After a summer spent working for the Build America program, Zack Van Hoesen received special recognition for his efforts called the Summer of Service award. Van Hoesen was invited to a ceremony in Washington D.C. to be presented the award. He arrived there on Saturday, Aug. 10, where Chad Coltrane, the CEO of Push America, announced his award during the ceremony.
Push America is a nonprofit organization associated with the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity, of which Van Hoesen is a member. He was honored for his efforts over the past summer in camps for the disabled. Build America is intended to help give undergraduate students in the Kappa Phi fraternity leadership experience through service.
Van Hoesen’s work involved a variety of construction projects to make camps more accessible to the disability community. Van Hoesen says he learned to operate a jackhammer, drive Bobcat construction vehicles, and apply some of the skills he acquired working with his father.
Van Hoesen’s dad Ken is a plumber who has allowed Zack to work with him for several summers.
“The biggest thing about the experience was a perspective change,” Van Hoesen said, “it makes you value life more.”
He also said some of the disabled people he met really left an impression on him. Ben, a wheelchair-bound blind man with a mental disability, came to recognize Van Hoesen’s voice. The two developed codenames for one another and Van Hoesen helped him eat.
“He was the happiest guy you’d meet in your life,” Van Hoesen explained as the reason Ben was such a memorable person.
Other than the ones he helped, Van Hoesen also became good friends with his fellow workers.
Van Hoesen’s time at Oregon State University has led him to take advantage not only of Kappa Phi opportunities, but also Corvallis’s Rotary Club events, volunteer work at local parks, and sorority fundraisers for charity.
He will be biking this coming summer with the Kappa Phi’s Journey of Hope bicycling fundraiser. Van Hoesen’s half-brother Kelton also plans on joining the Build America program next summer.
Journey of Hope offers three different courses for participants. All three converge in Washington, D.C., but Van Hoesen plans to ride with a group that leaves from San Francisco.
Van Hoesen says one of the most valuable things he learned was a phrase past members of the project came up with – “It’s not about disabilities, but different abilities.”