Comfort in the chaos

Project Querencia serves community with drive to make a difference

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Precious Onalaja

Project Querencia members and Coppell High School junior Gautam Rao, Coppell sophomore Sanjitha Sreemushta, Coppell sophomore Shraavya Pydisetti and Coppell junior Revant Kanakamedala put together care packages for teachers at CHS. Project Querencia was founded by Pydisetti in June to help make a change in the community.

Sreeja Mudumby, Communications Manager

Bags sealed. 

Mask on. 

Boxes delivered. 

Community served. 

Mission accomplished.

This is a frequent routine for Project Querencia, which means safe space in Spanish, a non-profit founded by Coppell High School sophomore Shraavya Pydisetti. She founded the club in June, wanting to make an impact in her community while volunteering.

“When summer started, I was supposed to have an internship at Baylor University, but because of COVID-19, that was shut down for me,” Pydisetti said. “I really wanted to do something where I could volunteer, but more than that, I wanted to make some kind of difference.”

Pydisetti made a starting step with a sign up Google form, and with just fast, incoming responses, Pydisetti made Project Querencia and began her projects. Project Querencia is an independent group and not an official CHS club with a faculty sponsor.

“I sent [the Google form] out to everyone in the community and a whole bunch of kids responded.” Pydisetti said. “We had our first meeting in my house with masks [while following]  social distancing [guidelines]. [At the meeting], I was like, ‘There’s so many people here who want to do so many things, so why not start an organization which can allow other kids to join and also help us?’”

Change starts with us, and we’re the leaders of tomorrow. You shouldn’t wait around for someone else. That’s how you make the community [and] world better.”

— CHS sophomore Shraavya Pydisetti

Inspired by Pydisetti’s goal of helping the community, CHS sophomore Sanjitha Sreemushta joined the club.

“When COVID-19 hit, I wanted to make a difference, I wanted to volunteer, but that was difficult, so I joined Project Querencia,” Sreemushta said. “During one of the first meetings we were like, ‘We’re going to find a way to still make a difference even though there’s a pandemic going on.’ It was an opportunity for me to make change, and that’s why I joined the club.”

Project Querencia has many aspects to their organization, including raising awareness through social media and hands-on projects. The organization inaugurated the crossguards initiative to keep kids safe from on going traffic and began expanding slowly. 

“There’s a speeding limit but some of the parents or drivers don’t necessarily follow it,” Pydisetti said. “There are kids and they run all across the road and we decided to be high school cross guards and [Project Querencia] would watch over them. That was our first project and then we slowly started projects and building our website.”

According to CHS junior Gautam Rao, members of Project Querencia formed a connection deeper than the surface level.

“I would like to think that it’s a family,” Rao said. “You get to share your opinion, create your own projects, give feedback and receive feedback; you will not be judged.”

Project Querencia’s most recent project was the care package project, where Pydisetti, Sreemushta, Rao and CHS junior  Revant Kanakamedala donated 350 care packages to CHS and 92 to CHS9. These packages were given to teachers as a token of appreciation for their hard work and presence during the pandemic. Project Querencia also donated care packages to doctors.

“We donate them to COVID-19 doctors who are on the front lines and it is probably the most amazing feeling, when you deliver those care packages,” Sreemushta said. “We get to see doctors take them and they send us many amazing photos of all the doctors smiling and appreciating what we do which is pretty amazing, but the fact that they’re getting the appreciation that they deserve is amazing. It makes our day, makes us feel like we’re doing something right and bigger than ourselves.”

Project Querencia impacts the community through all the aspects of their organization. By having a strong bond and a drive, they are able to accomplish many acts of public service.

“The people that are in Project Querencia are all really close,” Kanakamedala said. “When we’re doing projects, it just feels more like a family than an organization. The environment is really good, and that’s what makes it easy for me.”

Starting an organization from scratch is no easy task, but Pydisetti believes that a few qualities can go a long way when forming a club.

“You have to be patient,” Pydisetti said. “You have to be patient with the people you’re working with and when you’re starting it, it can get really frustrating. No matter what you’re doing, keep doing it, it’ll all pay off in the end. You have to be patient with all the issues and remember why you started it, and make sure your mission is clear.”

Project Querencia continues to aspire and inspire, keeping their mission to serve locally.

“Change starts with us, and we’re the leaders of tomorrow,” Pydisetti said. “It’s never too late or too early to start making a difference. If you see something that needs to be changed, you should start the change, and shouldn’t wait around for someone else to do it. That’s how you make the community [and] world better.”

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Project Querencia members and Coppell High School junior Gautam Rao, Coppell sophomore Sanjitha Sreemushta, Coppell sophomore Shraavya Pydisetti and Coppell junior Revant Kanakamedala put together care packages for teachers at CHS. Project Querencia was founded by Pydisetti in June to help make a change in the community. (Precious Onalaja)