When I met Barbara, she was in her late 80s and living at a modest assisted living facility in North Smithfield, RI. She had settled there after moving from another facility that she thought was too expensive. She had held fast to the vow of poverty she took as a religious sister, caring more about how her savings could be used for others than to provide luxury for her.
During one of our first conversations, Barbara confessed that she had not been sleeping well for several months. Her mind and heart were uneasy as she considered the current provisions of her estate plan. Barbara’s modest lifestyle had enabled her to save a considerable sum of money. At her death, some funds would go to her family and some were designated for a community foundation. But Barbara’s family didn’t need her money and she was concerned that her bequest to the foundation might not be used to benefit the particular causes she cared about most passionately.
Barbara’s passion – evident in her high school graduation profile and refined over years of teaching – was very specific. She cared deeply about children who live in poverty and struggle to find acceptance, opportunity, and success. She believed in the power of deep faith and quality education to change the trajectory of a child’s life. She was particularly concerned that young boys in the formative middle school years would find the guidance and role models they need to flourish in the high school years and beyond.
Barbara was looking for a school or an organization that shared her passion – a place where her legacy would endure in the state where she had lived her entire life. Did such a place exist in Rhode Island?
Happily – and providentially – I was able to introduce Barbara to The San Miguel School in Providence. Founded 20 years ago by Brother Lawrence Goyette, FSC, San Miguel is an independent Lasallian middle school for urban boys from the Greater Providence area. The school is dedicated to the belief that education is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty. The school’s culture promotes citizenship, service, and personal responsibility in a caring learning environment. The academics are rigorous, expectations are high, and individual talents are nurtured. Students grow into young men with a positive vision for the future that leads them to effect positive change in their lives and in their communities.
San Miguel was the perfect match for Barbara – and she enthusiastically embraced the idea of a generous bequest. Though her health prevented her from making a personal visit to San Miguel, Barbara was confident that this was the place where she wanted to leave a legacy. At her passing last year, the school was the beneficiary of her bequest gift – the largest ever received.
School leaders are honoring Barbara’s generosity and foresight in a meaningful, permanent way that they believe will inspire others. They have established an annual scholarship in her name that will fund the education of a student at San Miguel School for generations to come.
After just one visit to a morning assembly at San Miguel, you are confident that Barbara’s legacy is in good hands. The “Miguel Men” exemplify all that Barbara cherished. It has been humbling and gratifying to have played a part in helping Barbara leave a legacy that will make a difference in the lives of many young men. May the promising young girl from Woonsocket continue to inspire us all!