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Published June 18, 2019
Volume 3, Number 6



Project Connect Brings Together Students, Community



By Hacienda Pulse Staff Writer

Pleasanton-based Project Connect was founded in February 2018 by Amador High School student Vijay Sithambaram. Project Connect links young people in the Tri-Valley area with service projects as a means to join individuals within the community and help spread the volunteerism movement. It differs from many other volunteer organizations in that it is a student-run organization that might be thought of as a form of “peer-to-peer voluntarism” that helps change the community for the better, one step at a time, according to Sithambaram.
 
“We are an organization that is always looking to connect students to projects of different varieties in the community,” says Sithambaram. “We are open to any projects that business and community organizations may have for us. The more projects there are, the more students get connected to projects which in turn expands the volunteerism movement.”

The officers of Project Connect include Amador Valley High School students Amogh Prajapati, Aditya Kurkut, Albany Patriwan, Pranav Padture, and Dublin High School student Javier Cesares. As the driving forces behind Project Connect, they believe that “service projects are beneficial in improving the community and bringing people from all walks of life together.”

Outsiders may be surprised at how effective the student-run Project Connect has been in creating a comprehensive network of high school volunteers ready to serve the community. Volunteers from the group have participated in several projects thus far. The projects include helping create holiday cards for Open Heart Kitchen in Pleasanton, helping build the Native American Tule Home at Alviso Adobe Community Park, also in Pleasanton, and helping package medical supplies for countries in need through the MedShare Program in San Leandro.
 
As Sithambaram explains, the seed for Project Connect grew out of working on a book drive for an organization in Redwood City. During the process he met several students from his community who were happy to volunteer for the book drive. He could see that other students were interested in volunteering but were unsure about how to find service projects. Sithambaram had done countless hours of volunteer work, and wanted to take it to the next step, he explains. He and his friends started working on solidifying his idea to help empower and guide other students toward meaningful service projects in the community.

“We have a lot of projects coming up in the Tri-Valley this summer, and we are always on the lookout for more volunteers and projects,” says Sithambaram. Hacienda businesses and organizations with projects that need volunteers and high school students who want to volunteer for a project should email the group at projectconnectpleasanton@gmail.com. While Project Connect volunteers are currently high school students, the group plans to expand in the future to provide volunteer opportunities for younger students as well.

For more information about Project Connect, please visit sites.google.com/view/project-connects or the group’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ProjectConnectPleasanton.