Youth Profile: Ezaan Khan, Brookfield High School Class of 2021
By Jonathan Sandstrom, American Red Cross
At the start of last year Ezaan Khan, currently a junior at Brookfield High School, wanted to help make a difference in his community.
Mentally, the wheels began turning as he considered his options. He did research into the other clubs currently offered at the school. Among the first ideas was to create a smaller version of the American Red Cross within the school. “I wanted to create an outpost where we could help within the community,” Khan said. “I knew the Red Cross does so much for people around the world and I wanted to be part of that.”
So, he decided to try and start a Red Cross Club at Brookfield High. For information on how to start, he contacted Becky Johnson, the Regional Volunteer Director for Connecticut and Rhode Island and Beth Healey, Senior Engagement Specialist.
They provided the basic information and got him established on Volunteer Connection, where he found lots of information on how to start a Red Cross Club. “They’ve really helped me with this idea, ” Ezaan said.
First, he needed at least seven people to express interest, the minimum number allowable for starting a new club within the Red Cross. He reached the goal by talking to all his close friends and getting several of them to agree to join the venture. Then he needed a faculty advisor. Check.
Becky Johnson provided Khan with a template for creating a constitution for the club and Ezaan set about writing, making a few modifications along the way. Once he had a constitution in place, he set up a meeting with the high school principal to try and sell his idea.
Ezaan wasn’t sure what would happen in his initial meeting with the principal, but he felt confident. “I was pretty well prepared,” he said. “The principal wanted to know what we planned to do with the club and I was ready.”
Once the principal approved the venture, Ezaan put up flyers around the school telling about the informational meeting and encouraging interested students to come. “We got between 20 and 30 students to come to the first gathering,” Ezaan said. “The initial meeting goals were to explain the Red Cross policies, ratify the club’s constitution, get all the new recruits into Volunteer Connection and talk about things we wanted to do like hosting blood drives etc.”
Initially, about ten people actually joined. Since then, the numbers have multiplied. In early December 2019, Ezaan said membership was between 50-60 people.
The Brookfield High School club has participated in hosting blood drives and Rake and Bake, a service where club members go to the homes of people with disabilities in the community and rake their lawns for free to help them out. Ezaan said the bake portion of the event was the community pooling together to provide baked goods for the raking volunteers.
The club also participated in a fundraiser within the school in which they got fellow students and faculty to donate to the cause. In total, the Red Cross club has raised close to $500. Close to half of this money has been donated to the Red Cross. Ezaan said $100 was specifically for the Vaccinate A Village program. The Red Cross uses the money for vaccines to be sent to South African villages where sick children can be helped or saved. “We’ve started to make a name for ourselves,” Ezaan said. “It’s nice to know we have the ability to help out people around the world.”
Ezaan said last year, the club met every Tuesday for 30 minutes after school to lay the groundwork for the club. Once they got to the current school year, meeting weekly was too often, so they switched to meeting on the first and third Tuesdays of the month. He’s also had speakers representing the Red Cross come to speak on various subjects.
Ezaan’s idea was to create a unique club under the guidance of the Red Cross. “I wanted to get involved helping in the community and around the world,” he said. “The end goal is to help anyone I can and as many as possible.”
As the president and founder of the Red Cross Club, this year’s aspirations are to help as much as possible with the vaccine program. Ezaan wants to get as many people involved as possible. “I feel good when I help people,” he said. ” ‘It feels even better when I get others to help alongside me to assist those in need.”
Initially, Khan had a vice president and secretary helping him run things. As the group continued to grow, he realized he needed a committee to help make the workload more manageable. “I feel so blessed to be part of this. Last year, what I aspired to do became a reality this year,” he said. ‘Now, I’m hoping the things I have in mind for the future can become a reality as well.”
Looking ahead, he wants the club and its involvement in the community and the world as a whole to continue to grow and expand. He has a year and a half left of high school and plans to make the most of the time. After he graduates he wants to see the ball he helped put in motion continue rolling and growing. “I want the club to be around and I never want it to die. It’s a place where people can get together and help those in need,” he said. “As I leave, I want to feel confident my efforts will carry on. I want the club to be passed on and see the foundation I built continue to grow.”
In his leadership role, Ezaan understands there will be times when things won’t go his way. “Times like those are crushing, and they are bound to happen. There’s no way to avoid it,”he said. “The important thing is to find a way to climb out of the valleys. If you do, you’ll reach a place you’d never believe you could achieve.”
For now, Ezaan Khan is pleased with how his idea has taken off. “Things are only heading up,” he said. “The club is skyrocketing and it’s truly all thanks to its members,
representatives and officers without whom I could never have achieved my goals.”
For more information about how you can start a Red Cross Club at your school, email firstname.lastname@example.org.