High School Teen Supports Victims of Domestic Abuse in Texas and Beyond

Daily Point of Light # 7756 Feb 27, 2024

Meet Daily Point of Light Award honoree Diya Brijesh. Read her story, and nominate an outstanding volunteer or family as a Daily Point of Light.

After 18-year-old Diya Brijesh interned at a local clinic near her Frisco, Texas, hometown during her sophomore year of high school, she realized the difficulty in not only reporting domestic violence, but helping victims find sustainable care. Brijesh and her friends wanted to do something that made a difference for the children and families suffering from this issue, so they quickly put their heads together and decided to co-found Care4Kiddos.

Brijesh has helped the nonprofit host more than 50 events, partner with more than 30 organizations and reach 1.8 million individuals across a multitude of chapters around the world. They’ve also raised over $10,000 in funds for domestic abuse support groups.

What inspires you to volunteer?

Originally, my friend and I were interning at this local nonprofit clinic in Plano, Texas. And while we were interning there, we noticed that a lot of patients that came in were really low income. The issues that they were facing were drastically different from the issues that any other clinic would have to handle. One issue in particular was domestic abuse. All the doctors could do was either treat the physical effects of domestic abuse and offer them hotlines to emergency services or domestic abuse services, but they couldn’t really proactively work to stop this abuse from happening.

So, that got us wondering: what could we do? Yes, we were high schoolers, and people may not take us seriously, but we really wanted to make an impact in our local community. So, to start off, we started researching domestic abuse, brought more friends on board and together we co-founded Care4Kiddos. Our first event that we hosted was a summer bash here in our local community park and we were expecting like maybe around 50 kids to show up. We had around 300 total from neighboring counties because it turned out that people really do care about the cause. We knew we could really make an impact and show other people and high school students that if they just start small in their local community then they too can make a big impact.

Tell us about your volunteer role with Care4Kiddos?

Since Care4Kiddos was originally co-founded until around 2023, I was running a lot of the organization, like social media, awareness and all of the events we were organizing and hosting. We’d go out and look for sponsorships with local companies and had to email a bunch of new networks. We also did some legislative work, like talking to congress people and representatives. I’m pretty sure we helped pass a couple of state bills related to domestic abuse. So, all of that was cumulative days of hard work put together for a few years. We’d also go and volunteer at other organizations that directly serve domestic violence victims and interact with them to show volunteers that this issue isn’t just statistics on the internet, it’s real people.

In the summer of 2023, we started this program called the Global Chapter Program. People reached out to us and filled out a form that we made for those interested in starting their own Care4Kiddos local chapter. We have around 75 chapters globally. There’s a couple out of the country too. We’re hoping to be in every state in the U.S. in the near future. Each chapter follows the plan that we did, like trying to pass bills, hosting local events, volunteering in-person and things like that. We also have webinars with our out of state chapters so that they’re able to stay up to date with all of the information and news with us here in Frisco. So now our role has grown to manage all of these new chapters, our social media, podcasts and everything like that.

Care4Kiddos is my biggest journey with volunteering. But I’ve had experiences with tutoring and volunteering as a STEM guide, at a summer camp and I also worked on menstrual equity by gathering products for women. Anything that you can do in your local community is a really easy way to help out another person with the free time that you have in your own life.

Diya helps organize in-person events with Care4Kiddos to bring together members of her community to support domestic abuse survivors.

What’s been the most rewarding part of your work?

Actually being able to deliver all of that stuff that we’ve put together, like care packages and donations. And seeing that we can educate the community about how important this issue is and raise awareness. I’m also doing research with a professor that stemmed from Care4Kiddos and we’re creating this algorithm that looks at domestic violence records and domestic violence hot spots and tries to predict where it’ll happen next so people can get the resources beforehand.

I love seeing how Care4Kiddos has grown, not just in terms of domestic violence research but just throughout the world; it’s truly a community and network now. I think it’s inspiring to other students who want to take that leap and find an issue they’re passionate about and do something.

What have you learned through your experiences as a volunteer?

The biggest thing would be persevering, even when you have obstacles in front of you. For our very first event that we hosted, the summer bash, we didn’t really have any statistics or like any accomplishments to back us up as an organization because that was our first event. So, when you’re reaching out to all of these companies or organizations and asking for responses or partnerships, they’re not going to be as keen on helping you. But we tried to really show that we were passionate about this problem and how we were able to get through so many organizations like Kendra Scott, which came over and set up a booth and donated part of their proceeds to us.

Any advice for people who want to start volunteering?

Volunteering is not just something like a requirement in school. You have to put that mindset aside, truly, because when you’re really immersed in volunteering, you realize how happy it truly does make not just you but the people around you too. So, it doesn’t just have to be for an organization like Care4Kiddos. Volunteering can be as simple as tutoring your neighbors or working at a local food center or summer camp. All of these small things really do make a bigger change in the community, whether you see it directly or whether it happens indirectly. So much can be changed just by the volunteering that you do on a day-to-day basis.

What do you want people to learn from your story?

I feel like most importantly for my story with Care4Kiddos, I feel like it really targets the younger audience because it shows that if you truly have something that you’re very passionate about, then taking that first step might seem really difficult, but I’d suggest getting some support from your friend or your family. Making that very first step and taking the initiative to make a change in the world might seem difficult at first, but I highly encourage doing it because it is so rewarding to see that you’re helping.

Tell us about future partnerships, programs or events that you are excited about.

We’re actually applying for this grant right now which would go towards hosting more events in the future. So right now, we’re focusing on each of our chapters and hosting events. We’ve opened around three new chapters in the past couple of weeks. So, we’re hoping to expand that and the most important thing on our agenda right now is that we have this program called the purple dot program, which is something that we originally came up with. It’s just a confidential way to disclose abuse, like in a clinic. So, whenever a patient goes into the clinic, they’re able to take a purple sticker from the bathroom and stick it on the bottom of their urine or semen collection cup to let the doctor know that they are having this problem of domestic abuse. They’re able to be notified confidentially rather than in front of anyone that you’re possibly staying with. So, we are hoping to implement that program in all of our chapters so that it’s not just here in Frisco.

Do you want to make a difference in your community like Diya? Find local volunteer opportunities.

Madi Donham