With the pandemic in full-swing, three high school students hang out in Ashton Park sharing ideas on how they each relieve stress in creative ways. After a few meetings, a spark ignited between them. They came to a general consensus and realization that they could make a difference in the community by bringing people together with creative hobbies during unprecedented times. Hence, Country day junior Hailey Fesai and her two friends attending Mira Loma High School Katie Huh and Keerti Ravula, founded Made For More, a student-driven nonprofit organization.
They founded the organization in late June of 2020, with its core focus being on helping kids relieve stress through artistic activities like writing literature or painting.
“We realized that there are a lot of other kids out there who haven’t been given the same resources to use for their creative outlets that we have,” Ravula said. “We wanted to provide resources for other kids like us.”
Fesai’s inspiration for the nonprofit stemmed from her own experience of hardship last summer when she broke her leg during a ski accident and had to recover. During that time, she built up a greater awareness for mental health and wanted to pass what she had learnt to others.
The nonprofit already has had a few accomplishments. Before social distancing restrictions got stricter, Fesai, Huh and Ravula were able to organize a few in-person events at Ashton Park. They provided a space for people to hang out and work on art.
The purpose of the events was for the “I Get You Project”. Fesai, Huh and Ravula hope to compile all the artwork and poetry created during the meetings into a single book.
“The ‘I Get You Project’ is meant to be a connector between people of all ages and how they alleviate their stress,” Huh said. “We wanted to share that with the world, but it’s still a work in progress.”.
The co-founders also recruited the help of other students. Sophomore Elizabeth Cook helped run one of the in-person events in early January for community service hours. Like others who were there helping, Cook learned about the event through Country Day Cares, a community service club at the school also run by Fesai.
“I ran a station that had a lot of art projects in it.” Cook said. “There was splatter painting, calligraphy, journaling and just regular drawing and art.”
Cook agrees that art is a good way to relieve stress. She said she is interested in joining the events in the future if she has the time.
Now, the group has shifted its events online through social media and online speakers through another project named Sunday Spill. A host of speakers ranging from musicians to athletes talk about their own experiences with mental health and give advice on how they have coped. Fesai said having these speakers present their stories will encourage others to open up about themselves.
“I feel like a lot of people don’t really know how to express themselves,” she said. “You just give people a chance to talk or to listen.”
Another notable achievement the student-run organization has accomplished was starting an annual drive to donate gifts to local nonprofit organizations with a small caveat; the gifts have to relate to Made for More’s theme of music, writing, art and sports.
This year, the nonprofit decided to run a toy drive and donate art and sports equipment to the Children’s Receiving Home of Sacramento.
“People donated physical toys and we went around and collected them from their houses through contactless pick-up,” Huh said.
The nonprofit was also able to get enough funding and donations to gift a foosball table and baseball bats, which the nonprofit had expressed their need for in a Sacramento Bee article.
The nonprofit is still in a very early stage. The co-founders hope to extend their reach and connect kids in the Sacramento area. Currently, the team is supported and funded by family and friends.
“Right now we’re still new and just taking it one step at a time,” Ravula said. “We still have another year to go so hopefully more opportunities will present themselves.”