The Sean O’Connell Scholarship Fund

An excited Franzso winning one of his many awards!

An excited Franzso winning one of his many awards!

Philanthropy has always been a core value of my business and my life. If there’s any way I can make a positive difference in someone else’s life, I feel strongly about putting in the time, labor, or donation to make that difference. So I was saddened to hear of the death of Richard Rockefeller, who helped start Doctors without Borders in the US, which I’ve always been a supporter of. I also love working with others to change people’s lives – whether helping build homes for Habitat for Humanity or my own ‘Project Katrina’ (in which my team and I not only supplied, but decorated the homes of Hurricane Katrina victims – with my own designs –  furniture, bedding, decorative accessories), to supporting the generous charitable works of my incredible friends – like Lucinda O’Connell and her initiative – The Sean O’Connell Scholarship Fund.

Lucinda, my patient painting instructor, and an extremely talented artist in her own right, who lived for many years in St Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. While painting in her studio a few years ago, a young Haitian boy peeked in her window to say ‘hi’ and although Franzso didn’t speak much Enlgish, they became fast friends. Lucinda began to teach him how to paint and the English language. She then helped get Franzso into the Antilles School – a wonderful private school in St Thomas – and they sold some of his art to help pay. As news of Franzo’s story spread, more and more people donated to help pay for his schooling.

During his 1st year of school, he learned to play the trumpet and was voted class secretary. After school, Franzso was tutored by Lucinda’s husband, and our close friend, Sean O’Connell, and Lucinda would cook dinner for the two scholars.

In April 2011, everything changed when Sean was tragically murdered and Lucinda was unable to keep painting after such a traumatic event. Thankfully, the Antilles School was quick to respond, and they helped Lucinda setup a scholarship in Sean’s name, and donations have allowed Franzso to continue succeeding at the Antilles School.

Franzso will be starting 11th grade in the Fall and has become an amazing student. In fact, last year, he won second place in the national “Poetry Out Loud” competition, played the lead role in “Romeo and Juliet”, and won five awards – “Most Valuable Athlete”, two other awards for his athletics, an award in performance art, and also visual art.

Lucinda, rightly so, is extremely proud of the incredible work Franzso has done, and I’m unbelievably proud to be a supporter of the Sean O’Connell Scholarship fund. If you are interested in donating to this worthy cause, I suggest you call the Antilles School’s business office at 340-776-1600×251. Or for more information on Franzso’s story, you can contact Lucinda directly – I truly believe there is no end to what the young people of the world can accomplish if they have our guidance and support!

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