Local high school student represents the next generation of charitable and philanthropic champions in Brevard County.

While watching a college football game a few years ago, young Ishaan Jathal saw a segment on Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson and his charitable work with Habitat for Humanity. As someone who had already been exposed to those less fortunate as a result of his trips to India to visit his grandparents, Jathal was looking for a way to give back locally. Inspired by Watson, he reached out to Habitat for Humanity of Brevard County and asked how he could volunteer.

Today, the 15-year-old student at West Shore Junior/Senior High School in Melbourne is president of the school’s campus chapter of Habitat and is leading efforts to raise money to build a Habitat home for a family in need.

“We should be grateful as kids who live in nice houses and have food to eat whenever we want,” he said. “Seeing how people live in India, I realized at a young age there are many individuals and families in this world who struggle and don’t have the basic necessities we take for granted.”

After volunteering at The Restore — a Habitat home improvement store and donation center that sells new and used furniture, appliances, home accessories and building materials at a fraction of the retail price — Jathal approached Pam Davis, director of Habitat for Humanity of Brevard County, and asked her how he could do more. She told him he could physically help build a home or start a campus chapter at his school to raise funds to finance the building of a home.

“We love meeting students like Ishaan who have a passion for making a difference in their community,” said Davis. “Having students like Ishaan makes our mission of bringing people together to build homes, communities and hope easier to accomplish.”

After some consideration, Jathal decided that by starting a campus chapter, he could accomplish more and raise the much-needed funds to build a home. He approached his friends and asked if they were up for forming a chapter. When four agreed to help, he went to his guidance counselor and asked him how they would go about doing it. They informed the principal, who helped them set it up quickly.

“It takes $60,000 to build a Habitat home, which is a lot of money for high school kids to raise, but there’s no time limit on this, and we want to donate as much as we can,” explained Jathal. “The goal is to raise awareness and get others involved in a good cause.”

The following students make up the chapter: Ishaan Jathal, president; Josh Freeman, treasurer; Lena Hatter, vice president; and Bella Stazzone, social media expert. By raising awareness at school sporting events, which are well attended, they hope to get other students interested in volunteering at fundraising events.

They also distribute informational flyers around school and communicate their message through social media.

“We’ve partnered with Indiafest 2018 and will fundraise at their big event in February,” said Jathal. “We also have a walk-a-thon set up for March, which will be an annual event, so our goal is to raise money throughout the rest of high school. Our goal is to reach $60,000 or more, but if we don’t, we’ll donate whatever we raise to Habitat. The more we can help, the better.”

Another important aspect of fundraising is securing corporate sponsorships. Jathal and his team have created professional-looking corporate sponsorship packages for their upcoming events. The package includes a sponsorship letter, the appropriate financial forms, a list of corporate benefits and more. “We want to get our foot in the door, and in order to do that, we need to come across professionally,” said Jathal. “Businesses want to help, but you have to present them with the opportunity in a clear and concise manner.”

The reaction of classmates, family and friends to the chapter’s efforts has been overwhelmingly positive. Classmates are seeing the vision of wanting to help others as the group raises awareness. Teachers are also on board and excited Jathal and his friends are making others their age feel more grateful for what they have. Jathal’s family is understandably proud of him.

For Jathal, charity starts at home. He believes local outreach can have the greatest impact on a community. He plans to continue his charitable work when he goes to college and will start a Habitat campus chapter wherever he winds up. He is considering going into medicine, but whatever he does, he plans on being active in the community and involved in good causes.

“As kids today we tend to get self-absorbed with our electronics and the Internet,” explained Jathal. “It’s important for young people to become aware of other people’s struggles and start to understand the value of giving back. When this happens, our generation can have a greater impact on the communities they live in.”

Seeing how people live in India, I realized at a young age there are many individuals and families in this world who struggle and don’t have the basic necessities we take for granted.”– Ishaan Jathal

Want To Learn More?

For more information on Habitat for Humanity, visit www.BrevardHabitat.com.