WHY I GIVE
to Girard College ...
HOW COULD I NOT GIVE?
by Steven H. Biondolillo ’73
Reading fellow alum Joel Batalsky’s
response (scroll down) to the question,
“Why I give to Girard,” I well up with
pride. Joel’s case for giving to Girard is
thoughtful, heartfelt and inspiring.
I am proud to call myself his brother.
But my own case for giving approaches
the question from the other side of the
coin, and I answer with the following:
“How could I not give to Girard?”
Did not Stephen Girard bequeath his entire estate to feed, house, clothe, protect and educate me … and thousands like me? He never asked that we repay either his life-saving gift or his investment in our futures. And were we good investment prospects? Many of us were not. I, for example, was a skittish 10-year-old from a broken home and dangerous environment, whose life had been steeped in poverty, welfare and crime. Today, I say both with pride and profound humility that, thanks to Stephen Girard and the Republic in which he so fervently believed, I have had abundant opportunity to create a meaningful measure of success in business and in life. I view my annual donations to Girard, therefore, as mere tokens of gratitude for immeasurable gifts received. My plans include making more meaningful gifts in the future.
I GIVE BACK TO MY FAMILY
by Ed Gallagher ’99
There are some things in life that take very little thought or provocation, and one is supporting Girard College.
Since I was 10 years old, Girard College has been my home and family. Everything I do in my day-to-day life is a direct reflection of the values and education I received from my beloved institution. Today I am an educator and administrator at Girard. For the past eight years I have had the distinct pleasure of “coming home” everyday and working with amazing students. So giving back to my “family” is one of those things that I never have to think twice about.
During these tough economic times, education and schools have been hit the hardest, and Girard College has not been immune to the layoffs, reduction in programming and loss of enrollment that other independent, public and parochial schools have been forced to deal with. To continue to do its good work, Girard needs my support.
There is not a single day that goes by where I don't think of ways to help my alma mater. I owe Stephen Girard and the school he so lovingly created for all of us everything I have today!
I give because Girard College is my home, my family, my passion and
FOR LOVE OF THE STUDENTS
by Harry Strahlendorf ’62
(AKA "Mr. Harry")
(Photo: Harry and Philadelphia Eagles mascot Swoop at a fitness event at the Lower School)
I was married one year after graduating from Girard and began raising a family while serving in the United States Army. I did not spend very much time supporting the Hum in those days. Can you understand what a family with many kids demands? As a matter of fact, it was a struggle just to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table.
A few years ago, I returned to Girard on Founder’s Day and fell in love with our school. It was a privilege to meet the seniors who were on campus that special day. I can't explain it, but a spark was lit within me. I wanted to be close to Girard College once more.
During that summer, I filled out an application to be the volunteer “greeter” in the Lower School (the “West End” to you old-timers!). Soon I began a two-day-per-week trip to Girard. What a fantastic opportunity this was for me! In no time at all, I fell in love with our kids! My heart was deeply touched as I experienced some of their joys, many of their down times, and a staff most dedicated to educating and giving the children a boost. The school year flew by very quickly, and suddenly it was Founder’s Day again, and my class’s 50th Anniversary! Wow, had I come a long, long way since that day when we had all marched down that aisle to “Pomp & Circumstance” in 1962. This time we were fewer, but we were so proud!
During the summer of 2012, I decided that I needed to return to the Lower School as a volunteer again this school year. On September 4th, I was dressed and about to depart for Girard to witness and welcome the return of the kids when I was suddenly struck with an illness that has prevented my return. I sincerely hope my return is possible.
Although I was not able to donate financially to Girard College, other than my lifetime membership in the GCAA (Alumni Association), I am proud of the time and energy I put in last year. I hope that in some small way I was able to offer a role model to our kids. I know that I came away with joy in my heart as a result!
Based on my experiences, I am more dedicated than ever to the belief that Girard needs to be there for these kids, now and long into the future.
TO MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE
Joel Batalsky, ’58
I graduated from Girard in 1958 and I have been a life time member of the Alumni Association. I have contributed to the Alumni Fund and the Girard College Development Fund for many years. I also attended most of the yearly meetings of the Lone Star Chapter of the Alumni in Texas and traveled many times from San Antonio and Dallas to Philly to attend Founder’s Day at Girard to see the school and fellow classmates.
I always knew in the back of my mind that I wanted to make a substantial financial contribution to Girard College. When I turned 71 years old, I began to give this serious thought. As Hillel, a Jewish sage, once said, “If not now, then when?”
When I was a student at Girard, I felt that the world should be fair. When I graduated and left Girard, I still felt that way. Yet, the world has never been fair nor will it ever be fair. All anyone has to do is watch television or read the newspaper to know that life is not fair. Teenaged soldiers cut down for trying to keep the peace; innocent civilians killed in Syria; pilgrims blown to smithereens by a suicide bomber; and children born in poverty are just a few of many examples of unfairness.
As a deeply spiritual person I have been often reminded of Psalm 82: “Give justice to the poor, the orphan; find in favor of the needy, the wretched.”
In summary, I have lived a wonderful and blessed life for which I am very grateful. So I thought by making a financial contribution to Girard at this time, the money that I gave the school would make it a better place than when I found it in 1951. In other words, I hope that the memory that I leave will be that Joel Batalsky left a better and fairer world than when he found it.
Finally, to quote Stephen Girard, “My deeds must be my life” best sums up why I donated money to the Girard College Development Fund.