Wed | Dec 2, 2020

Patria-Kaye Aarons | Campion’s helping hands

Published:Wednesday | July 3, 2019 | 12:00 AM

One day, a couple years back, I wanted to donate an academic scholarship to a Campion College student. Having matriculated to this school of excellence from Mona Heights Primary myself in 1993, I wanted to do my part in making sure that a child who came from a background similar to mine didn’t have to worry about how their schooling would be paid for.

I wanted them to have the freedom and flexibility to focus on just doing well in school and soaking up all the experiences that Campion provided, inside and outside the classroom, through extracurricular activities.

I reached out to the principal to make arrangements. Grace Baston, in a manner befitting her name, let me know that she happily welcomed the financial contribution. However, I should not expect any fanfare around the handover. She was quick to manage my marketer expectations.

To maintain the dignity of the person in receipt of the scholarship, no mention would be made of their name. No sob-story press release painting the picture of an impoverished child rescued from the slums by Patria-Kaye and her big heart. The child would never be made out to feel like a charity case.

I developed a huge respect for Grace in that moment. And a new perspective on giving.

Campion has done a great job over the years in levelling the playing field. In making everyone feel like they belonged there.

You got into Campion because you were bright, and what your parents had in their pockets was never a factor. Their breakfast programme is executed with a level of discretion that makes me proud. Those who get lunch money assistance get it on a cash card, and all students use cards at the cafeteria, so no one is singled out.

Cliff Hughes, in passing, told me a story that brought me to tears. A child he was sponsoring graduated last week as the top boy in his cohort. It was very moving because Cliff never shouted about it.

Quietly, without song and dance, he simply paid the boy’s tuition each year. It was a huge weight off the parents’ shoulders.

I can understand. And the young man made his family and Cliff proud. He was able to become his very best self because somebody believed him and supported him quietly. And he never once in his classroom carried the pressure or shame of being the poor one.

The marketer in me is learning to readjust. Is learning that true benevolence isn’t accompanied by a photo op and press release and a printed oversize cheque.

I’m learning that life is more about giving in private. About YOU knowing the good you do and not everybody else.

Doing good in exchange for getting pats on the back and public praise is just disingenuous. Your true motivation ought to be the betterment of your fellow man.

Patria-Kaye Aarons is a confectioner and broadcaster. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and findpatria@gmail.com.