Tyler Fiorino is a student, a Boy Scout, and a champion for the homeless. He’s also only thirteen years old, and yet he was recently featured in The Spokesman-Review for his work helping local homeless people in his city stay warm during the winter months.
A seventh grader at PRIDE Prep Public Charter School in Spokane, Tyler remembers first wanting to help the homeless in his community when a windstorm hit Spokane with 70mph winds last year. “There was a huge windstorm that knocked down power across Spokane for many days,” Tyler told Maggie Meyers, Director of Communications for WA Charters. “My family and I got really cold, we had nowhere to go, and I felt really bad that what we were experiencing temporarily was what others experience all the time, their whole lives.”
So, he started delivering hand warmers he had saved from an old Boy Scout trip to some of the homeless in town. When he ran out of them, he started shoveling sidewalks and completing other odd jobs to earn money to purchase more hand warmers. He convinced his twin brother, Dylan, to help him out, and now they do the work together hoping to raise money to buy more items and make more of an impact on helping the homeless community.
“Our lives right now revolve around volunteering and I’m just so happy that we can help people.”
Last Fall, Tyler applied for the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards at the suggestion of his grandmother and the founder of PRIDE Prep, Brenda McDonald. It’s an award that provides $1,000 to students for their college funds, honoring them for performing humanitarian and service projects. “I wrote a page and a half about how I did this project and Miss Brenda nominated me. Two months later I got an envelope in the mail that I won the scholarship.”
Of the 32,000 students who applied, only 102 were honored with the award — and Tyler was one of them. He and his grandmother, along with the other recipients, were flown across the country for an all-expense-paid trip to Washington D.C. for the awards ceremony. Tyler had the chance to meet other students from around the world who are doing their part to improve communities. “I connected with kids who like to do the same thing as me, and having this network of student volunteers inspires me to continue doing this work.”
As Tyler thinks about what he wants to do next with his service project, he hopes to see more of his friends and classmates back at home get involved in service projects like his. “I would like to inspire more kids,” he says. “It helps you and the other people – It relieves a lot of stress for me while I’m helping others.”
In additional to fighting for change in their local community, Tyler and Dylan’s grandmother is an intervenor on behalf of Washington students and parents in the ongoing El Centro de la Raza v. Washington case.