Excerpts of the testimonial from scholarship recipient parent, Shirley D’Souza at the 2019 Futures in Education Scholarship Dinner
Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen, Angels, sponsors and donors of Futures in Education.
My name is Shirley D’Souza and I am a mother of four beautiful children. My daughters Edelsa and Summer, attend City College and Hunter College respectively. My older son Cyrus is at Thomas Edison High School, pursuing his dream of becoming an Automotive Technical Engineer. Only two years ago, he graduated from St. Mary Gate of Heaven Catholic Academy in Ozone Park, where he was the beneficiary of an Angel scholarship from Futures in Education. My youngest son Daryus is now in 5th grade at Mary Gate of Heaven. Here is a small part of my story.
My husband and I came to the United States in 2014 from the Islamic Republic of Pakistan with our four children to seek refuge and safety. We had no friends here, no family and no home. We lived in an attic and then had to move to a basement. I then worked in a laundromat and my husband washed cars. It was depressing, heartbreaking to see my kids uprooted and brought to an alien country, but I believed that God had guided us out from there safely; He has never abandoned us before and I knew He never will.
One day my husband and I were scouting the area for a Catholic school and a parish to join. We passed this beautiful church, St. Mary Gate of Heaven. Upon speaking to the Deacon there, we were referred to the school. I still remember upon entering the school a sense of warmth came over me, like we were finally home. Although I loved the school and always wanted my sons to get a good Catholic education like my husband, myself, our daughters, our parents and grandparents too, I was reluctant because I knew we would not be able to afford the tuition. After taking the information, I shared my thoughts with the Principal, and he told me about Futures in Education. My prayers were answered as my boys received financial assistance to help ease the stress of paying their tuition.
St. Mary Gate of Heaven has provided a safe, consistent, stable and loving environment for my boys to learn and grow. Cyrus, my older son was always encouraged by the principal, Mr. Philip Heide, his teachers and mentors to participate in the school plays, which built his confidence. At 16 years old, he continues to visit the school if ever any help is needed; he is an altar server and in the Boy Scouts of America, on his way to become an Eagle Scout.
Daryus loves his school, too. He was elected “Student of the Month” and is following his brother’s footsteps to be a boy scout and altar server. In 3rd grade Daryus participated in the annual Wax Museum where the children were asked to research any famous personality who had made a positive effect on them. Daryus chose Pope Francis! He dressed like the Holy Father and spoke about the importance of humanity, being humble, about the importance of prayers in families and forgiveness to those who have wronged you. I could not hold back my tears when I saw him standing in the school auditorium, flash cards in hand and speaking his thoughts aloud with such confidence and compassion. I know deep down in my heart that it was only because of the inspiration he received by observing and interacting with the priests, his teachers, the principal and even the janitorial staff and lunch mothers, who have always displayed these traits. The most valuable part of being in the Catholic School community is learning from the example of others living their faith.
Without the support and help of Futures in Education, all of this would not have been possible. As an Alien in this country, with low income, no close family and the burden of supporting a family of six, YOU Angels of Futures in Education are life savers for me and my family. I appreciate all that you have done and strongly believe that Futures Angel donors have been sent to us by God. Because of your selfless generosity, you have made it possible for my children to build Catholic foundations that we parents alone could not provide.
I am honored and humbled to have been given this opportunity to stand here and express my gratitude. I have been waiting for a long time to say THANK YOU to all of you. May God bless you all and may the Almighty grant you peace, love and happiness always.