Sometimes, the world may seem vanquished by evil. But then humanity sheds its light to prove that good in this world exists. Goodness thrives in all of us and spreads with contact. The dispersal of charity and compassion, of kindness and love, can be so humble that it is unseen. One student among us exemplifies what it means to humbly, selflessly and fiercely give. His name is Michael Kulick.
Name: Michael Kulick
Hometown: Bear Creek Township, PA
Major: Business Management and Entrepreneurship, Minor in History
Favorite Starbucks Drink: Carmel Macchiato, Upside Down with Skim OR Iced Toffee Nut Coffee with Skim (depends on the season.)
Favorite Restaurant: Savory Maza
HC: How did you come to know what service is?
MK: As a kid, I was always told that I was a “nice kid.” There wasn’t a time when someone said, “do this because it’s good.” It kind of came naturally, and I don’t mean to sound arrogant. I enjoy doing good things for other people. I like seeing people smile. I had a rough childhood, so seeing people smile helped me realize who I was and what I was here for. Then it really hit in high school.
HC: Yes! I was excited to ask if Scranton Prep had a lot to do with your view of service.
MK: *laughs* Well we all had to do mandatory service in the community. I tried out Seasons of Love at Church of the Good Shepherd. The first day I was there, they put me in the serving line for food, instead of behind the scenes or sorting out clothes to give. That night, a man came up to me and said said “God bless you and thank you for what you’re doing here.” It melted my heart. It broke me apart. It made me realize there are people in this world who won’t have a meal tomorrow or the comfort and security of a roof over their heads.
HC: How exactly was this moment pivotal to your own growth?
MK: On a day to day basis, we don’t consider that what we do for people can impact their lives until we have the opportunity to get out of our own lives and put ourselves in their shoes. That takes a lot of training. It doesn’t come naturally. You can’t just remove yourself from your own life. I’ve been blessed and cursed with a lot of great and bad things. The bad things are also blessings.
HC: Can you talk about how you’ve gotten through “the bad?”
MK: There was a period when I didn’t know where my family would be staying each day for a couple of months, which made us homeless in a way. Eventually we moved in with my grandparents, but I realized what it felt like to not be able to go home and feel safe. It really changes your life when you’ve been given a roof over your head every day or three meals. That is taken for granted. I got a new appreciation for life.
HC: Was there a moment when you realized service is your passion?
MK: It all happened at the same time: the volunteering and the trouble in my personal life collided. They weren’t opposing each other; they were very harmonious. That is where my start began. Right outside my own door I have brothers and sisters, humans on this Earth, who are hurting. I vowed that I would be a difference. Too many people are background characters in our lives. If we realize that not everyone’s a background character, but rather each of us has our own story to tell; we are the main character in our respective lives, then the world becomes less cold and distant. It becomes more so, “I know you, I feel what you feel. I breathe the same air, we both bleed blood. We need compassion. We need love. We owe it to each other. If we don’t have each other, we have nothing.”
HC: Can you recall a specific, memorable time volunteering?
MK: Some days I go in to volunteer and I’m fine, but some days something as insignificant as a stuffed animal gets me. I bought stuffed animals to give to the kids at the shelter. These two little girls picked up two bears, named them Snowball and Snowflake; they were so happy like they just won the lottery. We are so focused on “I don’t have the iPhone 7, I don’t have that bag, I don’t have that watch.” We are so blessed as a country; we have a force for change that could be tapped. Whether it’s holding the door for someone, or going out into the community, or walking the state of Pennsylvania to raise awareness for child abuse.
HC: Do you have any advice for anyone who wants to be a force of change?
MK: When I realized my life is virtually meaningless in a way, I also realized it can have so much meaning and potential. What you are going to do for the person next to you is worth more than what you are going to do for yourself. That is when you understand what true service is. In the grand scheme of things, you’re alright, even when your coffee is cold and your clothes are soaking wet, you have it better than someone else. There is something about being able to say, “I’ve been there and I don’t want you to go through this all alone, or go through it at all,” that changes a person. You have to ask yourself, “What would you have liked to have been different in your life?” What’s driving me is that I always think, “I would’ve wanted someone to do this for me.” The fact that no one did allowed me to break the cycle; to make a difference.
HC: So, besides Seasons of Love, what else are you involved in?
MK: I realized we didn’t have a service club at my high school. The concept of “Magis” means doing more for individuals and yourself. You can do service by donating $5 to charity or you can do service in the form of physically handing out toothbrushes, or giving someone a hug. I launched the service club “Protect” in high school, and we really revolutionized the way kids do service daily. We raised money and did simple things like pumpkin-carving competitions, Seasons of Love, a Zorb Soccer competition! It really got kids involved in a fun way, they wanted to do this and then wanted to do more. It united the school in such a special way. We had teachers’ teams versus students, it was incredible. We ultimately donated all the money among multiple local charities.
HC: Tell me about Fullmetal Neckwear!
MK: Fullmetal Neckwear is what I started because I realized I wasn’t doing anything for our troops. I enjoyed taking live ammunition and turning them into something inactive and harmless, but beautiful. Creating a metamorphosis from something deadly into beautiful and practical. Basically, I make bullet-necklaces and they now benefit certain organizations like USO and Equines for Freedom. I can do what I love and change peoples’ lives. The necklaces are St. Laurent beautiful with price tag of Boscov’s! I just think it’s beautiful to carry something like with you in honor of so many who have sacrificed their time and lives for our freedoms. I created the business plan so that 50 percent of the profit goes to those specific organizations directly helping troops and their families. Eventually, I want to start my own organization that directly helps the brave of our country.
HC: How can someone buy one?
MK: https://www.etsy.com/shop/Fullmetalneckware and soon to be on its own website! There will also be a memorial line: if your family member served in the Armed Forces, and passed away, you can send in a casing from a 21 Gun Salute to be made into a personal necklace to keep their memory alive with you every day. I’m also looking into making bracelets and key chains.
HC: What is unique to you about helping the troops?
MK: Some men and women decide, “My life is worth something more. I can give my own so that other people can have a better life.” I was ready to go to Annapolis or Colorado in the Academy. But, my mom got breast cancer. I made a promise to God that I would change my life direction if He kept her in my life. Her results came back clean, I kept my promise with God and decided not to go away, for her.
HC: Is it true that your Fullmetal Neckwear was featured in New York fashion week?!?!
MK: Yes, it was crazy actually. My mom’s friend knows a few designers and one fell in love with necklaces. Dario Mohr featured the pieces in his show and he was so kind and so cool.
HC: Were you apprehensive at all about starting this?
MK: Regardless of what other people say, and what rationality might say, you aren’t going to know unless you actually try. Abraham Lincoln ran for office and failed, Oprah was discriminated against in the beginning but kept working her way up. When you hear success stories you think it can’t be you. Some people will say you’ll fail, but when you get to that fork in the road and you can either kill your dream in its tracks or take the long, difficult path, the choice you make differentiates you from the next person. I’ve found that the road less travelled has less traffic and lets me leave my distinct mark on Earth. When you realize you’re worth something, you do more. When you do more, you help the world a little bit more.
HC: What goes into creating a club or a charity?
MK: I had to go to meetings, make proposals, make drafts and prove that financially and feasibly everything will work out. But I loved hosting my own events rather than following in sync with everyone else (not a great band but don’t put that in there.) I learned diplomacy by serving others, too. People are prone to take the easy way out when it comes to a challenge.
HC: What do you want people everywhere to know?
MK: We are all on the same page, we all feel some degree of insecurity but we all have a degree of self worth. YOU are worth my time. Mr. Jackson put it best when he said, “If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make that change.” Our time at best is 100 years, at worst tomorrow. You can’t love other people until you love yourself. When you yap into love, your life changes. Different than the love from Agape or Eros, if you can love a stranger like your own family or yourself, then you have a purpose and meaning, which is what we all seek for and very few of us find. Some people’s meaning in life is making incredible food, running hotels, walking dogs, doing equations! Whatever sets your heart on fire, do it.