High School Freshman Leads Drive to Help Homeless
November is National Homeless Youth Awareness Month and, while many high school students are busying themselves with the daily grind of rigorous classes and athletics, Nick Rizos of Danvers is doing the same and then some. A freshman at St. John’s Preparatory School, he has a lot on his plate; he’s quite busy with schoolwork and football and catches what free time he can on the weekends.
But Rizos maintains reserves of energy to consider others in need. He, in partnership with the Boston Healthcare for the Homeless Program (BHCHP), will lead a drive starting in November during National Homeless Youth Awareness Month to collect clothing, backpacks and toiletries for homeless individuals and families.
Rizos knows that other kids his age are among those struggling. “Individuals and families who have fallen into financial difficulties can also become homeless,” he says. “There are even homeless high school students due to their families falling into the cycle of poverty.” In the 2017 to 2018 academic year at least 24,071 Massachusetts public school students of all ages experienced a period of homelessness, and the population of Massachusetts homeless children and families has never been higher than it is today. www.mahomeless.org/about-us/basic-facts
Rizos notes his own advantages are part of what gets him thinking about others. “I have the luxury of attending a private school that requires tuition,” he says. “It humbles me to think of how much I have in my life compared to others who don’t have these things.” St. John’s motto, “Compassion, Humility and Zeal,” is on his mind.
After BHCHP’s lead physician Dr. James O’Connell gave a talk at the school in May, Rizos toured the facility, and wanted to do his own part, stating “This organization does what I want and love to do. When I grow up, I would like to work in the medical field so I can help others. Because of my young age, this is the most I can do at the moment.”
But the most is quite a lot. In mid-September, Rizos met with state Rep. Ted Speliotis (13th Essex District) to discuss another project. Rizos had planned to help donate meals to Peabody’s Haven From Hunger with the New Brothers Restaurant & Deli in Danvers. Now, he has Speliotis on board to help serve meals with some colleagues from the Statehouse.
A variation on a familiar adage, “A candle loses nothing by sharing its flame,” is the lens through which Nick likes to view his efforts. This is just what he wants to do.
The clothing and toiletry drive will run some from now through the spring. He is seeking donations and assistance from people across the Merrimack Valley, particularly other high school students. Additional need will be stressed around Thanksgiving and the holidays.
Items of interest include: water bottles, granola bars, rain ponchos, socks, shampoo, conditioner, toothbrushes, toothpaste, brushes, combs, deodorant, razor blades, shaving cream and tissues.
Monetary donations may be made at: BHCHP.org/make-gift or you can use BHCHP Rizos on Venmo.