by Nancy Caluya-Nicolas
“I’m so happy to see you!” I greeted Phillip Myers.
“Me, too!” he replied with a broad smile.
After those short and simple salutations, we wiggled our way to the chairs around a table of the Outback Steakhouse in Taco Hills.
I was in Atlanta, Georgia with Doc Glenn Roy Paraso, a board member of the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI), to join the General Board on Global Ministries (GBGM) in its celebration of the Methodist Mission Bi-Centennial Conference in Emory University.
There was another reason why I made sure to be there—to meet Phillip, who has been donating to KKFI since 2016. I thank the Rev. David Ahearn and his wife, Minako, for arranging my long-sought meeting with him and making my wish come true.
“I’ve always wanted to meet you to personally thank you for your support to KKFI,” I told him.
Phillip came to know about KKFI when he heard Reverend Ahearn, a professor of LaGrange College, shared to the members of Druid Hills United Methodist Church about a recent visit to the Philippines. He also pleaded with the congregation to help KKFI send underprivileged children in the country to school.
Pastor David told them he was helping KKFI to raise a fund for this purpose.
Phillip’s heart was instantly touched. He approached David and told him: “Don’t worry about it; I’ll take care of it.”
Phillip is the epitome of a philanthropist. He is not exactly a millionaire; but he has the heart of a selfless billionaire.
He spent 49 years of his life as a staff member of the World Relief, particularly in the refugee program, which supports migrants in the United States. He has retired for several years, but he still continues to serve by volunteering his services to two local hospitals.
His contribution to the KKFI scholarship program has rippled to an extent we never imagined. Today, KKFI is supporting 60 scholars pursue college education or vocational course.
“Oh, I did not know that!” Phillip said, incredulous but apparently pleased, when I told him about it.
Before, the KKFI could only support the Alternative Learning System (ALS), which is only up to high school level. After Phillip started sending his contribution, the KKFI was able to jumpstart a scholarship program that allowed the Foundation to send high school graduates to college and vocational schools.
The effect of these opportunities were, obviously, life-changing for the scholars. They developed self-esteem that was not there before. They have become youth leaders and “teachers” of out-of-school children in poor communities in the city of Manila and the suburban province of Bulacan.
Indeed, Phillip’s donation started the ball rolling for KKFI’s scholarship fund that now has benefitted many. And his effort continues, “as long as I live,” he said.
My encounter with Mr. Phillip Myers, was, indeed, a brief one, but I know in my heart of hearts that it was a moment that’s worth cherishing for a lifetime.
On my part, I was sure that I was in the presence of pure-hearted soul, a kindred spirit whose generosity is heaven-sent for poor children and youth in communities where KKFI serves.
I learned that he lives alone. However, he assured me that he no longer feels lonely because he now has a family—the KKFI family.
Before we said our goodbyes, I presented to Phillip a plaque of appreciation from the officers and staff of KKFI. I can tell he felt our—the KKFI and children’s—love.
In the end, that’s what’s important—the love the family members feel for each other.