to improve their quality of life by providing necessities like groceries and personal items. JHF also effectively engages and educates youth on committing to fight hunger and poverty on a global basis.
Twitter Handle: @joshuasheart
Instagram Handle: @joshuasheart
Company Facebook Page: facebook.com/joshuasheartfoundation
Biographical Information: At 12 years old, Amanda Aviles participated in her first food distribution with Joshua’s Heart and fell in love with the foundation. She became a regular volunteer and later joined the first Junior Advisory Board, a board of youth volunteers charged with overseeing food pantry operations. Today, Amanda serves as the Director of Strategy, proudly advancing a new youth-led model and establishing a mentorship network for JHF members as they grow their volunteer base and open more food pantries around the country.
Gavin Poore (he/him):
Head of Finance, Joshua's Heart Foundation
Biographical Information: Gavin Poore is a high school senior from Hollywood, FL. A member of the JAB and Head of Finance, he has a deep-rooted passion for youth engagement and activism. Gavin loves working congruently with others to develop real, white-glove solutions to reduce friction within societal pressures. Gavin is interested in the worlds of business and law, striving to gain opportunities that add to his already versatile skill set.
Amogh Baranwal (he/him):
Chair of the Junior Advisory Board and Head of Outreach for the Foundation, Joshua's Heart Foundation
Biographical Information: Amogh Baranwal is a current senior at Pembroke Pines Charter Highschool serving as the Valedictorian for the current graduating class. His academic accomplishments are synonymous with his passion for health advocacy, youth empowerment, and sustained social work. He has been a volunteer for Joshua's Heart Foundation for 11 years, starting his volunteer journey when he was 6 years old. He serves as the Junior Advisory Board Chair and heads the Outreach Branch of the foundation, which consists of Intel, Partners and sponsors, Social Awareness, and recruitment teams. From leading Youth Advocacy Conferences for thousands of youth to going to our Nation's Capital in Washington, D.C. to lobby for change regarding malnutrition during the terms of women's pregnancies, he has used his love for charity and justice to make change. He recently was honored by President George Bush's Point of Light Award, acknowledging his multifaceted approach to combating change through both charity and bipartisan advocacy and being a point of light in the world. Most recently, he was also named the Outstanding Youth Philanthropist of the Year in Broward County & the greater Ft. Lauderdale area. This past summer he spent around 2 months at Florida State University doing intersexual genetic variation research and he plans to pursue a M.D. / M.Ph. (Doctor of Medicine and Master of Public Health) where he can help bridge the gap between the political, medical, and social worlds.
Twitter Handle: @amoghbaranwal
Personal Facebook Profile: facebook.com/amogh.baranwal.3
Instagram Handle: @amoghbaranwal
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