Gilbert teen's

Ahmad Riyad, left, of Gilbert, and his best friend Kiyan Saisson, started a nonprofit to help people experiencing homelessness. (Special to GSN)

Ahmad Riyad is so busy one has to wonder when he sleeps.

The 17-year-Gilbert resident admits his extracurriculars at Arizona College Prep High School, where he is a senior, “are pretty extensive.”

And on top of that, he runs a nonprofit that helps unsheltered people – and enlists other teens in that work so they can earn community service credits at school.

The oldest of three children of Mohammad Riyad and Mitra Mashayekhi, Ahman is the president of the school’s Biophysics Club and is starting a specialized program called the BioSense, Biophysics Pipeline.

That program is a joint effort involving middle schools and high schools, Arizona State University and the U.S. Department of Defense and is looking for “a feasible way to have a representation and interactive models of molecules in classrooms as early as elementary school.”

The program involves an invention that won second place in the biomedical category at this year’s Arizona Science Fair and for which he holds a provisional patent.

Ahmad also belongs to the Future Medical Professional Club, Science Club, Space and Exploration Club and other general science orientated organizations on campus.

And he’s just as busy off campus.

“I volunteer a good bit off of campus,” he said. “I have made rounds volunteering at a clinic called Gilbert Complete Medical as an intern, I have done volunteering at Arizona State University under the Biosense program in a lab. I am also currently about to begin as an intern under a pediatrician at Chandler Pediatrics as well.

“I am pretty oriented towards public health and wellbeing and I hope to have my future be prolonged in that field.”

Ahmad also helps his father write immigration papers and statements and said he’s active in the youth Arab-American community “advocating for human rights and humanitarian action.”

Which leads us to his nonprofit, Azara Branch, through which Ahmad has provided 1,800 meals, 900 heat-relief products and 400 feminine hygiene products for people experiencing homelessness.

“We have gotten the attention of the City of Phoenix and have even become sponsored by them,” he said, hoping to attract the attention of “someone who runs a front-line service” so he can further extend his helping hand.

“I have issued over 600 hours in volunteer credits for other students at schools,” he said. “I believe Azara Branch is a foundational precedent to show other students what they can do and how they can innovate on their own to serve their community.”

The nonprofit grew out of a conversation he and his friend, Kiyan Saisson, had one day in the school cafeteria.

“Being from privileged households and recognizing inequality’s permanence in our nation,” he said, they decided to take advantage of their privilege to help the less fortunate.

At the time, they had no funding or support – and no accreditation.

Undeterred, Ahmad handled the website and legal paperwork and Kiyan diligently worked on outreach and recruiting volunteers.

By April, they were ready to begin their good work.

Ahmad, Kiyan and four other friends purchased $100 worth of food, drove to a Phoenix homeless encampment known as “The Zone” and passed out the items.

As the months passed, more people became interested, they started pooling donations and approached service groups for some help.

A few months later, Azara Branch obtained its tax-exempt status and developed an official partnership with the City of Phoenix.

“Overall, Azara Branch is a great morale booster to those around,” and I would absolutely love to… get my message broadcasted in order to get many more children just like me out working for a better Arizona.”

As his high school days tick down, Ahmad has his sights set on applying to the Franke Honors College at the University of Arizona, his father’s alma mater.

His buddy Kiyan already enrolled there, “and through being my de facto big brother for 12 years, I plan on joining him,” he explains.

Both teens want careers in medicine.

“I enjoy public service, and helping out my community will never waver,” Ahmad said. “However, I feel as the most efficient way for me to give back to the community is by becoming a pediatrician.”

To help his nonprofit: azarabranch.org.