Sarah Belley is an elementary school teacher at Precious Blood School who came into some extra money and wanted to give to a charity. “I had trouble deciding because there were just too many choices,” says Belley.
So when it came to finalizing her choice, the old adage ‘seeing is believing’ helped make her decision.
It started when she bumped into a former grade 4 student at her school: Paige Mills, now 19. Sarah vividly remembers Paige as a very headstrong 10-year-old girl. “I was her grade 4 math teacher and I could never forget her. There was something about Paige, something in her eyes that made me sometimes afraid for her, as I knew it wasn’t going to be easy growing up. I could see Paige’s stress and how she reacted to things. Since I was not her main teacher I was able to talk to her because she didn’t see me as an authority figure, so we would just chat. “She didn’t know how to channel her energy so she often got into trouble at school,” recalls Belley. “I knew the path ahead of her wasn’t going to be straight.” Sarah lost sight of Paige after grade 8, which was around the same time that Paige first came to Marymound.
After the brief reunion with her old math teacher, Paige looked up Sarah on Facebook and sent a message, inviting her for coffee. “I always take people up on an offer when a door is open,” says Belley. “A day later I sat down with Paige and she told me her life-changing story and I knew where my donation was going.”
After Sarah received a thank you letter from Marymound for her donation that also included an offer of a tour of the building and services, she jumped at the chance. Sarah wanted to see the place and learn more about the organization that helped turn Paige’s life around. It turned out to be a very emotional experience for Sarah. “There was something about her, she really touched my life. I could see Paige was a very special person and I could never stop wondering about if she was OK and now I know why,” says Belley.
Sarah has seen and heard what Paige went through and how she has turned into a special, caring and intelligent young woman who passed the toughest test of all – overcoming adversity – with help from Marymound.
“Seeing was, indeed believing,” says Sarah, “and donating to Marymound was a very personal and meaningful choice for me.”