By Nadia Maria Smith
CS&T Staff Writer
WEST GROVE – Eighth-grader Ryan Wiesenberg of Assumption B.V.M. School in West Grove knows a thing or two about service.
Ryan was recently awarded the President’s Volunteer Service Award – a national award that recognizes and honors Americans who, by their demonstrated commitment and example, inspire others to engage in volunteer service.
At 13, Ryan is doing just that. He encourages others to volunteer “because you are really impacting a lot of people,” he said. “Originally I did it just to get experience before I take a job, and then I started having fun seeing everyone that I was helping, so I kept going and doing more and more.”
He credits his parents, Susan and Paul Wiesenberg, for his interest in volunteer work both through their own example and through their encouragement, he said.
“My Catholic faith also plays a big role because the Catholic Church has done a lot for me by supporting me in my education and helping me in general over the years, so I wanted to give back to them and to the rest of the community like they did to me,” he said.
Ryan’s volunteer work includes giving his time to the YMCA, Boy Scouts, Assumption B.V.M.’s Youth Praise Team and JPMorgan Chase’s Eagle’s Nest, a program for working parents in which Ryan organized crafts for the children. He also volunteered with the Avon Grove Christmas Basket Program, through which he collected food items for Christmas to give to those in need.
His favorite project was one he did with little brother Kyle, now 9 years old – creating a Power Point presentation for the Reach Foundation’s Vision of Choice Campaign. The campaign was meant to solicit financial support from businesses to subsidize tuition for children who can’t afford to attend private or Catholic schools. In their presentation, the Wiesenberg boys highlighted the difference such an education makes.
“My school is all about values and improving our faith and the faith of others. They help us make the right choices and are very supportive of our volunteer work,” Ryan said.
He plans to continue his volunteer work in high school and hopes to someday be a software engineer, he said. “I have always been amazed how computer technology has advanced. Now you can create a 3D image and make it move. It also helps that my dad is very skilled in computers and has helped me along.”
Ryan said he was amazed when he heard he was receiving the award for his volunteerism. He hopes more young people will get involved because it is incredibly rewarding, he said.
CS&T staff writer Nadia Maria Smith may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (215) 965-4614.