Featured Volunteer: Dhruv Sundararaman
Dhruv Sundararaman (right) is one of three scouts this fall who helped launch our collection season under unusual circumstances and protocols. Arnav, on the left, was another working on his Eagle project and also from Troop 1983. Both scouts contacted us last year to set up bike collections as their Eagle projects and both were scheduled this spring before COVID-19 halted life in its tracks.
The Eagle Project is what often stands in the way of scouts obtaining the rank of Eagle Scout. It's a project to employ the leadership qualities scouts accumulate throughout their scouting journey. This is something that needs to be completed by the scout's 18th birthday, which sometimes has them racing the calendar to complete the project. The coronavirus pandemic was a particular challenging time for scouts on this quest in 2020. Extensions were granted beyond that target birthday but because projects are testing a scouts leadership over a group, social distancing limitations affected how and what could be done.
In the spring of this year Dhruv and Arnav both had collections scheduled with Bikes for the World that ended up postponed, more than once. As we opened back up again in late May we started talking with the scouts again to try to get their projects in before school started up in the fall. It was a little sooner than we planned to return to group events, but looked to the scouts for their leadership in navigating new territory.
Working together, we came up with a list of protocols to safely hold our collections that required interacting with donors and volunteers. This was an added challenge for the guys to work out, and one that weighed heavily on the ability to return to collecting bikes again, something we desperately needed to do to meet the needs of our partners around the world.
Since Arnav and Dhruv were from the same troop and were both hosting collections within weeks of each other, Dhruv being second, Dhruv was worried about his event. He had worked with us in the past, hosting a collection several years ago at REI, and knew the importance of the work we were doing. He wanted to collect enough bikes to really make an impact in our program. He did not disappoint.
Dhruv had also spent several sessions over the years working in our warehouse prepping bikes for shipments. He had the experience and passion to make this work. Dhruv collected over 100 bikes during his project. Many of them are already on the way to Costa Rica and should be there soon. He showed excellent leadership qualities by recruiting a team of volunteers, some outside his troop, working within the community to advertise the event, connecting to area bike shops, and devising a plan for the logistics of collecting and moving bikes. All while working under the complications of coronavirus.
Dhruv is not yet under the stress of squeezing this project in before his 18th birthday; he had planned well in advance and it paid off. He learned the valuable lesson of time management in a way that had been unimaginable before 2020. Dhruv, as well as his classmates of 2020 and 2021, have been under a lot of stress this year as some of them are virtually touring colleges or even starting college off campus. They are missing their friends and laughing at their wild covid hairstyles. Events like proms, homecomings, graduations, football, dates, and scout camping trips were all impacted this year. But like any Eagle Scout, they rolled with the punches and kept right on going.
Congratulations to Dhruv Sundararaman, Arnav Kachroo, and Andrew Bowne, from Troop 628, who all helped us open our collection season of 2020 safely and successfully. Between the three of them they nearly filled a shipping container for us, collecting a total of 300 bikes.