Washingtonians Coming Together: Om Shah, Redmond WA
Om Shah is a 14 year old student from Redmond whose motivation to help those in need prompted him to take action into his own hands and start a GoFundMe dedicated to COVID-19 relief. Moved by the level of need in his community, he managed to raise $835 in his neighborhood—all of which he will donate to Seattle Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund. The fund is part of All In WA, a statewide COVID-19 relief effort aimed to support Washington’s most impacted and vulnerable individuals and families, especially those from Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC), undocumented, and rural communities.
Om’s hard work and support of his community represents how so many Washingtonians have stepped up for each other in the face of this year’s trials and tribulations.
Why did you decide to start a GoFundMe for the Seattle Foundation’s COVID-19 response fund?
My decision to start the GoFundMe during the pandemic originated from an close observation of the virus since its arrival in Washington State. When nursing homes were first affected by COVID-19, I didn’t view the virus as a significant threat. However, as more and more people near my community and within the King Country began getting infected, I started focusing more on finding ways to contribute. I found data and news articles on the internet that showed me how the pandemic was disproportionately impacting low-income families who didn’t have the resources to expend on PPE and safety measures. I started the GoFundMe as a method to collect donations from Washington State families and send them to the Seattle Foundation organization, which has a considerable amount of resources to reach underprivileged families.
What does the success of your GoFundMe mean to you?
For me, the success of the GoFundMe came from being able to directly see the impact of the fund on underprivileged communities in Washington. From the start of the GoFundMe, where I was reaching out to as many people and organizations as possible to jumpstart the contributions, to seeing the fund amass so many donations fills me with so much satisfaction and joy. It’s not everyday that you can collect a significant amount of contributions that makes its way towards communities who are disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
What would you say to others who may want to support their communities through this challenging time?
For anyone who wishes to support their community during the pandemic, just realizing that your actions can have a possible impact is a significant step forward. It takes immense courage and drive to fight for change within our communities. When I started raising funds for low-income families, taking the initiative to reach out to friends and families for contributions, and organizations for broadcasting my work was the single most important action I took. Hesitation can create unnecessary stress that your work is not going to create a meaningful impact; taking initiative can shift the focus onto the contributions that you are making and establish relations which can drive projects forward exponentially faster. For people who want to create impact, but don’t have enough time to make a commitment, drive change through organizations who fully understand the issues facing families in your community. Whatever method you use to contribute, remember that any action can have an impact. Don’t be afraid to go out and initiate that action.