"A Scholarship of Love"
by Mila Glodava
"A scholarship of love." That was the headline in today's Second A Section of The Denver Post. The article was about, Berry White, a law student who created an endowment fund at the University of Denver for future prosecutors in memory of his sister who died at the age of 21 because of drug overdose.
What struck me about this article was that despite the tragic event, Berry White still has the presence of mind to pull something good from his family's tragedy. Berry's endowment fund, which an official thought was overly ambitious, is a tribute to his sister, a beauty queen who wanted to help people get off drugs, but herself sucked into the world of drugs. To date he has raised $25,000 of the $50,000 minimum to create an endowment fund at the university.
This story reminded of other equally inspiring stories. One was that of a laundry woman, an 89-year-old African American, who also made the headlines when she gave $150,000 to the University of Southern Mississippi for scholarships. Another, a librarian in a college on the Western Slopes of Colorado gave a million dollars to her college. Both women lived very frugal lives, saved from their limited income , invested their money wisely and now are sharing the fruits of their investments to benefit others.
These are indeed touching stories of ordinary people with ordinary means, yet who believe in the value of education and its benefit to beneficiaries of the endowments.
Filipinos, too, value education, so much so that it is every Filipino's dream to earn a college degree and more. Families sacrifice to give children and siblings the opportunity for higher education. Indeed we receive high marks for taking care of our own. Filipinos do believe in the adage that "Charity begins at home."
There is something to be said, however, when we also give opportunities to others outside of the family. Many articles and essays have been written about parents who sacrifice everything to send their children to school. My own parents saved every penny they earned from their two stores in the "palengke" of Infanta to send my brothers and sisters to college. By the time my turn came, there was almost nothing left and they had to sell everything to start a boarding house in Manila.
Then came to the rescue, Fr. Cayetano Serafines who suggested without my knowledge to the newly installed Bishop of the Prelature of Infanta, Bishop Julio Labayen, to find a scholarship for me. At the time I was working as Fr. Serafines' secretary in Burdeos. To my surprise, Fr. Serafines told me to go to St. Paul College of Manila and take the admission test there for a full scholarship. If I pass I also would work for my board and lodging and be an "interna." And the rest as they say is history.
I am very grateful to Fr. Serafines and Bishop Labayen for giving me that opportunity to go to St. Paul's. Had the bishop chosen to give scholarships only to his relatives, I would not be where I am today. Bishop Labayen's generosity to someone he hardly knew was an inspiration for me to reach out to others I do not know, and not just my relatives. The ripple effects of his benevolence to me are countless.
The moral of the story: Do not limit your outreach to members of your family! Reach out and help others you many not know, and experience the ripple effects of your generosity. All of our scholars are required to implement some project that benefits the community.
You too can give give others an opportunity to go to school, and at the same time pay tribute to a loved one. Why wait until a tragedy strikes before doing something similar to Berry White's incredible tribute. Metro Infanta Foundation can be your vehicle to pay tribute to your loved ones. An Endowment Fund the likes of Berry Whites's would be nice if you have been blessed, but it doesn't have to be that huge. One hundred dollars can send a student to a year of high school at Mt. Carmel (those in public schools have free tuition), and $400 can get them to graduate. Or you might want to send a deserving student to college with just $300 per year at the Northern Quezon Cooperative College.
Perhaps someone is celebrating a birthday or an anniversary. Instead of spending for a gift that they really don't need, why not make a donation to Metro Infanta Foundation in their honor and give someone who is not a relative a scholarship? I have often encouraged my children to do this for me on my birthday or for Mother's Day, because I don't need any more than what I have right now. What a valuable lesson it is for them. Their gift goes to a good cause and they learn the value of giving out of love.