Help Wanted


helpwantedSubtleI have seen that “Help Wanted” sign tucked in on window pane corners, behind glass doors, on menu boards and on mall bulletin boards and store fronts. Once I inquired inside a pet store posting a Help Wanted sign. But after I was immediately met, literally face-to-face, by a Gigantor Great Dane, I turned around and walked out.

We have had our Help Wanted sign posted on our Facebook page, BLOG page, on our official websites for all the world and fellow SAS alumni to see. We haven’t had many replies, not even inquiries out of pure curiosity. Our plea for help is largely being ignored.helpwantedCustomers

What could we be doing wrong? How can we improve our signage? Our message?

Could it be that our sign doesn’t communicate exactly what we need? (Photo at right courtesy of The Huffington Post)

We need help in raising awareness of our mission to help bright kids who come from poor families get a high school education through financial aid.

We need help raising donations for and contributions to the scholarship fund. Our only source of help comes from your generosity. Please… we need your help.

SAS Ai Scholarship Program – How it Works


"It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness."

“It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.”

Like the word “love,” the term “scholarship” has undergone many a metamorphosis. Take love first. When people mean to say they “like” mangoes, they rather exuberantly blurt out, “I love mangoes”. The same with scholarships. Even though the student recipient of the financial aid does not do well academically or at a scholarly level, that some group finances his or her studies makes the aid-recipient a scholar. Many groups profess to do good works, even charitable works, such as, giving aid to student recipients for a myriad reasons – all mind-boggling just the same. The announcement clamor and din is deafening.

The SAS Ai scholarship program stands high and above this loose amalgamation of “handout” programs masquerading as scholarships, as the gold standard scholarship program to help bright students who come from poor families get a good high school education at SAS through financial aid.

The program uses this twofold criteria with no strings attached:

  1. The student applicant must come from a disadvantaged family with a gross annual income of less than P50,000, or $1167 USD depending on the exchange rate
  2. The student applicant must have a grade point average (GPA) of 85% or better

And here is where the SAS Ai scholarship program leaves the rest of the pack huffing and puffing in the dust. SAS Ai offers the most generous package ever. For every sponsored scholar, the annual financial aid pays for:

  • Tuition – matriculation costs
  • Books, reference materials and publications
  • School uniforms – Skirts and blouses for the young ladies and a pair of pants and T-Shirts for the young men
  • Pair of shoes and socks – patent leather shoes for the young ladies and a pair of rubber shoes for the young men
  • Athletic wear for PE and intramural sports – (the scholar’s family pays for special uniforms for volleyball and/or basketball teams)
  • School supplies – stationery, writing tools, notebooks, sewing kit, crayon kits, paper
  • Computer Lab fees, family fees, miscellaneous fees
  • Internet Cafe fees for online research and eMail services
  • A USB storage device for every scholar to store computer school work

Refinements of the SAS Ai program that sets it far and apart from the “random acts of kindness” dubbed as scholarships:

  • If accepted to the program after a battery of pre-tests, interviews, home visits to establish need, parental guarantee of coöperation, scholars are held accountable for maintaining their grade point average to 85% or higher.
  • The local SAS Ai Field Team headed by Director Albert D Bunoan stays on top of all scholars:
    • taking care of their school supply needs,
    • looking after their personal safety and welfare
    • disseminating pertinent information from corporate.
    • The Field Team also regularly files update reports to the board of trustees (BOT) on periodic exam results, and on status of scholar’s school work and attendance.
  • If accepted to the program, all scholars are held to a high standard of personal behavior, active community involvement, and exemplary social, spiritual, and emotional development.
  • If accepted to the program, all scholars must acquire skills in the use of current technologies to electronically communicate and to develop a good oral and written command of the English language used in business communications.
  • We recruit prospective applicants from all over the public school system, in Tagudin, Santa Cruz, Sudipen and Bangar, La Union, Suyo, keeping the competitiveness for acceptance tight and keen
  • When recruiting prospective applicants we look for inner-drive and reason, maturity and a dire financial need with no strings attached. More specifically, SAS Ai does not expect or need everlasting loyalty, allegiance and/or payment in kind from the families of accepted scholars.

If you know of anyone – a family in need who may want to send their bright and highly motivated child to attend SAS high school, please let us know. Click on this link to find out more about SAS Ai, Inc. and how to make a tax-deductible donation to support the scholarship fund. We solely rely on our generous donors and mission supporters to send these bright scholars to Saint Augustine School.

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Joyful Realization


poor

The Family of one SAS Ai scholar

Three years ago, our field Team spoke with this family about their eldest daughter who was about to finish elementary school and graduate sixth grade class Salutatorian.

Field Team Leader Albert Bunoan began the conversation, “Mr and Mrs Sotero, we are here because your daughter Soledad expressed interest in applying for financial aid to attend SAS high school.”

“Who are you?” Mr Sotero sounded skeptical. “Why would Soledad want to attend SAS high school? All her friends are in public school.” Mr Sotero seemed bothered about something. His wife Calixta was fixing sweet potato stew in the kitchen. She listened intently even as she stirred the pot.

Mr Bunoan smiled and calmly explained to Mr Sotero about the SAS Ai scholarship program. “SAS is the premier private school in the province. It would certainly be to Soledad’s advantage to attend high school there. The faculty is very capable and the facilities are up to date. Soledad can apply her smarts and learn a lot from what SAS has to offer.”

“Isn’t that school only for the rich?” asked Mrs Sotero finally getting into the conversation. “One of my aunts attended that school and graduated in the late forties. Yes it is a great school.”

Mr Sotero chimed in, “So are you going to pay for Soledad’s tuition? How about her books and lab fees?”

Mr Bunoan showed the Sotero’s the SAS Ai program documentation. “Mr and Mrs Sotero, we will take care of Soledad’s registration, books, school uniforms, shoes, socks, school supplies but you will have to take care of her lunches and transportation.”

“How you doing that? You got money or something?” Grandma spoke her broken English. She was rocking the cradle in the other room. “You taking my Soledad and keeping her in dormitory? She needed here helping with the field and pasture.”

“Grandma Sotero, no, we are not taking Soledad and putting her in a dormitory. We are enrolling her to attend high school at SAS,” Albert said with a smile.

That was three years ago. This year Soledad will begin her fourth and senior year of high school. She has done well, staying in the honor roll after each year. She expects to graduate with high honors.

At the annual parent-Field Team meeting, Mr and Mrs Sotero reminisced with Mr Bunoan. “Remember when you first came to see us about Soledad attending SAS high school?” Mrs Sotero said.

“Yes. I thought Mr Sotero was going to do me bodily harm,” Mr Bunoan lightheartedly replied. “SAS Ai is very happy for Soledad and proud of her accomplishments. And so must you be…”

“Mr Bunoan thank you so much for not giving up on us,” Mr Sotero said in a very humble and subdued voice. “We couldn’t have given Soledad this kind of good education.”

“Yes we are most grateful to the donors of SAS Ai. And of course we love SAS Ai and all the volunteers who run the organization,” Mrs Sotero’s eyes misted.

It was such a different meeting than the one that happened three years ago. Such joyful realization…

A Portrait of Poverty


the face of poverty

Father and son sleeping their hunger away on a flower-pot ledge

Life paints a portrait of poverty in stark, broad, and undeniable strokes. No scumbling of grays to soften the edges, no “photoshopping” or “airbrushing” to infuse a romantic glow to lessen the pain, to hide the shame, and to reduce the human torment.

A father and child find rest on a narrow raised ledge made for flower pots to decorate this office building. They have walked the streets rummaging through garbage bins and trash cans for half-eaten hamburgers. The day was long and their foraging turned up mostly empty. The child now exhausted needs sleep and the father cannot leave him to sleep by himself out there exposed to the elements. So he stays. He rests with his child hoping the hunger pains would go away.

Some forms of poverty appear extreme. Other forms, as exemplified by the kids we help here at SAS Alumni International (SAS Ai), aren’t so extreme. Nevertheless, their bracket of poverty relegates them to a life sustained on an annual gross income of less than $1167 USD. These kids show tremendous mental drive, curiosity and love for learning. Out of responsible charity and generosity we recognize and acknowledge their need for a good high school education.

Our mission helps these bright and promising kids attend high school. We ask our donors to be generous. Together we can make sure such brilliant minds do not go to waste. Donate now to the scholarship fund. Open a monthly allotment of $45 USD using our secure credit card (VISA, M/C, and DISC) acceptance portal. You can donate any amount you wish; we appreciate it and a child will get an opportunity to attend high school with your generous donation. Thank you.

Former Classmate Comes to SAS Ai’s Aid


Cely Bautista

Celestina Bilaoen Bautista, SAS Class 1958

” Hi Tom, how and who will I give the donation here in the Philippines? I hope somebody is responsible here who you designated. Regards too and take care of your health coz it’s your wealth, di ba…”

Cely asks me to whom should she give her donation to the scholarship fund while she is in the Philippines on vacation, and how? I replied, please submit scholarship fund donations to:

Albert D Bunoan - PR Committee Member

Albert D Bunoan

Mr Albert D Bunoan

Field Team Director

Barangay Dardarat,

Tagudin, Ilocos Sur,

Philippines

Such a short sweet note from a friend. Meet Cely Bilaoen-Bautista, SAS Class 1958. After high school graduation she attended and earned her BSRN from San Juan de Dios College in the Philippines. She went on to work as a registered nurse for Montefiore Hospital. She’s now retired and lives in the Bronx, New York.

Her generous gesture and offer to donate to the scholarship fund touches me deeply. Like most of us, Cely lives on fixed income now too having retired. Yet, she supports the cause and mission of SAS Ai, Inc. Perhaps because she attended and graduated from this great school she wants these bright kids who come from poor families to experience the same excellent education she received. Admirable.

Cely knows the meaning of “poor”. She saw all forms of poverty framed within the context of her workplace. She saw squalor in the inner cities. She witnessed families literally trying to make it day-to-day when she lived back home in the Philippines. Cely is no stranger to the poor and her heart tells her it would be a crime to waste such brilliant minds; these kids need an education. They need help to attend high school.

She follows the message of generosity and charity toward those who have nothing. Cely gives to SAS Ai from her own need. That is the most admirable form of giving.

Thanks my friend for your generous donation.

Mr Charles Wilson Comes Thru With His Support for 2013


Charles Wilson

Mr Charles Wilson, SAS Ai supporter

Mr Charles Wilson is a quiet man, a soft-spoken, kind, gentle soul who would rather smile than say anything derogatory about anyone. About two months ago during a casual conversation, Mr Charles asked me, “How are the SAS Ai scholars doing in school?”

His question jolted me back quickly to about a year ago. I vividly remember him handing me a $540 dollar check he wrote to the SAS Ai scholarship fund. Yes indeed, I thought. Mr Wilson sincerely wants to know how the kids are doing.

“Let me tell ya, we placed seven of them in the honor roll,” I was almost out of breath. The pause that lapsed before I answered him concerned me. Mr Wilson is an accountant by profession and he deals with precision, accuracy and speed. Any hint of hesitation on my part to answer him wouldn’t bode well.

His face brightened as his joy became palpable. “That’s great,” he said. “How many kids did we sponsor last year?”

“We sponsored four of the brightest and neediest among 10 finalists,” I said proudly. “That was all the money we could raise for the scholarship fund. We wanted to sponsor 5 – but we fell short on the funding.”

“How about this year 2013, how many do you plan to sponsor?” Mr Wilson continued to query.

“Four of the brightest and neediest kids. We don’t know yet how many finalists we will have. Four seems easier to shepherd, care for, and service from purely a management standpoint.” I  paused and waited for his reaction.

Mr Wilson supports the SAS Ai mission. Why else would he be asking so many questions… I thought to myself.

“Good talking to you. I’ll see what I can do come April.” He got in his car and drove off. That was two months ago.

This last Sunday, Mr Wilson approached me in the church parking lot. He smiled and brimmed with excitement. His eyes couldn’t hide his being pleased. “Hey there Mr SAS Ai,” he said waving at me. “Got something for you.” He walked briskly toward me.

I stood by my pick up truck’s open door. Mr Wilson handed me another $540 dollar check written to the SAS Ai scholarship fund.

“For 2013,” he said. “Let’s help the kids get launched!”

“Thanks Mr Wilson,” I said, my eyes misting. “Education is Freedom!”

“Amen,” he said. When I looked up he was gone.

He Heard and Listened to the Clarion Call


Saratoga

Clarion Call – “Education is Freedom”

I know of a man who heard and listened to the clarion call. Since the beginning he knew only of spartan surroundings, growing up in a large family of modest means. All his brothers and sisters competed for honors in school. Not to be ignored he earned his fair share of achievement medals and academic awards.

His mother worked hard as the family’s primary bread-winner. His father’s waning health and strength bound him to the wheelchair. This young man, who was once faintly recognizable amongst siblings heaped atop one another, survived the ever-changing family dynamic to emerge a success in his own right.

He heard and listened to the clarion call. An inner voice cried out:  Education is Freedom! Come away, come away. Set sail for distant shores and cast your net in the deep waters. After graduating from Santo Tomas University with his Chemical Engineering degree he landed in Chicago where he set the world literally on fire. Feverishly working his way up the ranks, he earned patents on several chemical concoctions bearing his signature. He ascended the leadership ladder steadily and became the Director of Research and Development at L’Oreal, the perfume giant, until his retirement.

Polon

Engineer Apolonio Villanueva III (BSEChem)

Meet Engr Apolonio Villanueva III. He and his lovely wife Emilie (Nee Valdez) originally from Baguio City live in Chicago, he having happily retired from industry and she from the medical field. Engr Polon (as we fondly call him) thinks very highly of SAS Ai’s mission to help bright and promising kids who come from poor families get a good high school education at SAS thru financial aid. So much so that he supports the scholarship fund for these kids. And we thank him for his donations.

Today, many former SAS graduates work, live, and have retired all over the world. Many are doctors of medicine, engineers, accountants, government workers, teachers and politicians. They heard the clarion call and listened to it. More importantly they acted on it.

The clarion call rings out once again. Listen. Education is Freedom… come away and help send these bright kids to high school with your donation to the scholarship fund. Every bit helps. Surely, with your gift you are making one child feel most fortunate attending high school.