Teen uses gifts to serve others
There wasn’t much pomp or circumstance when Eshaan Gandhi found out he’d won this year’s Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy award.
The soft-spoken 17-year-old admitted to just “scrolling in my email one day” when he came across a “congratulations” message from the Cincinnati chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
Despite the lack of fireworks in the announcement, the selection committee chose to recognize Eshaan for the impact he has already had on his community.
The award committee praised Eshaan for creating Music on Court, a music education program for under-resourced students. They also congratulated him on his long-standing volunteer work at local hospitals.
“I was pretty surprised,” the Indian Hill High School senior said. “I was very honored to receive it just because – you know, I’ve tried to put a lot of effort into all of it.”
Eshaan created Music on Court in 2021 in partnership with the Cincinnati Tennis Foundation. As part of the program, Eshaan and a small group of volunteers travel to local schools to provide music and tennis lessons to hundreds of students.
A member of his school’s tennis team, Eshaan has found playing music to be a great way to “decompress and refocus.” He wanted to give other young people a similar experience.
Eshaan said he did some research on “the effects of music on a neurological level and learned music is great for reducing anxiety and improving performance,” said Eshaan, who plays trombone in the Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestra.
Eshaan has received a number of grants and private gifts to support the program. One of the largest was $3,750 from ArtsWave to purchase and donate keyboards and other instruments.
“Music on the Court has done a great job introducing kids to music in a fun, approachable way,” said Nikki Cioffi, Cincinnati Tennis Foundation’s CFO. “Eshaan is great with the kids, and they always look forward to their next lesson.”
While still only 17, Eshaan is a veteran when it comes to giving back. He began his philanthropic journey by volunteering at TriHealth hospitals. His father, Gaurang, is a cardiologist, and his mother, Neha, is a physician as well.
Early in the pandemic, Eshaan overheard his parents discussing communication difficulties with patients because of the lack of face-to-face interaction.
Eshaan proposed a solution: MyChart, an existing medical record app that allows for doctor-patient messaging.
Two-plus years ago not everyone knew how to use MyChart. So, Eshaan went to TriHealth and asked to create a training program to show patients how to use it.
“We weren’t doing a lot in school at the time, so I thought I would use that free time to help out,” Eshaan said.
Eshaan’s father recalled nothing but positive feedback about his son’s efforts. It wasn’t just coming from patients. Gaurang’s colleagues noted the training made it easier to provide better care for their patients.
“We’re very proud of him,” Eshann’s father said, speaking for Eshann’s mother, Neha, as well. “He’s just dedicated to helping as many people as he can, in as many ways as he can.”
Right now, Eshaan is focused on college applications. While he doesn’t know where he’ll attend school, he plans to continue giving back.
“I’ve been given a lot, and I want to make sure I’m leaving my mark on every community I can,” he said.
2023 National Philanthropy Day luncheon
Thursday, Nov. 16, Music Hall Ballroom
Presented by AFP Cincinnati, the luncheon recognizes individuals and organizations for their contributions to Greater Cincinnati nonprofits. Networking: 11 a.m. Program and luncheon: 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Tickets: $100 (nonprofit) and $150 (corporate).