Ryan Micho, a senior at Baker High School, will receive the Wegmans Health and Wellness Award at the CNY Young and Amazing Awards ceremony, which takes place March 7 at the Everson Museum of Art. He also has been awarded a Certificate of Excellence from The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a national program that honors youth volunteers nationwide for outstanding volunteer service. Micho is shown here accepting the Prudential award from Baker High School Principal Donald Root. (Submitted photo)
At an age when most teenage boys are emptying out their parents’ refrigerators, Ryan Micho is helping fill his classmates’ cupboards. Last year, Micho helped found the Bee Full food pantry at Baker High School. Now, he is the recipient of two awards for his work with Bee Full.
Micho, a senior, has received a Certificate of Excellence from The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a national program that honors youth volunteers nationwide for outstanding volunteer service. This week, he will accept another honor from the CNY Young and Amazing Awards: the Wegmans Health and Wellness Award. The award ceremony takes place March 7 at the Everson Museum of Art.
“It’s nice to know that it is making a difference … to know I made a change in this community before I go off to college,” Micho said.
Working with the Baker Key Club and faculty advisor Dana Rubadou, a teaching assistant in Baker’s Career Center, Micho helped launch Bee Full just before February break in 2018 thanks to a $1,125 grant from the Halo Foundation, a partnership between Nickelodeon and Key Club International. The Baldwinsville Teachers Association and the First Presbyterian Church of Baldwinsville provided additional support to get the pantry off the ground.
Micho and his fellow Bee Full committee members shop for grocery staples at Aldi and write thank-you notes to community donors. A student in a BOCES program packs the items for distribution.
“There’s some seasonal stuff. We had Girl Scout cookies at one point because they donated them,” Micho said.
Twice a month, Bee Full distributes granola bars, pasta, peanut butter and more to about 20 students. Some students are recommended by their teachers and others approach Bee Full themselves. The program is confidential.
“We have about 1,500 kids in this building,” Rubadou told the Messenger last fall. “How many kids do you think get free or reduced lunch in this building? … It’s 328. I feel like I’m barely touching the surface.”
Micho said he was shocked to learn that more than 20 percent of Baker students qualify for free or reduced meals.
“I didn’t realize the need in the community when I started this,” he said. “It was surprising. If I had to take a guess, I would have said a tenth or something.”
While it’s Ryan Micho’s name that is on the awards, he is quick to share the credit with his fellow Bee Full committee members and Rubadou.
“Mrs. Rubadou has definitely been the biggest help. I went to her with an idea and she made it possible. She guided me through,” he said. “The committee and all the people who have helped me with this — it’s not a one-man job.”
Micho said the greater Baldwinsville community rose to the occasion when it came to meeting the food pantry’s needs.
“There was a great response. We wouldn’t be running if it wasn’t for them,” he said.
School administrators embraced the idea of the food pantry, Micho said.
“Everyone was rooting for me,” he said.
As Micho enters the home stretch of his senior year, he’s preparing to transfer food pantry operations to a new group of students: Aidan Priest, Adam Kinville and his younger brother, Aidan Micho. Rubadou will be passing her torch as well; school psychologist Wanda Wachob and AP Biology teacher Sheila Heaton will serve as faculty advisors.
Ashley M. Casey is a reporter for The Baldwinsville Messenger and The Eagle Star-Review. She graduated from Le Moyne College in 2012 and previously worked for the Scotsman Press.