Shady Side Academy junior Deven Nahata was the recipient of Hello Neighbor's inaugural Youth Champion Award in recognition of the incredible volunteer work he has done for the nonprofit, which supports refugee and immigrant families in Pittsburgh. SSA alumna Sloane (Berrent) Davidson '97, Hello Neighbor's founder and CEO, presented Nahata with the award at the organization's Home Sweet Home fundraising gala on Sunday, Sept. 18, at the Heinz History Center.
Nahata first learned about Hello Neighbor in seventh grade, when SSA Middle School English teacher Lauren Cannon assigned her students a project to research a societal issue that interested them and create a plan for something they could do to help remedy the issue. The grandchild of immigrants, he attended a local event to learn more about the Syrian refugees resettling in Pittsburgh at the time, and spoke with Davidson about how SSA could help support Hello Neighbor's work. Based on their conversation, Deven decided to hold a dress-down day fundraiser, collect books for refugee children and have his classmates create cards to welcome refugees to Pittsburgh. Then, in eighth grade he organized a donation drive at school to collect toiletries and household goods for refugees. At the Senior School, as a freshman he organized a school supply drive for refugee children, and as a sophomore he led a gift card drive to benefit newly resettled Afghan refugee families in Pittsburgh.
"Deven is amazing," said Davidson as she introduced him at the awards ceremony. "He is the future of not only Pittsburgh, but dare I say what we want to see in this country ... I think the future is bright with people like Deven in anyone's corner, and we are so incredibly honored to have him in ours."
"I am so humbled and honored, alongside the other award recipients, to be a part of such an incredible organization that changes the lives of our new neighbors each and every day," said Nahata upon receiving the award.
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