Nicholas Wollweber, a senior here at Oceanside, is in the works to officalize his foundation, The Joseph Paul Wollweber Foundation. Nicholas is working with the Oceanside SAFE Coalition and Mrs. Dowler, a health teacher in the high school, to help spread the word and to help people with drug and alcohol abuse, “which is a pandemic within itself,” Nicholas states. On Friday, March 25, Nicholas set up a fundraiser/ raffle. For one dollar a student could enter their name and win a period to spend with a teacher. These dollar donations quickly became five dollar donations and more. The tickets were put into envelopes with the participating teachers’ names on them, and at the end of the day the tickets were drawn and the winners declared. Nicholas says it’s a way to allow teachers and students to connect, “you can have another resource that you can go to if you’re struggling.”
Nicholas was in 9th grade when his brother passed away in January of 2019. His brother died from a “sudden, unexpected” drug overdose, he said. It totally changed his life forever. Nicholas struggled with depression, anxiety, and PTSD. “Things that made it hard to get up every morning.” he said as he then proceeded to say, “I blocked everyone out, I bottled up all of my feelings.” He stayed away from drugs and alcohol, and is very proud of it. He states, “About a year in, I was having serious suicidal thoughts.” He attempted a couple times, and one time he was about to walk into the middle of Sunrise Highway until he got a phone call. A NO CALLER ID, called his phone and saved his life that day. Nicholas built up the courage to finally talk about his struggles as an early teen. “I saw that I was given a really bad situation and I know myself and I feel like I’m an outgoing person, and I have a duty to tell my brother’s story and my story.” He says, “I need to do it for the people who are staying silent.”
Nicholas is incorporating so much into the Joseph Paul Wollweber Foundation. It started from his brother’s overdose, however now he wants to help those with drug and alcohol abuses. Not just those individuals but their families as well and those who suffer with mental health issues. In fact it could expand beyond that. Nicholas says it is important for people to be able to talk about their problems without being scared. “I hear a lot of people talk about how they’re struggling, and they don’t want to compare to other people because they see how people have had bad experiences, but you don’t need to have bad experiences or tragedies to happen to feel bad mentally.” Nick said. “You can’t compare between one person’s struggles to another.” He said this, and I agree. People should be able to open up without being scared or feeling shame. Unfortunately too many people hold back because they don’t think their issues are significant enough, or they don’t have an underlying tragedy in their life. They feel this diminishes their pain and they don’t feel they can open up about something.
People heal in many different ways. Teens and young adults are maybe hit with it the hardest. We might not know what to do in a situation, such as Nick’s but with the help of teachers, other staff, our peers, our surrounding communities, we can learn and teach ourselves how to overcome things that can be overwhelming. The OHS community and beyond owes a thank you to Nicholas Wollweber for reaching out and doing important work for others.