Two Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center (EIC) students are making a business out of helping others volunteer.
Page High senior Delaney Miller and Independence High senior Mikiela Garcia-Halbig are the creators of VolunTeens, a website that connect willing volunteers with nonprofits who need help for their cause. The idea came from Delaney’s difficulty in finding ways to get the volunteer hours required to graduate from Page High.
“Our overarching goal is to help both the organizations who need volunteers and the teens who are looking for ways to get involved,” said Delaney. “We want to make it mutually beneficial, and we know VolunTeens can do that.”
VolunTeens wasn’t their original business pitch. Delaney and Mikiela started their first year at the EIC selling customizable trail mixes at markets. However, the pandemic required them to pivot. Luckily, the EIC gave them the skills needed to do so.
“The EIC is unique because it allows us to learn by doing,” said Mikiela. “It teaches you everything you need to know. I had never taken a business class before, but the EIC makes it fun and very real-world.”
Mikiela has spent her young life so far learning by doing. MiKiela started working at Westhaven Golf Club right after she turned 16. She had recently moved to the area from CA, had yet to make friends and was looking to embark on her first job. An uncle living in Westhaven suggested applying to the Club …. and she was hired on the spot.
Chip Bradley, Director of Food & Beverage at Westhaven says “Kiela (as we call her at the Club) was young and green when she first came on board, but once she understands the processes, she takes initiative and owns every part of the role.
After a year, Mikiela was eager to learn more and take on a new challenge and so she started back waiting. And fast forward to this year, Mikiela is now a server. “Everything that I mastered as a host making sure the dining room timing flowed, and learning all the menu and drink items as a back wait, has really helped me as server” says Mikiela. “It is very fulfilling being in charge of my tables, giving my full attention to the members, and anticipating their needs.
That desire for fulfillment and self-validating work extends to Mikiela’s desire to have an impact on the community. VolunTeens initially began as an Instagram page and has since expanded. Delaney and Mikiela are seeing the results of their idea and recently pitched their idea to the Williamson County Chamber of Commerce, Williamson, Inc.
“We were invited to this opportunity only two weeks before the pitch date, which motivated us to work expediently to finish our website, an informational flyer for organizations and a rough outline of our pitch,” said Delaney. “Thankfully, the presentation was successful. Since then, we receive emails every day from different organizations wanting to learn more about VolunTeens.”
Their journey has not been without its struggles. Initially, it was difficult for Delaney and Mikiela to spread the word about their business as they attempted to reach both teenagers who want to volunteer and organizations with volunteer opportunities.
“Our immediate challenge is to grow both sides at the same time,” said Delaney. “Hopefully, we can keep those two even: the groups who need assistance and the teenagers who are eager and able to fill those roles.”
As Delaney and Mikiela continue growing their business, they have advice for those are looking for a place to start. They suggest beginning with something you enjoy doing and to not be afraid of failure.
“We pivoted two times prior to VolunTeens,” Mikiela said. “Something we’ve learned over the two years of entrepreneurship is to not be afraid to completely start over.”
CREDIT – This article uses the photo and the article published by WCS InFocus.