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Jamaicans in US donates computers to struggling St Catherine students

Published:Friday | August 22, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Topaz Wilks accepts a laptop from Glen Miller. - PHOTO BY BJORN BURKE

Bjorn Burke, Staff Reporter

AS PARENTS find it more difficult to provide the financial support necessary to assist in unlocking the maximum potential of promising youth, one man's unadulterated altruism through charity has filled a vital niche by giving back.

Invited to attend a youth leaders' seminar at a St Catherine secondary school in 2009, 66-year-old rehabilitation assistant Glen Miller was introduced to a young student brimming with endless potential. Learning about the financial hardships she faced throughout her academic life, he sought to provide a helping hand. Moved by her inspirational speech, it was in that moment his civic duty was realised.

"After she finished, I said, 'I'm going to give this girl a computer because I know she's going to need it'," said Miller, as he recounted the heart-warming handover.

"When I went back (to New Jersey), I said, 'You know, I'm going to start donating computers to the top boys, top girls, and teachers."

Residing in New Jersey in the United States, Miller has acknowledged the importance of benevolence in his homeland, giving birth to his philanthropic endeavours.


Miller has served as a benefactor to students who exemplify exceptional skills in academia, as well as those who are less fortunate. He, along with family members and friends, have sought to pool resources to make the philanthropic feat possible. Today, having made a significant impact in the lives of several secondary level students for over six years, his acts of kindness through the donations of laptop computers have solidified his 'love, care and share' mantra.

"It's a tangible gift that will help them in their academic pursuits," said Marcia Miller, personal development coordinator at a St Catherine-based high school. "Out of these presentations, a number of students have benefited."

Speaking at a handover ceremony recently, laughter and merriment filled the air as 21-year-old Topaz Wilks shared her elation at being selected as yet another deserving recipient of a laptop computer.

Topaz was diagnosed with a rare inflammatory pseudotumor affecting her right eye in 2005. As a result of her ailment, a number of computerised tomography (CT scan) procedures, biopsies and other surgical procedures have hindered her scholastic advance-ment over a five-year span. Consequently, her medical obligations and school work became a tedious balancing act.

"I just want to say thanks to Mr Miller and Mrs Mitchell, and it will be greatly appreciated. As you know, we have a lot of work, and it will help me in terms of time management, instead of running to computer labs and all that," said a beaming Wilks.

Accepted to read for a Bachelor of Science degree in the Faculty of Science and Technology at the University of the West Indies, Mona, Wilks hopes to one day enter the field of medicine.

"At the time when she was ill, I was going to Mico Teachers' College. So you know it was very stressful, I could not get to study the way I wanted to study, but I managed to finish," said proud mother, 43-year-old Beverly Oliver.

She added: "I'm feeling very happy. And financially, it's taking its toll on me. I don't know how she's going to university. I want some corporation to come on board. She's going to be a promising pathologist."

Oliver remains optimistic that her daughter will pull through and overcome all the hardships faced in the past.