Connections and Kindness in Challenging Times

Shara Campsall

My phone pinged at 2:30 am with a message that lit up my screen. I was already awake, my mind busy with thoughts of Spring Break, cancellations, remote learning and more, so I decided to read it. This early morning message brought positive and welcome news.

“I have sent a large shipment of masks and supplies to you at the school,” wrote SMUS parent Liang Liao. While I thanked him for the donation, I was not yet aware of the extent of the generosity.

Over the years, I have enjoyed the friendships I have made with many of our boarding families and I feel a strong sense of community and connection to our friends in Asia.

This donation of supplies during our global health crisis is a result of the generous spirit of the Liao family. The Liao family has roots in Shenzhen and Vancouver, and their daughter is currently in Grade 11 at SMUS. The donation included more than 10,000 masks, 50 isolation units and protective clothing to help healthcare workers on Vancouver Island.

With this generous act top of mind, I recalled the joy I felt 11 years ago when my oldest son received his Kindergarten acceptance letter. My dreams for my sons at SMUS were layered but I was especially hopeful for the global perspective they would gain. I remember dreaming of service trips, rugby tours, learning stringed instruments in Junior School, and the friendships they would make across the globe.

Our SMUS community is vast and diverse. As different as we are, we all have a shared sense of humanity and connection to our school. There’s no greater proof of these community connections than that 2:30 am message.

With such a large donation of medical supplies from the Liao family, I reached out to alumnus and past parent Colin Riddler ’83, a physician at Royal Jubilee Hospital to determine the best way to get them to frontline workers. He quickly responded and connected me with Island Health. I was fortunate to be able to deliver these much-needed supplies to Island Health last week.

Afterwards, we received two heartfelt emails:

“My biggest fear right now is having to work without protective equipment.  Helping us with this donation through your connections … is truly amazing and most appreciated.  I’ve told many of the doctors in my group and they are equally amazed and thankful.  Honestly so greatly appreciated” – Dr. Colin Riddler ‘83

“Thank you to the St. Michaels University School community for this generous donation and supporting our staff in the work they do every day. We are extremely grateful to the donor parent, Mr. Liang Liao, for this gift that will help provide frontline workers with critical equipment they require to provide care and keep patients, families and staff safe. The outpouring of support we’ve received has been truly heartwarming.” – James Hanson, Vice President, Operations and Support, Island Health

I feel lucky that my sons and I are a part of this SMUS global family. Knowing that many members of our SMUS community work in Victoria’s healthcare system and will be directly impacted by this gift brings me great comfort.

From all of us as SMUS, stay well everyone!

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