By Neil Homstad
Loyola students are known for their commitment to service, but one Cub in particular has surpassed the call to serve in an exponential fashion. His name is Ryan Valte, and he has accrued 585 hours and 45 minutes of community service in the greater Los Angeles region in his high school career.
Although community service has always been ingrained in his participation as an Eagle Scout, Valte, a junior, said that he started prioritizing community service at the beginning of his sophomore year. He found No Limits for Deaf Children, an organization that teaches deaf children the skills to succeed in school and in life through its national theater group and educational centers.
Since sophomore year, Valte has added two additional service sites, the Westside YMCA and St. Timothy’s Catholic Church, and serves on the Community Service Team for Loyola.
Along with the assistance of community service Director and Program Coordinator, Tom Zeko and Angela Moran, Valte has discovered numerous service sites and opportunities.
“Mr. Zeko and Mrs. Moran truly opened my eyes to the service opportunities out in the city for me to get involved in,” Valte said. “I actually set my sights on No Limits for Deaf Children through a list of service centers Mr. Zeko provided me with. Loyola has affected me in a way where I have developed a sense of care not just for myself but also for those in the community.”
Dividing his time between No Limits, coaching nine-year-olds in basketball and serving at mass, Valte serves for 10 hours and 30 minutes a week.
Valte normally spends about three hours at No Limits on Mondays and Thursdays and six hours on the weekends. He spends two hours coaching basketball at practice on Wednesdays and a hour and a half on Saturdays for basketball games.
Valte dedicates the majority of his community service hours to No Limits for Deaf Children.
“I support and want to be apart of their mission: nurturing and teaching deaf children to reach their potentials and allowing them to reach heights they never thought they could reach,” Valte said.
For his comprehensive portfolio and significant number of hours, Valte has received three Presidential Service Awards: a gold, silver and bronze. The President’s Volunteer Service Award recognizes citizens who have achieved a certain number of community service hours. Recipients with 50-74 hours receive the bronze. Those with 75-99 receive the silver medal and volunteers with 100 plus hours receive the gold award.
Valte said that time management is essential and that academics and extracurriculars with community service can be hard at times. He feels that his various service activities allow him to forget about his stress. Seeing the kids every week at No Limits for Deaf Children allows him to feel thankful for the abilities he has been given to give back to the community.
The culminating moment of Valte’s community service was assisting an impaired boy practice with his speech for his graduation at No Limits for Deaf Children.
“It was truly incredible how open he was to learn, to listen and to continue trying even if he stumbled on a few words,” Valte said. “Through watching his excitement and confidence, it has inspired me to become a better student and a better person.”
“Personally, the positive feeling that I get after helping someone and knowing that I have somehow touched the community in a beneficial way motivates me everyday to make an effort to try to set a couple hours aside for the less fortunate or the handicapped,” Valte said.