BY KEVIN DEVLIN
It’s good to teach future generations about the spirit of giving to those less fortunate than ourselves. It’s in America’s DNA to open our hearts to do so, and Jake Rooney’s story is a testament to that resolve regarding worthy causes.
Jake is the son of Mark and Theresa Rooney. He has a brother named Nolan and a sister named Bridget. He attends Roxbury Latin in West Roxbury, where he’s an honor roll student. Last spring, Jake was the recipient of the Joan Regan Service Award for the student who demonstrates leadership and community service.
Jake’s a member of the Drama Club and has participated in six school plays. Recently, he was in the play entitled the ‘Christmas Truce’- a true story about German and British soldiers on the front lines in World War I ,who crossed into no man’s land on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to mingle, as well as to exchange food and souvenirs. It was an unofficial truce, a reprieve from fighting. He’s currently involved in the play ‘Wait until Dark’ and was the football team’s manager last fall.
For the past two school years, Jake and schoolmate Will Ebben have been the student coordinators for the Haley House service program. Once a month they take a group of sophomores to the Haley House in the South End and cook meals for the homeless and other less fortunate people. Jake has also been involved in the Connected Living project for seniors for two years. Senior citizens are welcomed to the school and students introduce them technology by showing them how to use computers, iPhones, and other gadgets.
Jake is involved in the school’s Ave Atque Vale (Hail and Farewell) initiative. Students act as pallbearers for homeless people who have no one to mourn for them.
“It’s a meaningful experience,” he said. “Some people are buried and there’s no one to be there to say goodbye to them. It’s pretty sad. We’re glad to be there for them to say a prayer and say we care about them. “
Jake’s favorite school endeavor is the annual Christmas toy drive. Jake and schoolmate Logan Warshaw started the program as eighth-grade students.
“Logan knew about another group who started this,” he said. “I knew about Julie’s Program (in Southie) from my grandma (Hon Rooney), so we eventually decided to bring the toys we got to Julie’s.
“The thought of kids not receiving Christmas presents sort of shocked us,” Jake added. “So we wanted to help out as much as we could. Each year we have been getting more and more toys. We have bins in all the classrooms. It’s pretty cool to see how many toys, especially new toys that we have been getting from the students and teachers. We got so many that we ended up being the main contributor to Julie’s. It was great to know we were making a difference.”
Last year, Julie’s Family Learning Program gave Jake and Logan an award at their annual dinner. They also received citations from the House of Representatives and the state Senate, sponsored by Representative Nick Collins and Senator Linda Dorcena Forry respectively. Jake and Logan proudly received these accolades on behalf of Roxbury Latin and the student body.
Robert D. Monahan, the executive director of Julie’s, is ecstatic about these toy donations.
“We try to get toys for about 100 families each Christmas,” he said. “This takes an enormous pressure off the parents, especially single-parent moms. Jake and Logan have a done a great job organizing their toy fundraising drive. These contributions from Roxbury Latin are substantial and we are grateful for them.”
Jake’s parents smile when they think about their son’s unselfishness.
“We are proud of Jake’s involvement,” said his dad. “I’d like to think my wife and I played a part but the bigger influence is my mother who was on Julie’s board. She took him to a few annual dinners and gave him an understanding of what the program was all about. My father-in-law, George ‘Giggs’ McManus, who has done so much in addiction services, was also a great influence on Jake.”
“In addition to this,” he said, “growing up in this community, you can’t help having community service in your blood.”
Know a student deserving of attention? South Boston Online welcomes information about individuals who contribute to their community. Contact Kevin Devlin at firstname.lastname@example.org or South Boston Online staff at Mail@SouthBostonOnline.com.