Northeast Times

Ninety reasons to cheer Loesche volunteer

Ga­jendra Vy­as was a bi­cycle sales­man in his nat­ive In­dia be­fore mov­ing to the United States in 1989.

Vy­as was en­joy­ing re­tire­ment when he got the itch to re­turn to the work­place.

Then near­ing his mid-70s, he con­tac­ted the Re­tired and Seni­or Vo­lun­teer Pro­gram, which placed him at the Wil­li­am Loes­che Ele­ment­ary School. The match has worked out per­fectly.

“He’s amaz­ing,” said prin­cip­al Vic­tor­ia Velazquez. “Mr. V will be here no mat­ter what. He makes Loes­che good.”

Vy­as has vo­lun­teered more than 10,000 hours since 1995.

To mark the mile­stone, cur­rent and former staff mem­bers re­cently gathered at the school to hon­or the vo­lun­teer ex­traordin­aire.

The room was dec­or­ated with bal­loons and signs. Guests en­joyed cake, ba­gels and cof­fee. Stu­dents cre­ated cards that were used as placemats. The school com­munity gave Vy­as a plaque, cards and a cash gift. Mar­cia Gross, dir­ect­or of the Klein JCC-based RS­VP, presen­ted him with a cer­ti­fic­ate of mer­it.

There was an­oth­er reas­on for Vy­as to cel­eb­rate on the morn­ing of Nov. 9. It was his 90th birth­day.

Among those re­turn­ing for the event was former prin­cip­al Mi­chael Kolakowski.

“He is so wel­com­ing,” Kolakowski said of Vy­as. “He’s the sym­bol of the school. He leads by ex­ample with his good­ness. He is a power­ful little man. He’s an hon­est, humble, happy man who sets the tone for the day.”

Vy­as seemed eager to get to work dur­ing the party. He works Mondays through Thursdays from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. He makes the morn­ing an­nounce­ments on the pub­lic-ad­dress sys­tem, re­peat­ing “Loes­che is good” three times, with stu­dents re­spond­ing, “We are al­ways good.”

Staff mem­bers noted that bad weath­er doesn’t keep Vy­as from mak­ing it to the school, loc­ated at Bustleton Av­en­ue and Tom­lin­son Road in Somer­ton. They de­scribe him as hard-work­ing and ded­ic­ated.

One of his du­ties is op­er­at­ing the copi­er ma­chine. He also leads school cheers for the loc­al pro­fes­sion­al sports teams and en­cour­ages the stu­dents be­fore they take stand­ard­ized tests. And he puts stu­dent in­form­a­tion on blue cards.

“He’s very en­er­get­ic,” said former sec­ret­ary Linda Al­ten. “No job is ever too big. He loves to keep busy.”

Why is Vy­as so ded­ic­ated to Loes­che?

“All the prin­cipals are very nice, and I like every­body,” he said. ••

Re­port­er Tom War­ing can be reached at 215-354-3034 or twar­ing@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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