At the start of the COVID pandemic in 2020, Sunnyvale Community Services (SCS) was faced with a dilemma. The need had skyrocketed, but with COVID as an unknown quantity, no one was sure how to manage and limit the face-to-face interactions with customers. Sunnyvale Community Services has adapted since then and part of that adaptation is thanks to two service-minded Sunnyvale teens.
Earlier this year, Nitya Kuppireddy was looking to complete a service project for her Girl Scouts’ Gold Award. The St. Francis (Mtn. View) High School senior knew that Sunnyvale Community Services worked within her community, so she reached out to see how she could help.
“They told me that they had paper calendars for their Food Distribution Program and that the clients had reported that it’s really hard to keep track of,” said Kuppireddy. “Especially with COVID, even giving them out was getting difficult. [So,] having a mobile app would be a good solution to keeping track of those calendars.”
Kuppireddy had never created an iPhone app before but she was up to the challenge.
“I did not have any experience with making an app. So, it was a lot of research and figuring out what to do. A lot of trial-and-error kind of thing,” said Kuppireddy.
At the same time, Dhruv Goyal was looking for something he could do in the community for his Eagle Scout project. When the Bellarmine High School senior reached out to SCS, an employee immediately responded saying the agency had an iPhone app but it needed an Android app.
“I was really interested in the opportunity because app development and computer sciences is one thing that I’m pretty passionate about. So, I immediately jumped at the opportunity,” said Goyal. “I basically just knew a couple of different computer science languages in general. But I’d never actually embarked on a large-scale project like this. So, I also kind of needed to learn app development myself.”
Both Goyal and Kuppireddy say not only did creating the app expand their technical skills, but it also helped them gain a different perspective on who they are and what they can do.
“I think one of the really big takeaways that I actually have from the app is that you shouldn’t really be scared about kind of not knowing how to do certain things,” said Goyal. “I didn’t have app development experience before, I was kind of questioning if I should take on the project a little bit.
“But I decided that you can learn yourself,” continued Goyal. “There are a bunch of resources, especially nowadays in the information age…You shouldn’t really be scared about something you can’t do. You should try to just attempt it, learn it and if you fail, then you can ask for help. But I think just taking that courageous step to take on a new project.”
“I think it was really intimidating at first because the thought of creating an app when you don’t really know the actual concrete stuff behind that is really intimidating. At least it was for me,” said Kuppireddy. “There’s so many resources online. I watched a lot of YouTube videos. There were a lot of articles that are really helpful online. I think it’s one of those things where you just…you don’t know if you can do it until you really jump in and try it.”