HOUSTON – If you’re looking for some Monday motivation, here’s something that’s sure to inspire you. When faced with a school-wide issue caused by the pandemic, one local teen took action to find a solution. Haiqa Faheem, Founder of Houston Helping Hands, took it upon herself to start a nonprofit to help her peers as well as other students across the city.
“My initial reaction to the start of the pandemic was primarily confusion because at the time a pandemic seemed to be something that we would only hear about in textbooks,” said Faheem.
Faheem was actually out of the country for a family wedding when she first received news of the COVID-19 outbreak. After returning home safe and healthy, she soon faced new unforeseen challenges caused by the pandemic.
“As school began to close our volunteer opportunities that mostly did come from school such as the sporting events or fundraisers were no longer available,” said Faheem. “Many students were struggling to complete their school’s volunteer requirements.”
Knowing how challenging it can be to complete volunteer hours under normal circumstances, Faheem started brainstorming ways to help.
“I was inclined to find a solution to this issue because I understood how difficult it is to get those hours done and how much commitment and time it does take,” said Faheem.
In August of 2020, Faheem began researching ways to help fellow students find volunteer opportunities. During this time, she soon discovered many local nonprofit organizations were also experiencing a shortage of volunteers due to the pandemic. The two issues sparked an idea for Faheem to help both parties. By September, Houston Helping Hands was formed.
“Students work to cater to the direct needs of their peers while making a difference in their immediate community,” said Faheem. “It’s a 100% student-led organization. We make the posts. We run the drives. The students bring in the products. It’s completely high school student based.”
Since launching in 2020, Houston Helping Hands and the Travis High School Chapter have hosted three drives. In November, students collected more than 400 canned goods for the Houston Food Bank. In December, students held a toy drive for Toys for Tots. Most recently, the nonprofit collected clothing and toiletry donations for Girl Up Southeast Texas Coalition.
“Today we are at 200 amazing members, and I’m very proud to say that we have grown so much in such a little amount of time,” said Faheem. “This year, we are aiming to reach 500 members, and we would love to have at least one school chapter in each school district throughout Houston.”
Need an extra dose of wisdom from a 16 year old? Faheem shared these parting words of inspiration.
“You just have to keep persevering and working towards your goals,” said Faheem. “Maya Angelou once said, ‘We may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated,’ so I find it very important that individuals hear that today to inspire themselves.”
To connect with Haiqa Faheem, visit the Houston Helping Hands page.