O P I N I O N
Stand up. Speak up. It’s your turn.
Thank you, Manchester, for giving me the gift of humanity. Strange opening sentence, right? But the one good thing about turning 80 is that you are not scared to tell the truth. And so here it goes . . .
I was born with the proverbial silver spoon. I loved my parents and they loved me. They loved me so much that they provided me with the greatest of life’s lessons, health care, and education. I never once worried about money, career, or my future. Because of them I was destined for greatness. I achieved it. I became CEO of a ground-breaking high tech company. Oh, and I looked the part. Beautiful suits, beautiful office, beautiful country clubs, beautiful vacations, beautiful homes, and I can go on and on.
My love affair with Manchester began two years ago. The vibrancy of the city is palpable: the restaurants, the theater, the concerts, the Currier Museum of Art – too many to list. It’s a city with heart. Everyday people I find friendly and kind. It was two years ago that I lost my wife of 48 years. I wanted to numb myself from heartache and pain. I decided to live out the rest of my years swallowed by the glorious sights and sounds of this city.
But then, by chance, I met the refugee community in Manchester. I became alive. I wanted to help them, no, I needed to help them. They weren’t born with that silver spoon, they were born without a spoon. For the first time in my life, I had purpose beyond my family’s needs.
Through Inti Academy, we made a difference in the lives of those huddled and poor yearning to breathe free. For 10 years we have succeeded brilliantly to transform the lives of 300, at no cost to them. But now Inti cannot sustain itself. The victims are innocent children and my heart is breaking for them.
I have done everything I could over these few years to connect with others in the community and share with them Inti’s vision, and the incredible fruits of this amazing program. Many generously opened their hearts, and donated to support Inti Academy. Unfortunately, with growing interest in the program, and associated costs, we will have run out of reserves and our Executive Director, Max Latona, has determined that there is no other way forward but to end the program on June 30, leaving future plans unrealized and on the drawing board, and leaving so many children without the vital enrichment Inti has brought to this community.
I always considered myself a good man, an upstanding citizen but, looking back at the comfortable life I’ve lived, I was selfish. Manchester, thank you for giving me the gift of humanity.
And so, citizens of my city, I implore you: If you have the means – or the time – to help our refugee and immigrant families, please do. For all that I have earned and achieved in my lifetime, there is one true thing I’ve learned: humanity has riches all its own.
Fred Harwood is a retired high-tech executive who lives in Manchester.
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