A quiet man with a big heart makes a monumental difference
On what would have been his 93rd birthday, we salute a donor whose bequest has changed lives
You don’t have to be rich or famous to make a difference. Morris Steeves knew that before he lost his life to a blood disease six years ago and bequeathed $23,000 to Christian Children’s Fund of Canada. Today, we honour him on what would have been his 93rd birthday.
The New Brunswick native, who worked as a ticket agent for the Canadian National Railway for more than four decades, understood the value of giving back to his family, friends and community. “He gave a lot of money to church organizations, and he was always about the underdog or the less privileged,” recalls Danny Tramley (pictured, above, left, with Steeves), the longtime friend of the aficionado of good conversation, cooking, books, crosswords and opera.
Steeves wasn’t an extravert, but he understood the value of people in our lives. “That’s one thing he taught me — to really appreciate my friends, and to enjoy and appreciate our lives, and to be very thankful for what we have,” said Tramley. He did just that, and in his death thousands of children are gaining a better chance at living life to the fullest.
His bequest was one of several contributions to the $5.3-million, multi-year Lead for Education Achievement and Progress (LEAP) project in Ethiopia, which accomplished the following:
- the construction of 17 early childhood care and education centres (ECCE), which were furnished and equipped
- the recruitment and training of nearly 3,000 primary school teachers
- the supply of indoor playing materials and outdoor play equipment for 20 ECCE centres
- the provision of 766 desks and chairs, 25 chalkboards, 51 teachers’ tables and 61 chairs in 16 primary schools, benefiting nearly 2,300 students
- more than 80,000 reference books for 108 primary schools
- library furniture for 40 primary schools
And, that’s just a small sampling of what has been accomplished, thanks to Steeves and LEAP. It’s a fitting tribute to a quiet, blue-collar worker who loved to learn. “He’d be honoured” his gift was making such a difference, noted Tramley. “He’ll be smiling.”