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Please help. Registration's MAY-JUNE 2014

Please help. Your $10 monthly allotment goes a long way to help a bright kid from a poor family finish high school.

Thank you for browsing our site. May we count on your help?

A bright child from a poor family wants to finish high school but cannot because they have no money. Wouldn’t it be a crime to do nothing and allow this bright child’s mind to languish and go to waste?

Please consider donating $10 dollars by opening a monthly allotment… easier on your budgeting.

If you like, you can also write your check to the Scholarship Fund and send it to:

SAS Ai Treasurer
43096 Branower St.
Ashton, VA 20147

 Thank you.

Going Into Orbit Decay


teouched heart

If you feel a hollow in your heart, it is there waiting to be filled, with deeds of goodness toward others and God’s presence.

We joined family friends for Mothers Day celebration yesterday after Church Services.

The sumptuous meal lasted all afternoon, complimented by the fine company and the cozy surroundings. Lively conversations, G-rated family jokes, horseshoe toss, game of billiards, and sinful desserts with fine wine to close the luncheon.

On the way home my wife and I talked about the celebration. What she had to say saddened me. It seems that one of the younger kids was going through a bout with depression – imagined or real I didn’t know. My wife recalled the conversation she had with Sensia, a 24-year-old college graduate.

“I hate my job,” she confided to my wife. “My co-workers are happy and satisfied with mediocrity. I have to work late to mop up their mistakes.”

“Did you talk to management?” my wife countered.

“It’s no use,” Sensia said with a deep sigh. “The supervisor just told me to deal with it. Upper management remains oblivious.”

“Hmmm. Sounds like a not-so-good place to work,” volunteered my wife. “But you know, you should focus on things you can control, like – your own duties and tasks. Do them well. Be the best at it. Soon you will become the resource person.”

Sensia turned quiet. She toyed with her food. Her plate didn’t have much of anything. Just a couple of stuffed celery stalks, capers and a sliver of smoked salmon.

“Is that all you’re eating?” my wife tried to bring Sensia back into the conversation.

“I am not a happy camper,” Sensia finally declared. “My latest boy friend and I broke up after only a couple of weeks. Well, he wasn’t worth it anyway. All he wanted to do was play with his smart phone. I lost my lease to my apartment. I moved in with my Mom and I have to gas up once every two days. I’m spending all my savings on gas. I have no appetite and can’t sleep. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I blame Mom for not helping me keep up my lease. She wanted me to move in with her.” Sensia sniffled. “I’m depressed just thinking about what to do next – but I can’t stay with my mother. The whole world is collapsing all around me.”

I knew my wife felt sympathy for Sensia. So young and alone at sea it seemed. She asked me, “What do you think? What would you do?”

Keeping my eyes on the road I managed to answer, “Well, maybe Sensia needs to hit bottom to rise. That’s the way of the world. Reality seeps in – it’s a bitter pill to swallow, you know, take the good with the bad. Just keep on trucking.”

I knew Sensia since she was in grade school. She always had everything handed to her by her parents. She also tends to be a bit dramatic and goes into histrionics at the drop of a pin. After her parents divorced, her mother became more doting. Too much of a good thing isn’t good, no matter what it is.

We paused for a moment and prayed for Sensia’s deliverance.

Things were going great and then. . .


After her husband died, she suffered a severe stroke

After her husband died, she suffered a severe stroke sending everything into a tailspin

In pursuing our mission to help bright kids from poor families finish high school, we come across many special applications or requests for financial aid. One such request came across our desk for consideration earlier this year. We can relate to this story. All of us are just one paycheck away from being homeless.

Maria, (we changed the names to keep the privacy of the parties involved) and her husband Taliofero operated a small cafe-diner. The place was no bigger than four office cubicles joined together, furnished with four tables with four chairs each. The simple menu included many local dishes affordably priced and targeted toward a clientage composed of the local government workers, school faculty and staff and a few students from wealthier families, who carry sizable lunch money allowance. Bottom line, business was booming. Maria was able to send her daughter Donna to private high school.

Then the unimaginable happened. Taliofero had a massive heart attack while cooking a batch of Dinuguan (a local blood pudding delicacy with pork innards). Their sense of loss and grief exponentially doubled as Maria suffered a stroke soon after they buried Taliofero. Utterly devastated, the family began to sell some of their belongings, jewelry and home furnishings to help run the business and to survive. Although it was touching and inspiring to see Maria and Donna try everything to mitigate the ravages of physical handicap and erosion of morale, the situation was nevertheless a portrait of raw despondency and frustration. Creditors repossessed their home. They moved back to Maria’s mother’s house.

Donna was going into her last year of high school. She had been an honor student all three years earlier and actively involved in the school paper as assistant editor. Donna’s bright and shows tremendous potential. But now, out of money and essentially broke, she faces transferring to the public high school. They applied for financial aid so Donna can graduate at the same high school wherein she started.

Our committee didn’t take long to decide. Donna will graduate this year from St Augustine’s School.

 

Graduation: Personal Labor Comes to Fruition


SAS Ai Class 2014

SAS Ai Class 2014

Our volunteers who run the everyday business of the SAS Ai financial aid program experienced their labor’s just reward at the graduation ceremonies of our first 2014 class of scholars. They remembered a group of kids, some shy and timid, who joined us in the program last 2009-2010. They were no more than young, tender saplings, newly graduated from intermediate school, filled with dreams and high expectations. They enthusiastically dove in, head first into the school year.

We all remembered the times when some of them faltered, slowed down by the dizzying array and sheer volume of high school work. Pop quizzes, periodic tests, quizzes, exams and research assignments, writing projects, athletic intramural sporting events, and vocational shop classes all added to the burden. But true to their promise they slugged it out and prevailed making all of us so proud. Four of them placed in the honor roll with one finishing as the class salutatorian. At the graduation reception, they stood beaming with pride along with their parents, teachers and mentors. Amid the flurry of activity from the paparazzi, they all thanked our donors and program supporters.

“We thank you all, our dear benefactors, donors, and sponsors.
Without your generous help we couldn’t have finished high school.
God bless you, your family, your health and your work.”

A few members of the Board of Trustees based abroad made it to the Philippines during the graduation ceremony. Joining in the celebration they saw how our newly graduated scholars extended their gratitude and appreciation as they spoke with all the dignitaries and guests. Talk about some happy campers. Our scholars looked so grown up. Where has the time gone? With smiles and grins and small conversations later, our volunteers, donors and supporters all agreed: “It was all worth it – all that sacrifice and labor.”

And so it is.

Baby’s Breath


Plain and uncomplicated but stunning in their lace-like simplicity

Plain and uncomplicated but stunning in their lace-like simplicity

In the field grew all kinds of plants – no particular organization, just plants randomly taking root and thriving, reaching for the sky. Some more established plants stood tall above the tangle of weeds and grass, their flowers dominant under the bright sunlight. How beautiful a sight to behold. Purple, orange, pumpkin, bright yellows, oyster shell white, hot white, even lavender and of course red – myriad of colors. I stood there transfixed soaking in the view, breathing in the subtle perfume and sweet scents wafting all around me.

Cropping up in bulges like a rooster’s comb, out to my far right at the edge of an irrigation ditch or water splash culvert, several layers of tiny flowering plants grew in profusion. The plants themselves were not showy at all. They looked rather plain and common – much like weeds, saw grass and dandelion. In the breeze their spindly branches danced. Their tiny flowers sprouting at the end of long stems looked like tiny popcorn bursts, or white buttons and even tiny white daisies. But upon closer scrutiny the flowers were actually very dainty and fragile like snowflakes.

What’s so special about Baby’s Breath? These plants are definitely related to the dandelions and buttercups – lowly ground creepers largely ignored by nursery growers. Bunched up in a bouquet by themselves, they would look like some white duster contraption – or even maybe a witches’ fly swatter. Yet when tiny Baby’s Breath blossoms surround long-stemmed red roses, the roses seem more prominent – almost ostentatious in their red velvety petals becoming deeper red still.

Such is the way our organization works. We are a non-profit manned and operated by unpaid volunteers – each doing their specialty, keeping the organization humming like a well oiled engine. We have our executive officers – I suppose they would be the long-stemmed regal roses, or exotic blossoms and orchids. And all around them are the support folks – the baby’s breath blossoms in a bouquet, simple, uncomplicated – or the many volunteer workers in the background dedicated to making things work. Ultimately all members of the organization as in a bouquet – be they roses, orchids, ferns, baby’s breath, squash flowers or plain ever green leaves – help our group achieve its mission and vision.

A Determined Spirit


Rose Ann's family kitchen

Rose Ann’s family kitchen

“Mom, can I stay home today and work on my math assignment? I am behind.” Rose Ann sounded worried. As a family they planned to harvest the corn the whole day. It was just her and her parents.

“Rose sweetheart,” her mother softly replied, “you have to do what you have to do. School’s very important and your father and I will manage.”

Rose’s parents, Mr and Mrs Fajardo want Rose Ann to keep up her good grades so that she can keep her scholarship. Like most folks in the village, the Fajardo’s live by the “scratch and peck,” system of daily survival. Their field’s planted all year round with cash crops like corn, mung beans, sugar beets, and rice. Tenant farming puts food on the table but not much else. The Fajardo ladies don’t buy fabric from which to sew dresses; they use softened flour sackcloth or empty rice sacks. The little money saved from produce sales goes to the livestock feed and fertilizer. For this reason Rose Ann applied for financial aid to finish high school.

Mature for her age, Rose Ann performed well in elementary school maintaining a grade point average of 89%. Shy, introverted and demure, her classmates make fun of her timidity – all in jest – no malice. Members of our Field Team counsel and coach her to open up, be vocal specially during classroom discussions. “Ask the teacher questions. Don’t be afraid of ridicule,” they strongly suggest. “Class participation is critical, and if you don’t speak up, you won’t get any answers,” they would continue. For her part, Rose Ann gave opening up a good try. She is getting better each day and the Field Team makes it a point to recognize her improvement during scheduled meetings.

Rose Ann wants to finish high school and go on to higher learning. With her indomitable spirit and self-confidence we are hopeful of her future. We are proud to help her attend high school. On behalf of Rose Ann and on behalf of all our scholars, we thank you our benefactors. Without your generous help and donations, we would not be able to conduct our mission.

 

Dogs Don’t Chase Parked Cars


Dogs Chasing Moving Truck

Dogs Chasing Moving Truck

“Dogs don’t chase parked cars,” my father was fond of saying. It seemed as if it was his “Ultimate Windex” canned response to all dirt, grime and slime problems submitted to him for clean up consideration.

I remember telling my father about a problem I had with another high school paper staff writer. Every day this boy would scream and yell at me, “You don’t know how to write! You can’t write. You have no idea what you are doing! What are you doing here?”

“Sheeessh…” I thought. He could at least show me where I was falling short, help me correct my mistakes, or how I can improve my style – whatever. Not this constant ridicule, personal attacks and public humiliation. But no such luck. The harassment went on. I said nothing to the Principal or home room teacher about the boy and his hostile actions. I let his juvenile outbursts slide.

The editor in chief, a teacher assigned to head the paper, would intervene and get in between me and the bully – if she were there present in the room. There were times it would be just me and the agitator in the room and I would suffer much from his bellicose attitude and taunts. I’d bite my lip so hard my inner mouth lining bled or formed packets of blood clots. I didn’t want to fight the boy. Honest. I wasn’t afraid of him. I dreaded suspension and shaming my parents in front of the priests and nuns who ran the school.

Talking to my father and pouring out my troubles gave me a sense of calm. “Dogs don’t chase parked cars,” he said it again. “You’re doing something right for that paper… you’re on the move,” he continued. “Why else would this boy act so agitated toward you? Almost seems as if he wants you out of there. Too much competition maybe?”

My father’s words sank in, percolated, and like cream rose to the surface. I took my cue and thought to myself. “If I were a car, why would this dog be chasing me?” A window burst open in my mind and streaming sunshine came pouring in. “Of course! If I were a car… hey, I am not a parked car. You know? I am moving!” I laughed and hugged my father. “Thank you Sir…” I managed to blurt out as I ran out to the yard.

Monday morning. The editor called me in to her office. “You’ve got the interview with the President of the University. I am assigning it to you because you’ve earned it. You write more like a journalist as opposed to a comic book writer.” She looked refreshed, glad and ready for the week. “Here…” she held out an envelope and motioned for me to take it.

I gasped as I regained my breath. Good grief. I didn’t even realize I had stopped breathing. “I… I… thanks Ms David. When is the President coming to visit?” I asked as I stepped closer to her desk.

“Here’s the assignment packet.” She handed me a brown envelope. “All the information is in there. Familiarize yourself with the dates, times, venues, and talk with his personal secretary to schedule the interview. You might as well do the whole kit and caboodle.” Ms David seemed pleased with her decision.

It was a moment to celebrate… It felt good to be recognized for one’s own work ethic and performance. Indeed, dogs don’t chase parked cars.

“Work for Food”


Why...

Why…

The man stood by the crossing holding a cardboard sign that read:  “Work for food.” I wondered how long he had stood there in the oppressive heat with nothing to cover his balding head. By his feet lay a plastic shopping bag, a back-up sign, and what looked like a tarp from some military surplus store, heaped with all his meager belongings.

I began to wonder as I drove away if he would eat that day. Would a concerned soul offer him a job or a meal; it was getting late in the afternoon. I tried to catch a parting glimpse of him via the rear-view mirror. I thought to myself, “Was he homeless perhaps? Or maybe just an itinerant wanderer?” I didn’t know what to think. But I’ve always been one to lean toward the right – that if I have to wash dishes, flip burgers or dig ditches to eat I would. It bothered me to think about how could such a man allow himself to descend into the pits so that he has to beg for food?

I know I am judging and I shouldn’t. Forgive me. There are a myriad reasons why we do the things we do. For all I know he could be an undercover agent on a stake out. Or a man stepping out to avoid being sequestered at home with his nagging wife. Who knows? And here I am playing “here come the judge…”.

I arrived at the grocery store, bought the items on my shopping list and on the way out stopped at the store’s food counter. “A double cheeseburger, fries, large soda to go please.” I retraced the same route home. Yup there he was, sign in hand, still hoping, still waiting. Pulling over to the side where he stood I turned on my emergency signal as I stepped out of my vehicle to approach him. A surprised look formed on his face. He probably expected me to offer him a job. I handed him the bag of food. “Just a little something… hope it helps.”

Reaching for the bag, he looked into my eyes momentarily. I saw his eyes grow misty. They glistened in the afternoon sun. He took hold of the bag and with a parched voice he said, “May God bless you brother. Thank you.” I wept all the way home. I know the statistic: We are only one paycheck away from being homeless.