Seven years ago, Ronn Lonon delivered his first UPS package to Sugarland Elementary School. It changed his life.
Soon, Lonon began mentoring a Sugarland Elementary School fifth-grader.
“Once you help one little guy, you can’t turn the others away,” Lonon said. “Kids would say ‘Mr. Ronn, will you read to me?’ ‘I’m next.’”
Now, Lonon can be found in his brown UPS uniform combing the halls, socializing in the cafeteria and on the basketball court playing with students. A purple and white name tag dangles from his neck that reads “Mr. Ronn.”
LONON grew up with three brothers and three sisters.
“All I know how to be is a big brother,” he said.
Growing up, Lonon looked up to his father and uncles. When he made a mistake or got in trouble, Lonon said they were there to guide him in the right direction.
“Now it’s pay back,” he said. “It’s just easy. It’s a reflex. If you give, it always comes back to you.”
Sugarland Elementary School principal Jennifer Ostrowski said Lonon is dedicated to Sugarland students, even though the elementary school is no longer on his route.
Lonon visits Sugarland Elementary School on his lunch breaks and vacation days.
“I try to come once in the beginning of the week and once at the end of the week,” he said.
Lonon schedules doctor’s appointments in the afternoons, so he can visit with students during the day.
“All I have to do is show up,” he said. “We read, play basketball, just hang out.”
Lonon is currently mentoring a third-grader who “needs a little extra help,” Ostrowski said. “Mr. Ronn talks to him, tells him why school is important.”
LONON not only participates in Sugarland’s mentoring program, but invents new projects to benefit students, like the Read to Me program.
Lonon created the program four years ago to encourage students to read. He asked UPS to fund the program to provide incentives for student participants.
This year, first- through fifth-grade students read more than 25,000 books. They were rewarded with a pizza party.
Fifth-grade student Sourabh Cheedella read 50 books over two months as part of the Read To Me program.
“Mr. Ronn encourages us,” Sourabh said. “He is kind and likes kids.”
In 2005, Lonon initiated fund-raising efforts to build a new playground for Sugarland Elementary School students. Now, a new purple and teal playground sits behind the school.
“I can’t pick a favorite project, but I’m really proud of that,” he said.
Sugarland Elementary School dedicated the playground to “Mr. Ronn.”
“I’m a product of everybody who helped me along the way,” Lonon said. “But I’ve always been an individual."
LAST WEEK, NBC Nightly News followed Lonon through the halls of Sugarland Elementary Schools. The network chose to recognize Lonon as an outstanding volunteer in his community. Lonon not only delivers packages to homes, but provides Loudoun County students with a role model.
"The kids just love him," Ostrowski said.