Wake up. Eat. Do homework. Sleep. Repeat. Since the COVID-19 pandemic struck the nation earlier this year, many students found their exciting lives being reduced to a mundane cycle of the same few actions. Among numerous activities, volunteer opportunities were suddenly very limited. During this time, Nimi Patel, a junior at Arnold O. Beckman High School, took the initiative to start her very own non-profit organization: Sparkling Hearts Foundation.
After facing the cancellation of her volunteer opportunities at St. Joseph’s Hospital, Nimi was determined to find a new way to help patients and foster her passion for the medical field. Nimi, along with her friends Vivian Vu and Carissa Osterhoudt, began coming up with various ideas to aid their community. As people across the country found their mental healths deteriorating in isolation, Nimi thought of the millions of hospitalized children and teens who were suffering twofold with their physical and mental complications.
Initially, Nimi’s goal was to create an organization that would host various holiday events for hospitalized kids; however, the restrictions placed by COVID-19 in conjunction with several age limits in place made this simply unfeasible. After considering a plethora of options, she decided upon her new objective: “to enhance a patient’s mental and emotional well-being by donating gifts and activity kits to hospitals.” In this way, Nimi would be able to broaden her organization’s effect, despite the difficult restraints she faced.
As opposed to a mere club, Nimi felt inclined to make Sparkling Hearts a registered non-profit organization in order to reach a wider audience and increase its impact. Although the process of becoming a non-profit is usually quite difficult, Nimi was able to expedite her experience with the help of the Irvine Lights’ Project Beyond: an incubation program that allows Irvine Lights to extend their non-profit status to other organizations. With the help of this program, she was able to complete an application for her organization and was guided through the necessary steps to establish it. In the process of finalizing the creation of the Sparkling Hearts Foundation, Nimi was simultaneously very excited and slightly apprehensive because of the immense responsibilities associated with founding a non-profit.
Since Sparkling Hearts launched, it has gained a full executive board, advertising team, and hundreds of followers. Nimi believes that starting a non-profit is possible for anyone who has determination and endurance. She recommends being especially cautious of the various legal components of being a non-profit organization and making sure to stay organized and responsible. There may be many obstacles, but if you continue to work hard and remain persistent, you are definitely capable of doing amazing things as well!
Iris Lim, Grade 11
Arnold O. Beckman High School