From Loss to Legacy

From Loss to Legacy


For the first 12 years of his life, Luke Lynch enjoyed carefree days as the only child in a happy Boca Raton home. But in his thirteenth year, everything turned upside down when his father, James “Jim” Lynch, passed away.

Luke struggled with the sudden loss of someone so integral to his life. “You don’t know why the world did this to you,” he said. Amidst their great loss, his mother Sammy believed the healthiest way to grieve was to be in a place that reminded them of Jim. For the Lynch family, that place was Boca Helping Hands (BHH).

Luke’s father had volunteered in the BHH Food Center for the last two years of his life, serving meals to clients 2-4 times a month. When Luke and Sammy started serving alongside volunteers who had known Jim, their new acquaintances would bubble over with stories of him and his contagious energy. Luke loved hearing all the heartwarming stories about his dad, but he quickly became passionate about volunteering for an entirely different reason. “I had a realization: I could find my purpose and leave a legacy – I could continue my father’s legacy,” he said. “Service allows you to count your blessings. It gives purpose beyond the day-to-day haze that most people go through.”

Inspired by his father’s example, Luke soon found his own identity through civic involvement. In addition to helping out at BHH, he founded a self-sustaining nonprofit at Boca Raton High School: T.R.E.E. Club (Taking Responsibility for the Earth and Environment); served on the Boca Raton City Board Community Advisory Panel during his junior year; hosted inclusive events at school and in the community, and even created a new Boca Town Hall forum to provide a youth perspective in his local government.

After graduating from high school in 2019, Luke continued his new life of service by enrolling in the ROTC Program at American University in Washington, DC. “Whether I volunteer at BHH or fight for my country, it’s the same thing to me.” His motivation for living a selfless life is captured in a favorite quote by Sam Rutigliano: “You cannot live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.” 

Now five years after his father’s death, Luke continues to volunteer at BHH when he’s home from college – and keeps bringing student groups there, where they “fall in love” and walk out with a sense of purpose. “We roll up our sleeves and we just do it, no questions asked. We’re relentless,” he said. While these teenagers could be spending their weekends at the beach or drifting aimlessly on Lake Boca, they choose instead to use their weekends to “create tangible change.” 

Luke recognizes the chain reaction of his involvement – how it all began with his dad’s legacy of service and now spreads to those that Luke recruits to lend a hand. “The story of my life started when I began serving at Boca Helping Hands. That was the first page.”