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SFHS senior wins The Prudential Spirit of Community Award!

Anish Bikmal, 17, of Cumming, was named Georgia’s High School honoree for the 2019 Prudential Spirit of Community Award, a nationwide program honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism.  As a state honoree, Anish will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense paid trip in early May to Washington DC, where he will join the other honorees from each of the other states and District of Columbia for four days of national recognition events.  During the trip, 10 students will be named America’s top youth volunteers of 2019.

Anish, a senior at South Forsyth High School, co-founded a nonprofit organization that operates a tutoring academy for local students, and uses the proceeds to benefit charities in India serving subsistence farmers, hungry children and people with cataracts.  On a visit to India several years ago, Anish had the chance to meet farmers near Mumbai who work 70 hours a week but use agricultural techniques that can damage soil quality and produce harvests too meager to adequately support their families.  “I wanted to help, but how?” he wondered, and then concluded: “Although I can’t educate the farmers directly, I can educate students in my local community and then, using the profits from tutoring, I can educate farmers indirectly.”

Anish and his older brother recruited other high school students to join them in providing academic assistance in a variety of subjects to kids in grades 3-12 through weekly classes, summer camps, motivational talks, college counseling and mentoring relationships.  Since then, three branches of their “Motivate and Inspire” academy have taken root, and more than $50,000 has been donated to philanthropic organizations in India to educate and provide tools to 104 farmers, serve approximately 30,000 meals to children in need and pay for 44 cataract surgeries.  As the current president, Anish delegates tasks to the academy’s tutors, organizes events, manages advertising and finances, and conducts four classes a week himself.  “I would tell other young people that the best way to show your appreciation for the resources you have is to share it with others,” he said.  “The only way we can improve as a society is by working together.”