Ryan De Kruif is an 18-year-old high school graduate from Littleton, CO who has contributed thousands of hours to his community through a variety of volunteer services.
In middle school, he and his family read to and encouraged children to improve their reading skills at the Sun Valley Church. This church is located in central Denver where there are underprivileged families who cannot afford individual tutoring. He did this weekly for a couple hours during his summer vacations.
When Ryan entered high school, he continued to volunteer. Along with his high school church youth group, Ryan babysat for children of the homeless at the shelter, Samaritan House, one Wednesday evening each month during his freshman year. Through Brother Redevelopment, Ryan participated in three full days of painting the homes of those in need, and during May 1998, he ran the successful project of painting Sun Valley Mission Church. On a mission trip to Mexico during summer 1996, Ryan and four other teens worked for a week putting a new roof on a home.
In 1997, as a member of Key Club, a service-oriented school organization, and the National Honor Society, he participated in a canned food collection effort on Halloween, and a Christmas food drive. Ryan also made Christmas cards and valentines that were delivered to nursing homes and hospitals. During spring 1998, he helped organize Littleton High School's annual Blood Drive, sponsored by the National Honor Society.
From 1994 to 1997, Ryan was active in the Arapahoe Rescue Patrol (ARP), a voluntary youth-run emergency response, search and rescue team. ARP actively aids firefighters and police in emergency situations by providing security detail, traffic control and evidence search. However, the primary duty of ARP volunteers is urban and mountain search and rescue for missing and injured people. During his time with the program Ryan contributed more than 2,000 hours to the program in training, administrating and responding to emergency calls and served as one of the top three student command staff who ran the ARP.
From August 1997 through March 1998, Ryan trained a guide dog through Have Paws Will Travel, a 4-H Guide Dog Puppy Club. This organization is dedicated to raising and training dogs to "give greater freedom" to blind people. He asked and received permission from his teachers and high school administration to allow the dog to spend one or two days a week at school for training and for expanding student and staff awareness of this program. Toward the end of March, he was awarded a new puppy to train. Ryan has given numerous presentations to various schools and civic groups to raise community awareness and expand the program. Starting August 3, 1998, he will be interning with Guide Dog for the Blind, Inc.'s training department. As their top candidate, he was allowed to intern with the department of his choice.