During all 4 years at BHS, Ben competed on the school’s track team and played cello. In addition to being a student athlete and musician, he also managed to find time to serve as the second President of the Brookline Literacy Partnership, following in the footsteps of founder Sarah Plovnick.

During the summer Ben takes it easy. He only manages to work 5 days a week with medical and agricultural design technologies for third world countries at the MIT Engineering Lab. He works with professors, grad and undergrad students, as well as people who fly in from third world countries to advise the Lab on what is needed. I’ll wait for you to reread that last few sentences before answering your next answer question, yes that is all true.

Believe it or not, that isn’t why Ben was named 2013 Youth of the Year. Bottom line, the world needs more great human beings. Whoever said,” Greatness is hard to define but you know it when you see it” was right. When you’re with Ben you know you are in the presence of a young man who understands abstract thought, carries a passion to do what is right, appreciates those who help him and stands at the ready for those who need him.

Ben has been very active with Brookline Literacy Partnership for some time. The group provides books and tutoring to students of the Mather School in Dorchester, and before that the Emerson School in Roxbury. It was in his capacity as President of the organization that Ben was introduced to the treasure-trove of helping hands in our community. Hoff says of his work with BLF, “That is where my eyes were opened to the generosity of our community. When I first visited the Emerson School, I was embarrassed that I didn’t know kids who lived just 3.7 miles from my house needed our help. The BLF helps students and teachers. When you have people advising you who live in your community, who are willing to help you and are interested in what you are trying to accomplish, it’s so easy to do good work.

Ben is a product of our community. He will attend Rice University next year and your guess is as good as mine where he will be after that. Like our first Youth of the Year, Leslie Suriel and last year’s recipient, Catherine Marris, Ben will be an Ambassador from Brookline. These young people are a product of us; our values and the best of what we have to offer. There are a lot of different directions they can go, but wherever they end up, they will bless those they touch on their journey.

The 2013 Youth Awards will air soon on BATV. Production of a DVD of the evening is also in the works. Take a look and join us next year to experience the spirit of our young people. I promise it will change you just a little.

By R. Harvey Bravman, Publisher