Recently, freshman Ezra Werlinich has been given the Future Leader of the Year award by the Association of Development Officers (ADO), a nonprofit organization devoted to raising public awareness in philanthropy, based in White Plains.
The award was given to Werlinich for his work in the soup kitchen at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Port Chester.
“I’ve been volunteering [at the soup kitchen] since I was seven… I volunteer every single Monday from 5:00 to 6:30,” Werlinich said. Werlinich explained that he first started to volunteer for the soup kitchen because his mom had nowhere to take him while his older sister volunteered there, but soon the obligation became anything but that.
“I ended up loving [volunteering] so much that I wanted to go back every week,” Werlinich said. “My mom was only too happy to oblige.”
While volunteering at the soup kitchen, Werlinich says that there are a myriad of tasks to be completed:
“At the soup kitchen, I help prepare the food, make ‘carry outs’ (packaged up food to go), serve the food (which is usually some combination of chicken, rice, pasta, soup, salad, and dessert). I [later] wipe down the tables when all the people leave [and also help to] clean all our own pans and pots.”
Werlinich also added that he finds volunteering at the soup kitchen a very gratifying experience.
“My favorite part of working at the soup kitchen is meeting all of these new people. Some people don’t really talk much, but some people are really nice and make some small talk,” Werlinich. “It’s also really gratifying when I serve the people; and when they say thank you, I can see that they genuinely mean it,” he said.
In addition to volunteering at the soup kitchen, Werlinich also hopes to further expand his philanthropic efforts.
“I have been planning to start either a clothes and/or food drive soon, and I’m really hoping to get more kids my age involved through youth groups like the girls scouts, who have volunteered at the soup kitchen in the past, and local synagogues or churches,” said Welinich.
In addition, Werlinich hopes that he will be able to continue volunteering throughout his whole time at the high school, in college, and even after college and beyond. In terms of his hopes for the future, Werlinich said, “I really hope to keep working at the soup kitchen until I leave for college, and possibly do some clothes or food drives along the way. After that, once I’m out of college and have a job, I’m hoping to find another way I can get involved, like working at [a place that is] similar to the Food Bank of Westchester.”