I’ve waited a few days to compose this so I wouldn’t weep or be too sentimental, but it’s such an endearing, powerful topic that I might tear up. The pride I feel for my son, his school, our family, and our community is enormous right now. Here’s why: last week, my son found out that one of the beloved Mount Vernon custodians, Terrence Tamplin, had been injured in a car accident. Terrence needs surgery to repair his ankle, which will leave him unable to work while he recovers. With four young children and a fiancee, Terrence has a lot of people who depend on him.
Patrick is always quick to react when he sees someone in need, in distress. He has amazing compassion and empathy. So, that day, he got online, established a GoFundMe page for Terrence’s medical bills and set the bar high ($5,000 initially). He posted the link to Facebook and later raised the goal to $8,000. Within two days, the link was shared over 250 times, between Facebook and Twitter, plus assorted emails. Not only did they reach the goal…they surpassed it! The final count was $9,895. Students, teachers, parents, entire families, lower, middle, upper school, everyone chipped in!
Terrence and his family have been very touched by all the support and love from the Mount Vernon community. It doesn’t surprise me though. Mount Vernon, as a school family, is just THAT wonderful. They expect all of the students to be involved in service work each semester, from preschool all the way up to seniors. And the families…they are incredibly responsive, cooperative and engaged. When Patrick came to Mount Vernon in the middle of the sixth grade, I wasn’t sure we would fit in. However, the teachers embraced him, the parents welcomed us and we found our school home.
Patrick has always had a penchant for heartfelt giving. He might be slightly embarrassed for me to share these stories, because he’s humble. But I think the cat is out of the bag…we know he’s got a big heart. When he was in second grade at Spalding Drive Elementary, an ethnically and demographically diverse school, he noticed a little boy in the hallway, a kindergartner. Not so remarkable, until he came home from school and told me, “Mom, I gave away my Christmas money today”. At first, I was shocked. It was $100 that my grandparents had given him. Then he told me why. He said the little boy, from South America, was always dirty and hungry. He had a uniform, but it was his only one. When he saw the little child that day, he folded the crisp bill and placed it into his hands. I always start crying when I think about that. Patrick gave up money that he could have used for himself, buying toys or video games or movies. Instead, he gave it to someone in obvious need, entirely selflessly, with no expectation of anything in return, not even a thank you. He was seven years old.
Patrick stops me sometimes when we are out, if he sees a homeless person asking for food. We stop, buy food, have a conversation, and sometimes give them money. Once, we were leaving a huge show at Philips Arena and we quickly passed by a wheelchair bound man with a sign. No one was stopping or even looking at the man. Patrick took me by the hand and quietly led me back to him, asking what we could give him. The gentleman thanked us and blessed us. Somewhere in the background, U2’s “One” could be heard, finishing out the concert. I recall feeling like I was the one who had missed the message, and Patrick shows me that over and over again.
Patrick’s giving is legendary within our own family. Every year, when we took our huge annual family beach trip, Papa (my grandfather, Patrick’s great-grandfather) would give all of the grandkids $100 to spend. We play putt putt, ride go carts, go roller skating, play poker, watch movies. One night during each trip, Aunt Gail and Uncle Tim would take Patrick to Alvin’s Island for some shopping. Every year, for many years, he would come back with giant bags in hand, full of goodies for everyone, except himself. I still have the True Blood shirt and the little pastel stuffed lemur that says hello in a squee voice—I treasure them. And his cousin, Casey, still has the priceless “half man, half horse” shirt, picked out especially to suit him. For an only child, Patrick lives his life sharing with others and giving of himself, in so many creative, thoughtful ways.
Beyond Patrick, I’ve noticed recently, and must bring to attention, the good influence and works of fellow student and friend, Ms. Ali Taylor. She has established a clean water charity called Waterback. (Visit Indiegogo.com and search for Waterback). Their goal is to provide backpacks to haul clean drinking water in places like Kenya, Sudan, Haiti, Honduras, the DRC, Ethiopia, etc. She founded this startup non-profit and developed a plan to implement her ideas. Ali is also planning a mission trip to Africa this coming summer. It’s beyond impressive that these students are motivated to help others and are so aware of the world beyond. Nothing gives me more hope than seeing this generation of brilliant people find solutions for daunting issues.
Some of you may know that our family has a great interest in philanthropy. I like to say we are passing our blessings on to others. My parents were blessed with success after many years of exceptionally hard work. They expect us to be good stewards of what our family has earned. Seeing Patrick’s service, and, realizing that this gift for giving has life and breath…wow, it’s powerful. Some of his generosity is definitely inspired and influenced by family, school and church, but most of it comes from deep inside his magnificent heart and soul, a gift from God. I burst with pride thinking about Patrick, our family and our Mount Vernon family. These “KIDS” will CHANGE the WORLD.