Joshua Soberano is passionate about serving others and has volunteered countless hours over the years. One example from the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic: Joshua organized the Summer of Service initiative through his home parish of St. Matthew in Tyrone, Georgia, near Atlanta. Joshua raised money, identified donors and engaged volunteers in a care package drive for the homeless in Atlanta, a reusable mask-making initiative for local residents who couldn’t afford masks, a parish gardening project to help provide fresh food to area families, and a summer lunch program for local families in need.
“I decided to organize the summer of service in mid-April, as we were still in heavy lockdown in 2020 because I knew that I wanted to help out in service of the community during the difficult COVID times,” said Joshua. “Another big reason for the project was to be able to include my peers and other parishioners to help out in service safely and be involved during lockdown.”
Joshua quickly learned how the experience of giving back during such trying times benefited not only those receiving free masks, fresh vegetables, care packages or free lunches during the summer – it really helped the volunteers make human connections when many people were feeling isolated.
“One of the main parts of the summer lunch program that I volunteered with was the delivery of meals. We would go in groups around the neighborhood and give the meals directly to the kids and their families,” explained Joshua. “The experience in itself was fulfilling and just getting to meet the families, hearing their stories, and sometimes getting to throw the ball for a quick second with the kids was cool. I was able to help them not just by giving them food but by being friendly and spreading joy.”
While he was growing up in Tyrone, Joshua volunteered at Catholic Heart Workcamp and participated in a twice-yearly service project with St. Francis Table to serve those in need. He also led two disaster relief efforts in 2021, one for Hurricane Ida relief for hard-hit parts of Louisiana and the other for those affected by a massive tornado that hit Newnan, Georgia.
For his Eagle Scout Project, Joshua constructed a large chicken coop for the parish garden which houses five to eight chickens. The garden is an outdoor gathering place for the parish and the eggs are given to parishioners in need of food or utilized through the parish’s food service projects. Joshua helped raise more than $2600 and coordinate 35 volunteers to make this project possible.
“The chicken coop is still being used for the same purpose as the project was intended as we still have many chickens continuing to provide eggs to parishioners,” said Joshua. “The project was such a success that the church garden actually decided to expand/add on to my current chicken coop so that the garden could have even more eggs to give away.”
Joshua currently attends Princeton University in New Jersey, majoring in computer engineering. Despite his demanding coursework, he’s continued his commitment to service by volunteering with the Aquinas Institute at Princeton to assist at a local soup kitchen and to help with campus ministry activities the group organizes.
In Scouting, Joshua has served in numerous leadership positions, including Troop Guide, Chaplain, Patrol Leader and Senior Patrol Leader, and he served as crew leader for Florida Sea Base, OA Staff and Council Camp Staff.
The National Catholic Committee on Scouting awarded Joshua the $5,000 Emmett J. Doerr Memorial Scout Scholarship in 2022 for his service to Scouting, his parish, his community and the Church. Joshua sums up the value of service like this:
“Volunteering is one of the best ways to make a positive impact on society and share the love and kindness of the Lord, by forging personal connections with those I am helping and those who I am volunteering alongside.”