28 October 2021

A year and 10,000 macaroons later, an idea that Shrobana Sengupta concocted in a kitchen has transformed her into a social entrepreneur.

Presentation High School raised $ 15,000 for 72 Chromebooks through a GoFundMe account for the Sunday Friends nonprofit. The laptops were donated to low-income families assisted by the association. In exchange, donors received gift boxes of homemade macaroons.

“The fact that I was able to collect all this money from the macaroons and the pastry was just amazing,” the 17-year-old told the San José Spotlight.

The business has become a family affair. Sengupta’s parents funded the ingredients. Her mother helped clean the kitchen and her father did the dishes.

Making delicate and sweet meringue-based treats put her cooking skills and entrepreneurial spirit to the test. At one point, Sengupta thought about lowering his fundraising goal. Her parents convinced her to move on.

“If you don’t try, you’ll never know,” her father Samrat said.

Presentation Shrobana Sengupta, high school student, baked macaroons to raise funds for low income families. Photo courtesy of Shrobana Sengupta.

A passionate volunteer with Sunday Friends since middle school, Sengupta persevered.

“Shrobana is a star,” said Sunday Friends executive director James McCaskill. “She set herself an ambitious goal and kept lowering it. She wasn’t going to give up until she hit the $ 15,000 mark. It was just amazing to see how she balanced this project. with his adolescence, his homework and his public relations. “

Like many businesses and organizations, Sunday Friends, founded in 1967 to help those in need, turned to online programming during the COVID-19 pandemic. The association, which enables underserved families to break the generational cycle of poverty, has seen its needs drop from 234 families in 2019 to 300 in 2021.

Over 90% of the families served by the nonprofit are considered very low income, earning about $ 45,000 or less per household. They barely make rent and have no discretionary funds, McCaskill said.

Chromebooks are a lifeline, giving families “access to all aspects of life, from online banking and shopping to classes and resources,” said McCaskill.

Sunday Friends is partnering with Sacred Heart to give computer lessons to these families. McCaskill said receiving a Chromebook inspires families to take the course.

Shrobana Sengupta has become an expert in baking and decorating macaroons. Photo courtesy of Shrobana Sengupta.

Sengupta’s vision

At the start of the pandemic, Sengupta heard stories from people in difficulty and knew that Sunday Friends was helping many people who were also lacking computers.

Sengupta struggled to go online during distance learning and found that other students, who may not even have access to a computer at home, may also be struggling with poor connectivity. As a Sunday Friends volunteer, she knew of the “amazing work” that the nonprofit did through resource drives and computer literacy programs and wanted to help.

She started a small business in her kitchen with the oven turned on 24/7, making batches of macaroons, with the dough in one corner, toppings in another and platters on macaron platters on her table. to eat.

Cooking seven days a week, she sometimes started early in the morning and worked late at night. It helped with distance learning, she didn’t have to go to school or participate in extracurricular activities, she said.

“She’s just an amazing young lady,” McCaskill said. “She really took him to heart. The experience really taught her the power, the joy and the meaning of serving others.”

Sunday Friends executive director James McCaskill said Chromebooks have helped the families they serve bridge the digital divide. Photo by Lorraine Gabbert.

News of Sengupta’s project quickly spread to her friends and family, and she received a wave of support.

“I am truly grateful that by raising this money and being able to provide these families with laptops, I am not only helping them with work and school and I have the appropriate resources, but I am also helping them. to learn computer skills, “she said.

Sengupta, from Calcutta in eastern India, is inspired by Malala Yousafzai, who championed the right of girls to school in Pakistan. Sengupta has the same drive. She has raised funds for organizations like St. Jude, Cure Alzheimer’s Fund and senior residences, and she’s just getting started.

She plans to volunteer at college and hopes to attend Columbia University or the University of Pennsylvania.

“I just want to keep doing more and more,” Sengupta said. “It motivated me. It gave me the confidence that I can do even bigger things in the future.”

Contact Lorraine Gabbert at [email protected]

San José Spotlight is the city’s premier nonprofit news organization dedicated to independent political and business reporting. Please support our public service journalism by clicking here.

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