NEW YORK - Instead of playing the latest video games or binging a new series like some teenagers, Ryan Jonas learned to crochet.
"There's a store near where I live that has lots of yarn and one day I walked in and they were teaching people how to crochet and that sparked my interest so I sat down and they taught me how to crochet and I really enjoyed it! I was there for a few hours," Jonas recalled.
Jonas was just 13-years-old at that time. He quickly mastered the craft of crocheting and realized it could be used to help people who need extra income.
"I wanted to help my community and I wanted to find a way to help eradicate poverty in the Bronx," Jonas said.
That's where he got the idea for his non-profit "Bronx Built."
Along with his sister, the Horace Mann High School sophomore created a program to teach others how to crochet and loom.
Once a project is completed - it could be a hat, a scarf, or socks - it's then sold online.
Those who make them get a cut of the profits.
"It's really rewarding to see their faces when they're making a hat and when they finish it because it's very - it just feels like you've completed something when you're doing it and it's really exciting for them and for me to watch," Jonas said.
Jonas partnered with "Lift" an organization that works to break families out of poverty to bring these classes to its members.
All of the raw materials are provided at no cost. Hundreds of items have been made since the program launched three years ago.
Some say it's not just a way to earn a few extra bucks, but also an opportunity to meet new people.
"Usually there is conversation going on, with the other parents, we talk about things going on in the world, our personal lives - so it's like a little meeting group on Tuesdays for us," said Linda Whirl, a member.
Jonas hopes to inspire other young entrepreneurs to follow in his footsteps. He wrote a children's book, "What is Your Impact", with the goal of sharing the value in running and supporting socially-conscious businesses.
"You're never too young to start your own business and to be a social entrepreneur. And I want to empower young individuals to become change-makers in their communities," Jonas said.
So, for creating a stronger community through crocheting, Ryan Jonas is our New Yorker of the Week.