Written by: Serena Li
Date: February 9, 2022
Meet #EverydayHero Raunik:
Raunik Sahota had a childhood that few kids could relate to. He had feverishly moved at least 10 times due to various reasons before even graduating from high school. People often forget how emotionally stressful and overwhelming the process of moving is; it’s not just the shuffling of your items from one place to the next, but it’s also the idea of having to uproot yourself and somehow acclimate to completely new surroundings. In grade 12, Raunik decided to take matters into his own hands and create his own sense of belonging—one that could not be taken away from him if he had to move again. He found himself in altruism.
Raunik started volunteering with a youth-run non-profit called Youth Rising Foundation. Youth Rising’s mission is simple: to make the community of Surrey, BC a better place to live in for all. The organization contributes to a multitude of causes including environmentalism, homelessness, and arts and culture. By volunteering with this organization, Raunik quickly found his footing within a community which he had originally struggled to connect to.
Having been with Youth Rising for almost two years, Raunik, now a psychology and criminology student at Simon Fraser University, says that volunteering is a “constant,” and something that “[he] can stick with no matter where [he] moves that [allows him] to have a sense of community.” He built for himself a connection that could not be taken away from him, one that was not limited by geography. In fact, he says “volunteering [helps] me feel less like a tourist or visitor in this community, and more like an engaged, global citizen.” Raunik started out looking for a community, but now shares his relatedness with others to empower them to volunteer and feel grounded in their own vibrant, diverse communities.
Meet Youth Rising Foundation:
Youth Rising Foundation was founded by Jasondeep Mann and Arshpreet Manku in 2019, in the city of Surrey, BC. Then grade 11 students, the co-founders simply wanted to make the community they lived in a better place. Surrey, BC can sometimes be seen in a negative light due to some pervasive, negative stereotypes. Gang violence, drugs, and poverty are often mentioned in these stereotypes. The founders wanted to show Surrey youth a different way of looking at their own city by showing them the different areas of society through opportunities of community engagement and global citizenship.
Youth Rising Foundation is run in a rather distinctive way in comparison to most non-profits. The organization uses a democratic, flexible planning model to deliver their service projects.They encourage their youth volunteers to identify which themes are most important to them, and then provide them with the opportunity to develop an initiative that supports the social cause. In this way, the organization embodies the idea of community power; the local youth leaders are the ones who spearhead change and influence decision-making. Once they identify their collective values, they develop a project that makes the world they live in a more resilient, compassionate, and equitable place. Some of the past initiatives they have organized are: neighbourhood clean ups, raising funds for local charities, and giving care packages to the underserved and underprivileged in the Downtown Eastside.
Find out more about them at: https://www.instagram.com/youthrising.foundation/