For Brian Hyska, a junior at Detroit Country Day School, an end-of-the-day activity includes reflecting on his thoughts and actions and how they impacted the day.
It’s not the only unique quality about 16-year-old Brian, who lives in Rochester Hills. He’s also taken the experience of seeing a close family friend diagnosed with lung disease due to radon exposure and created an opportunity to help larger numbers of people.
“I thought, I can either be sad forever or I can do something to help people,” he said. “I want to help as many people as possible.”
To that end, Brian has created Better Health Environmental, a radon and mold detection company that can detect the presence of these toxic elements in a home. What’s more, Brian is contributing half of his company’s proceeds back to Detroit Country Day School for its Annual Fund, which supports general operating expenses.
So far, Brian has served four clients since he launched his company in mid-January. He spends about four to five hours per week with his business. His donations to DCDS have totaled approximately $600 so far.
Tina Mangalick, Director of Philanthropy at DCDS said she was shocked by the donation.
“I’ve been here for two years and I’ve never seen a student make a donation like this,” she said. “Brian is really passionate about his company. It’s really nice to see that in a student.”
Brian purchased his radon and mold detection equipment from a company that analyzes the data he collects and makes recommendations as to what a homeowner can do if radon or mold is higher than what is healthy.
Radon is an invisible, scentless, tasteless, radioactive gas that can be present in a home due to the breakdown of radium beneath the home. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers.
The EPA suggests taking action to reduce contamination levels once they reach 4 pCi/L (148 Bq/m3). Brian tested his own home and it came back as 5.2 pCi/L.
Homes also may contain toxic levels of mold, which can affect those with compromised immune systems and people taking medicines that suppress the immune system.
Brian, who has been at Detroit Country Day for two years, said the school has made a dramatic difference in his life.
“This school has helped me exponentially,” he said. “It’s raised my standards of ethics and it has completely changed with work ethic. I work hard every day.”
Brian said he’s glad to donate part of his sales to his school. He retains enough proceeds to cover his business costs; plans to donate other portions to charitable organizations; and invests the rest in environmental stocks.
“I don’t think I could use the money for myself,” he said. “What makes me happy is helping people. I’m not materialistic.”
He said that part of his entrepreneurial spirit comes from his parents, Mentor and Juliana, who came to America from Albania before Brian was born. His parents owned several successful businesses in Albania and now own SERVPRO franchises, which do clean-up and restoration work.
“They knew I would have greater opportunities in America,” Brian said. “I feel like I should take advantage of these opportunities. The only way to improve is at the end of the day, you have to analyze the day and ask yourself, ‘what did I do right and what did I do wrong?’”