In a world increasingly in need of compassionate leaders, Gavin Alexander Poore of Pembroke Pines, Fla., stands out as a beacon of hope and inspiration. His involvement with Joshua’s Heart Foundation (JHF) and his initiative, Discovering Diplomacy, reflect his deep commitment to serving communities and empowering youth.
Since joining Joshua’s Heart Foundation in August 2022, Gavin has been instrumental in both its internal and external operations. As the Miami Chapter head of finance and a member of the Junior Advisory Board, his role is pivotal in securing the organization’s financial stability. He has taken the lead in filling out grant applications, significantly contributing to raising over $100,000 and networking with corporate executives to support JHF’s mission of eradicating hunger.
Gavin’s innovation is evident in his launching of the foundation’s first-ever LinkedIn workshop. Recognizing the importance of interconnectedness and professional growth, he helped JHF members create LinkedIn accounts, fostering a network of opportunities. His initiative not only enhanced the organization’s cohesion but also empowered its members with essential professional skills.
Gavin’s also founded Discovering Diplomacy, a virtual program aimed at engaging students from under-resourced schools in political discussions through Model United Nations (MUN). This project reflects his dedication to nurturing soft skills and encouraging self-expression among youth. By providing a platform for dialogue and learning, Gavin helps students find their voice and develop essential life skills.
Read more about what inspires Gavin to volunteer and why civic engagement, especially among youth, is of the utmost importance to him.
Tell us about your volunteer role.
I’ve served as the head of finance for the Joshua’s Heart Foundation, specifically for the Miami Chapter. I’ve led a team of analysts – all youth, which is great – in researching and applying to grant opportunities in order to fundraise for the organization and pay off some of the fiscal responsibilities. Recently, we’ve been trying to get grants to support our mobile food distributions.
In addition, we’ve been trying to create tier sheets for potential companies to partner with. These are presentations that we present to our teams and potential investors we’d like to partner with in order to help out the organization with additional resources.
Why is this organization and issue so important to you?
I’m a South Florida native and have seen how food insecurity has rocked this area. When I’ve worked with the organization and attended food distribution events, I’ve seen how even in my local community, kids my own age are struggling with hunger. I’ve found a kind of moral obligation in myself to help out in any way I possibly can, in order to create more equity in the field and alleviate food insecurity.
So that’s one of my main drivers behind working for the organization – seeing the effects hunger has had on kids my age, and wanting to help relieve that so these kids can have the opportunity to have food on the table and ultimately have a successful life.
What inspired you to get started with JHF?
I got started with Joshua’s Heart Foundation about a year and a half ago. Some of my friends from school were talking about the foundation and they referred me to the Thanksgiving food distribution event. I was curious about the event, so I went. And I really fell in love with everything going on – the people volunteering, the organization itself, the youth-led initiatives within it… I really wanted to find a purpose within the organization, so I networked with some of the officials behind it and was able to apply for a position on the Junior Advisory Board.
What are your long-term plans or goals for the organization?
The long-term vision right now is the transition from Joshua’s Heart Foundation to Joshua’s Heart Foundation 2.0. This is more of a virtual-based method behind the organization, where our internal operations teams would be remote. So, more youth, not just in Miami but across the United States, would be able to contribute in any way they can.
Within the finance team specifically, one of our goals is to obtain more grant funding. With more grant funding, we can have more resources funneled in, more food distribution events, more operations and initiatives supported.
Another thing we’re currently trying to do is partner with more schools. We met with my school’s principal recently to discuss getting more students involved, in more of an internship-like capacity. We want to vertically integrate in other schools specifically in Florida, but all across the United States. We’d like to create a legion, in a way, of innovative youth changemakers who all want to help alleviate food insecurity in their local communities.
What’s been the most rewarding part of your work?
I think the most rewarding experience for me was a workshop I hosted for the foundation – it was a LinkedIn networking workshop. I thought the LinkedIn Thought Leader Forums were a really excellent opportunity to network with people, but I realized that not a lot of youth were involved. Which meant that these really innovative kids who wanted to have these networking opportunities weren’t leveraging the platform.
So I created this workshop to help kids get involved in safe way and help get some opportunities for the organization but also for themselves. The most meaningful thing has been the kids from schools across Florida reaching out and asking for advice and help and sharing the opportunities they’ve been able to get via LinkedIn. It’s been truly phenomenal and I’ve gained a lot of pride in it.
I think it’s incredibly rewarding when people share their soft skills and interpersonal skills and they refine them, then they meet and network with a variety of people and get the opportunity for cross-cultural awareness. This can not only help them in a business setting but also elsewhere in the real world – creating relationships through networking that have the potential to change the world.
Why is it important for people to get involved with the causes they care about?
A the end of the day, a community is not just one person. For a community to thrive, it has to be a cultural makeup of lots of different people. But unfortunately, there are circumstances and systemic issues that plague certain parts of the community. There is a moral obligation we have, which requires some teamwork and dedication to help the entire community.
When people see, for instance in the South Florida community, that there is so much diversity, so many cultures and so much love, if there’s an issue like food insecurity plaguing that community, people should definitely try their best to help in any way they can. Maybe that’s volunteering with an organization like Joshua’s Heart Foundation, or maybe it’s through political advocacy – like lobbying with local policymakers to help fight food insecurity. From a business standpoint, maybe they can create partnerships with companies reduce food waste. There are so many different ways – on a corporate level, a conglomerate level, a political level or an individual level – to get involved.
Any advice for people who want to start volunteering?
I think the easiest way is to try to find the intersection between their work experiences or passions and volunteering. Also, utilize platforms such as LinkedIn to network with people and try to create awareness about certain issues. A single piece of dialogue can make a difference.
Within Joshua’s Heart Foundation, we have a lot of opportunities, specifically youth, to help out. Sometimes kids may not know how to do that, and we take pride in uplifting and empowering youth to become leaders in their own communities. I think one of the best things to note is that love has no barriers. In an organization where everyone has the same objective, the same goal, the same light at the end of the tunnel, there’s nothing to be afraid of. That kind of organization will be motivated to share their skills and help one another out. So, don’t be afraid to take one leap of faith – that could lead to some phenomenal outcomes in your community.
Do you want to make a difference in your community like Gavin? Find local volunteer opportunities.