MONTGOMERY, Ohio -- Sycamore High School senior Swati Bhageria was honored with a national award for seeking out opportunities to serve others.
"I think we get so caught up in the problems in our world, but volunteering helps you realize there are people with much bigger problems and at the end of the day it feels good to have helped them," the 17-year-old Bhageria said.
She spends at least two hours a day on the website she created encouraging others in the Tri-State to volunteer. Creating it was a year-long project; in July, she finally got it up and running. It's been getting almost 4,000 views a day, she said, and she hopes it will help connect people with causes about which they are passionate.
"I felt like it was a problem that people were just volunteering to get hours," Bhageria said. "A lot of them weren't doing things they were interested in."
Her website, venetianvolunteering.org, makes it easy for people to find the volunteer opportunities that fit. Local agencies including Goodwill, the Cincinnati Zoo and Hoxworth Blood Center all have listings on her website.
"Reaction has been really good," Bhageria said. "When I contacted organizations, a lot of people were eager to post their own volunteer jobs on the website."
Bhageria juggles being an entrepreneur, running her website and a full high school class load. She still manages to find time to volunteer herself.
"As of now, I've volunteered around 450 hours roughtly," Bhageria said. "I have three main activities that I do for volunteering as well as smaller ones."
All of that time spent in the service of others has garnered her a lot of attention, and a lot of awards, including the Presidential Volunteer Service Award and the Congressional Gold Medal for volunteering over 400 hours.