Published On: Thu, Nov 25th, 2021

Counting their Blessings this Thanksgiving

By: C. Ron Allen

She lost her mother, sister, and brother when their house collapsed from the massive 7.0 magnitude earthquake that rocked Haiti on Jan. 12, 2010.

Jude Saincyr and her cousin, the only survivors in their home, were stuck under a bed, which shielded them from the rubble.

“The bricks fell on the bed and one side of the bed broke,” Saincyr, a graduating senior at Atlantic High School, recalled this week. “We were under the other side until they found us about four hours later.”

As we enter the season of giving, Saincyr has so much for which to be grateful: a new lease on life and the opportunity to get a college education, thanks to a local nonprofit organization. After the disaster, her father sent her to Tallahassee, but the teenager did not attend school for a year. It was not until she came to live with her grandparents in Delray Beach and enrolled in high school that a teacher introduced her to Bound for College, an organization that helps at-risk students in south Palm Beach County enter and complete college.

That opportunity was priceless, she said, adding that the organization, formerly known as Delray Students First, prepared her through practice to get better scores on the SAT and ACT tests.

“They made me a better test taker through lots of practice every week,” said Saincyr, who plans to pursue her nursing degree at Florida Atlantic University in the Fall. “We don’t get our motivations unless there is someone there to motivate you. We don’t know what we want unless someone tells us about it.” 

Like Saincyr, a handful of students who were enrolled in Bound for College, shared their stories to a roomful of people at Delray Marketplace. They are grateful for the life skills, career planning, mental health counseling, college tours and educational field trips that the program provides.  

 “Our motivation doesn’t come from home but from teachers. Teachers were a big impact in my life. They motivated me to do so much,” said Hadelle Estimphile, an Atlantic High alum and now a sophomore at FAU.

College was not in her reach for various reasons, she said, until she was introduced to Bound for College.

“I didn’t know how I was going to pay for college, but they helped me with my essays and helped me improve my SAT and ACT scores, so I could get 75 percent Bright Future Scholarship. Now, I don’t have to worry about money.”

Through the affiliation, the students were awarded the prestigious Eda and Cliff Viner Community Scholarship, a four-year award to a state university or college for academically deserving students in Boca Raton and Delray Beach who have financial needs and are community service driven.  

Despite last year’s challenges, many of us are still thankful, and although we have the chance for a more normal Thanksgiving this year, many, such as Anna Marie Valdez, will still connect virtually.

The mother of three, who lost a sister, a neighbor and a brother-in-law to COVID-19, has not mustered the courage to venture out.

“I am still not comfortable getting around crowds and I can’t say if and when I will be,” she said.

Upon returning to school, Aiden hit the jackpot when his elementary school teacher handpicked him to be in Star Makers, a STEM-centered afterschool program on campus.

“We have a lot of fun,” said Aiden, who is thankful for being back in school after being cooped up in his home. “We learn about airplanes, and we learn how to take pictures and how to wash clothes and cook.”

Samuel is grateful for loving parents.

“I’m most thankful for my family and that they love me, and they take care of me every time I need care, or when I need help with homework,” the fourth grader at Orchard View Elementary said. “Some other kids might get money, but I get love. Some kids may get gifts, but I get hugs.”  

Like many of you, I am grateful for so many things: the essential workers – doctors, nurses and other medical workers who have braved the virus to attend to patients in nursing homes, hospitals and clinics, and saved many lives – law enforcement and fire personnel, postal employees, delivery workers and those who work at supermarkets, pet stores and pharmacies, farms and processing plants, factories and distribution centers. Let’s not forget the teachers, custodians, and sanitation workers.

Finally, I’m thankful for this opportunity to opine on the important issues of the day – exhorting, explaining, deploring and applauding. I am also grateful for you, our readers who have continued to support this newspaper, since our inception. 

 Happy Thanksgiving.

C. Ron Allen can be reached at [email protected] or 561-665-0151.

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