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 firstname.lastname@example.org