Mt. Vernon High School Student takes servant leadership to the next level

Provided by Mt. Vernon Community School Corporation

The importance of serving others is taught throughout a student’s educational career at Mt. Vernon Community School Corporation. However, some inspiring students take servant leadership much further. Senior Matthew Boyle is one of those students.

Through his efforts, visitors at the Kenneth Butler Memorial Soup Kitchen are seeing life much clearer with their new free eye glasses from Ossip Optometry.

Matthew became involved with the Butler Soup Kitchen when he volunteered with his mom last summer and realized he enjoyed the tasks and engaging with the people. The volunteers helped inspire him to try and make a difference in other people’s lives. The Soup Kitchen uses every bit of food they receive, including food donated from Mt. Vernon Schools’ food rescue (unused packaged cafeteria food).

Some of the responsibilities he helps with include many tasks others don’t really want to do: wash tables and chairs, take trash out, as well as organize and distribute food. Matthew says he really doesn’t mind at all, he’s happy to serve.

While he’s at the Soup Kitchen, he tries to ask the visitors how they are doing, with a smile.

“I want to make their day better, because they deserve to be treated the same,” Boyle says. “They are people like you and me, only because of some unfortunate event or random circumstance, they are struggling to find a place to live or eat.”

His mother’s office is in the same building complex as an Ossip Optometry, and through this connection, they learned that one time a year, Ossip gives a free eye exam and glasses to those in need on their “Ossip Day of Giving.” It was at that point when Matthew thought perhaps the Soup Kitchen visitors could benefit from their offer.

The wheels began in motion when Matthew and his mom met with Dr. Shane Robbins, the Superintendent at Mt. Vernon Community School Corporation, and requested a school bus to transport Soup Kitchen visitors to the Ossip Optometry in Greenwood.

“It is admirable and rare to have a student to lead and serve others to this degree,” Dr. Robbins says. “It was an easy decision to support Matthew in his efforts to serve others and improve their eyesight.”

Boyle had asked visitors at the Soup Kitchen and the Hope House, which is a short-term homeless shelter that gives people training and resources to become employed and independent. A total of 34 people in need signed up that they would meet at the Soup Kitchen one Saturday morning and ride the bus to Ossip Optometry.

“I realized the degree of the need when one person couldn’t see the paper well enough to know where to sign,” Matthew says.

On that early morning, eight people showed. They boarded the Mt. Vernon Community School Corporation bus and the Ossip Optometry staff greeted them with welcome smiles. All were fit for glasses, and the Ossip Optometrist visited the Soup Kitchen in late September with their glasses to personalize their fit.

Boyle has been volunteering with the Soup Kitchen for over a year. Throughout the summer and school breaks, he works approximately five-hour shifts from 2:30-7:30 p.m. His dedication recently earned him a board of Directors position at the Soup Kitchen. However, this position requires the person be 18 years of age, attend a monthly meeting and close down the kitchen once a month. Due to Matthew’s time commitments with school, baseball and college preparation, he had to decline. Should he have accepted, he would have been the youngest board member in the history of the Butler Soup Kitchen.

As a compromise, the Soup Kitchen created a Student Ambassador position for Matthew. He hopes to develop this position to create a sustainable youth legacy to leave behind. He plans to create a friendly competition between schools to raise donations for the Soup Kitchen and hopes to have a trivia night fundraiser to get more students involved with the organization.

“Once I graduate Mt. Vernon High School, I still plan to be involved with the Soup Kitchen on my breaks and hope to be a board member after I graduate college,” he says.

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