Betkowski, Wang Speak at Beauregard School Meeting February 10
Maggie Betkowski ’21 and Lian Wang ’21 were the the featured speakers for the second annual Joseph Hilliard Beauregard ’18 Memorial Generosity of Spirit School Meeting February 10. The event was held virtually.
Betkowski, of Mercersburg, talked about her efforts to raise money for the Maranatha Food Pantry in nearby Chambersburg, PA, and Wang, of Hong Kong, China, shared her work connecting with homeless communities in her home of Hong Kong. This is the first time current students have given an endowed lecture at the Academy.
The lecture series honors the memory of Beauregard, who attended Mercersburg for three years and graduated with the Class of 2018. He passed away in October 2018 during his freshman year at Savannah College of Art and Design; the speaker series has been established in his memory and with an eye toward furthering an ongoing and powerful message of recognition, respect, and caring that were a part of Joe’s life.
“The Joseph Hilliard Beauregard ’18 Memorial Generosity of Spirit School Meeting is a special time, as we get to honor the memory of a special young man who had a positive impact on our school,” says School Minister Rev. Will Whitmore, who introduced the two speakers. “We are fortunate to have students who give back to their local communities, sharing their gifts and love just as Joe did.”
During the meeting, Betkowski, who overlapped with Beauregard on the diving team during her first year at the Academy, shared how her fundraising efforts came about as a direct result of the pandemic. Last spring, propelled by a desire to give back during a time of uncertainty, she began contacting individuals in the area who either worked with or volunteered for Maranatha Food Pantry in Chambersburg, and once she learned that monetary donations would be most helpful, she created a website to collect donations and spread the word to friends and family.
“I was surprised at not just how many people donated but how generous people were in their donations, especially during a time of such great need,” Betkowski said. On her own, she raised more than $3,000 for the Maranatha Food Pantry, and in cooperation with Mercersburg Academy and the #MercersburgCares campaign, she helped raise another $11,000 for four other organizations. Betkowski and her classmate Rose Potter ’21 were both featured for their fundraising efforts in the summer 2020 issue of Mercersburg Academy magazine.
“Even when things seem uncertain, it is the little things we do for others that make people truly happy,” Betkowski added in her talk. “This community has showed me how to be generous and has made me passionate about giving back to this place which has given so much to me.”
In her portion of the talk, Wang shared her experiences connecting with the homeless through Street Connect, an organization that Wang started in Hong Kong. While researching the non-governmental organization (NGO) sector to identify how she could best help, Wang found that charities don’t often have the resources to communicate their work effectively. Talking with homeless individuals, she also found that what they most needed was food. To target these problems, Street Connect runs a media website dedicated to the NGO sector and goes on regular outreach trips to bring food to and chat with local homeless communities.
“I’ve been thinking a lot about generosity of spirit,” Wang said in her address. “The way in which you think about things—your mindset—can have a huge impact on what you do, and more importantly, what you get out of it.”
“Be generous with your words; if someone does something you appreciate, tell them. Be generous with your actions; a small investment of time on your part could multiply into a huge impact on someone else. And be generous with your community.”
The addresses by Wang and Betkowski served as the second event in the annual Beauregard Memorial Generosity of Spirit School Meeting series. Psychologist, performer, and poet Dr. Michael “Mykee” Fowlin was the inaugural featured presenter in February 2020.