Two Sundays ago, Christopher Ramirez woke up and went straight to the Riverdale Community Center (RCC), where he helped out with maintenance work. After that, he took tickets for a theater performance that the non-profit center organized. Once that was done, he hit the baseball diamond to play right field for his team at the David A. Stein Riverdale/Kingsbridge Academy (RKA, M.S./H.S. 141).
Years of making that kind of effort earned Mr. Ramirez, 18, a youth leadership award from Community Board (CB) 8 and the New York Yankees, who gave $750 prizes to the senior and four other winners in the northwest Bronx.
During a recent interview at RCC, which is in the same building as RKA, located at 660 W. 237th St., the head of the center’s after-school program said nominating Mr Ramirez for the award was a no-brainer.
“He’s extremely dependable,” Gloria Williams said. “I just know once I say, Chris I need you to do this or move this or do that, it’s done.”
Mr. Ramirez’s relationship with RCC started when he was in middle school. From sixth through eighth grade, he took advantage of the center’s after-school programs offering homework help, sports and other activities. He was on RCC’s 2010 rugby team, which won the Mayor’s Cup on Randall’s Island.
During that time, he developed bonds with the staff that inspired him to stay involved.
“When I first started the program, I got used to all the instructors,” Mr. Ramirez recalled. “I said when I grow up, I’m going to be just like them.”
He acted on that mentality to vigorously volunteer during his ninth and tenth grade years at RKA. In his junior year, the center took him on as a part-time employee to assist its after-school programs. Along with tasks like passing out supplies and helping during sports activities, Mr. Ramirez occasionally assists younger students with math, his favorite subject.
“A lot of the students need community service hours, so they’ll come and get the hours for us and then they’ll go on,” Ms. Williams said. “He hasn’t needed hours since the ninth grade, but he’s a senior and he’s still with us.”