DAY OF SERVICE SET TO HONOR LOCAL BOY’S WORK IN THE KEYS COMMUNITY

Pascal Weisberger cleans up the mangroves behind a local home as part of a “Reverse Tashlich” hosted by the Keys Jewish Community Center. Weisberger often participated in and conducted coastline cleanups to protect the Keys. TIFFANY DUONG/Keys Weekly

Community members who knew young Pascal Weisberger were well aware of his feverish passion for the environment, his love for animals and his respect for those who served in the military. The 14-year-old’s life, taken too soon in a tragedy in 2020, will be remembered on his birthday, as schools, animal shelters and other groups take to the Upper Keys and beyond to spread love through service. 

Feb. 2 would have marked the former Ocean Studies Charter School and Treasure Village Montessori student’s 16th birthday. To remember the compassionate and intelligent boy, Treasure Village Montessori Principal Kelly Mangel the first Pascal Weisberger Day of Service, in remembrance of all that he embodied while living in the Keys. 

The first day of service took place in the weeks after his death. The second, last year, took place on his birthday.  

“Every year, TVM Seadragons will have a day of service where our students follow our school’s mission — be a good human and kindness matters — by going out into the community and doing deeds of service,” Mangel said. “Our students will be spread throughout the Keys hosting tree plantings, environmental cleanups, beautification projects and animal care projects.”

A moment of silence for Weisberger will kick off the day of service at Treasure Village Montessori’s courtyard. A fun run around Founders Park will then commence for students in prekindergarten through third grade. Students will be divided into classrooms and sent into the community for various projects. 

A bloodmobile will be stationed outside the school for those wishing to donate blood. People are also encouraged to post positive messages and sunset pictures on Facebook using the hashtag Pascal’s way and Seadragons. 

“Pascal was an amazing soul that touched the lives of everyone he met,” Mangel said. “He had an ability to forgive that was beyond his years, a thirst for knowledge and a desire to impact the world around him.”

Ocean Studies Charter School will dedicate its new marine science lab to Pascal on Feb. 2. Classes will also be participating in acts of kindness. For instance, the Dolphins class will collect items for delivery to the Upper Keys Humane Society. 

Weisberger was also a member of Boy Scout Troop 912, which is still led by his father, Ariel Poholek. Last year, a community cleanup in Weisberger’s honor at Harry Harris Park saw some 80 to 100 people coming out to collect 800 pounds of debris. Another cleanup is set for Feb. 2 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. The community is invited to join the shoreline cleanup. 

Poholek said his son’s passion for the environment spanned from lobbying against plastic pollution to monthly cleanups at the park.

“From a pretty young age, we started doing monthly cleanups at Harry Harris as part of a regular program at school,” Poholek said. “Over time he became interested in plastic pollution, and investigating how different things quickly deteriorate and looking at alternatives to plastic.”

Poholek added that his son had intense respect for the country and for veterans. Weisberger took part in flag retirement ceremonies at the Elks Lodge in Tavernier and Labor Day and Memorial Day ceremonies at the Hurricane Monument in Islamorada. 

Pascal also spent a majority of his time helping out at the Upper Keys Humane Society. Poholek said Pascal would be “incredibly honored and touched” with all service efforts by the community in his name. He described his son as a humble kid who’d want people to carry on the mission of issues that were important to him — everything from the environment to animals. 

“It would be pretty mind boggling for him to see so many people honoring him this way,” he said.

Monroe County Commissioner Holly Raschein is putting forth a resolution proclaiming Feb. 2 in Pascal’s honor during the March 16 meeting at the Murray Nelson Government Center in Key Largo. With the February meeting held in Key West, Raschein said she wants to give Pascal’s friends and family the opportunity to be in attendance for the special proclamation. 

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Jim McCarthy is a Western New Yorkers who escaped the snow and frigid temperatures for warm living by the water. A former crime & court reporter and city editor for two Western New York newspapers, Jim has been honing his craft since he graduated from St. Bonaventure University in 2014. In his 3-plus years in the Keys, Jim has enjoyed connecting with the community. “One of my college professors would always preach to be curious,” he said. “Behind every person is a story that’s unique to them, and one worth telling. As writers, we are the ones who paint the pictures in the readers minds of the emotions, the struggles and the triumphs.” Jim is past president of the Key Largo Sunset Rotary Club, which is composed of energetic members who serve the community’s youth and older populations. Jim is a sports fanatic who loves to watch football, mixed martial arts and golf. He loves to hit the links and play some softball with his Make A Play team. He also enjoys time with family (he's expecting a little boy in October).