FHS senior gives back to community

Alyssa Vianese, a senior at Fredonia High School, is a special young person who doesn’t just follow the crowd. Her choice of activities makes that quite clear. For one thing, she is Literacy Volunteers most reliable high school volunteer.

Alyssa has made quite a few friends at their bookstore located at 21 East 2nd St. in Dunkirk. Indeed, she is the type of young person that gives older people hope for the future.

Alyssa has been assisting at the bookstore since October 2012. Most Saturdays, she volunteers from 10 a.m to 12:30 p.m.

Martha Wiser, a Literacy Volunteers board member and the bookstore manager, said, “Alyssa knows all the jobs in the store. She is wonderful with the customers.”

When asked what made her decide to volunteer at Literacy Volunteers, Alyssa said, “My grandma, Priscilla Bernatz, is friends with some of the people (at Literacy Volunteers). I wanted to do some community service and got their number and asked if I could volunteer. They said to come on in.”

Alyssa said she continues to volunteer because, “I really like the atmosphere there. Everyone is very nice and welcoming.”

Alyssa said that she works with Odette Hice, another board member who tutors and volunteers on Saturdays at the bookstore. The two have formed a bond. Alyssa explained they laugh and have a good time during the time she is there.

When asked about Alyssa, Hice was very willing to say good things.

Hice said, “Alyssa is a fantastic young woman. She is extremely reliable and lets us know if she can’t come in. She has learned every aspect of the bookstore – taking in books (donations), shelving them, finding books for customers, and running the cash register. She is so personable that the customers are very comfortable with her.”

Hice also noted that anything that Alyssa is asked to do, she does with “no grumble.”

Asked what they talk and laugh about, Hice said, “Just about anything. We talked about the Winter Ball at her school. We discuss music, what we do and don’t like. We have talked about what colleges she would like to attend.”

The National Honor Society at Fredonia High School requires its members to do community service and Alyssa has even brought in members who need to fulfill their obligations.

During the past Christmas season, Alyssa decided she wanted to do something more for the organization she loves. Using her family’s “Kris Kringles” recipe, which she described as a thin buttery sugar cookie, she asked teachers at Fredonia to donate money in exchange for plates of cookies. She wrote to the high school teachers explaining the mission of Literacy Volunteers, which is to provide literacy training to adults with low literacy skills including to adults for whom English is a second language.

Alyssa made over 200 cookies and raised $260 for Literacy Volunteers.

“I wanted to do more for the community,” she said.

It is fair to say that members of the organization were astonished by Alyssa’s initiative and grateful for the donation.

Ranked tenth in her class of 128, Alyssa has been enrolled in the 3-1-3 program at SUNY Fredonia and by graduation from high school will have 18 college credits. She is a member of the National Honor Society. She plans to pursue a pre-medicine course when she enters college this fall. At this point, she plans to become a pathologist.

Her other passion is sailing. Her grandpa is a sailor and at the age of 8, she went to a learn-to-sail camp. She sailed on Lake Ontario at Sodus Bay and has been sailing ever since. Currently she sails at the Buffalo Yacht club as a representative of Fredonia High School. She’d love to sail in the America’s Cup representing the United States.

Alyssa is the daughter of Wendy Patterson of Fredonia and Todd Vianese of Cherry Creek.

21 East Bookstore is open for regular business hours from Thursday through Saturday. between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. at 21 East 2nd Street in Dunkirk. The entrance is located on Washington Avenue. Monthly super sales are held. The next super sale is set for Feb. 1. Most hardcovers are sold for $1 and paperbacks for 50 cents.

Comments on this article may be directed to dchodan@observertoday.com