‘What­ever I earn, I give away’

Fa­ther Al­bert Maroun join­ing Cape Bre­ton Busi­ness and Phi­lan­thropy Hall of Fame

Cape Breton Post - - Front Page - BY CAPE BRE­TON POST STAFF

Fa­ther Al­bert Maroun is so gen­er­ous that even ac­cept­ing an award is a phil­an­thropic ges­ture of sorts.

Maroun, a for­mer Ma­ronite Catholic priest and physics pro­fes­sor at St. Fran­cis Xavier Univer­sity and the for­mer Univer­sity Col­lege of Cape Bre­ton, will be in­ducted into the Cape Bre­ton Busi­ness and Phi­lan­thropy Hall of Fame on May 23 dur­ing a gala cer­e­mony. But de­spite giv­ing close to $500,000 to var­i­ous char­i­ties over the years — in­clud­ing nearly $300,000 to the Cape Bre­ton Re­gional Hospi­tal Foun­da­tion — Maroun says he wouldn’t have ac­cepted the hon­our if he didn’t think it would help.

“I would have turned it down if I wasn’t hope­ful of in­spir­ing other peo­ple to give to a wor­thy cause,” he ex­plained. “That’s about the only way I can do it — I’m not go­ing to go out and preach to ev­ery­body that I did this, and I did that — but if they want to use that as an in­duce­ment for other peo­ple to help out, I will do it.”

Maroun, who is a few months shy of his 86th birth­day, has been giv­ing for most of his life — some­thing he says he learned from his fa­ther, a busi­ness­man who was al­ways help­ing other peo­ple in the local Le­banese com­mu­nity.

“I guess it’s in my blood be­cause my fa­ther was al­ways good to other mem­bers of the Le­banese com­mu­nity, help­ing them get into busi­nesses and homes and that sort of stuff,” said Maroun, who re­cently re­turned from a trip to Le­banon where he vis­ited the vil­lage near the Syr­ian bor­der where his fa­ther was born be­fore com­ing to Canada. “And also he used to give credit to the peo­ple who shopped at his lit­tle con­ve­nience store. Dur­ing the De­pres­sion and those times, peo­ple had no money but he used to give them credit and many times they couldn’t pay him back but he was very char­i­ta­ble. So that got into my sys­tem, I guess, and when I had a lit­tle money I started giv­ing it away and the more I gave the more I got. It just turned out that way.”

While his pre­vi­ous oc­cu­pa­tions couldn’t al­low him to give so gen­er­ously, Maroun said he in­vested wisely and has been in­volved in real es­tate for many years, at one time own­ing and rent­ing 22 apart­ments in the area.

He’s also lived a rel­a­tively mod­est life­style — his truck is nearly 10 years old and most of his clothes are sec­ond-hand. He even lives in the same Syd­ney home he and his 10 sib­lings were born in more 86 years ago, al­though he also spends part of the year on his farm in Big Pond where he grows grapes and makes his own wine.

“Peo­ple need help, groups need help and so on, and I feel that I can give,” he said. “I’m not the type that likes to drive big new cars and trucks, or wear beau­ti­ful clothes all the time — I’m con­tent with what I have. What­ever I earn, I give away. Why die with it? My rel­a­tives

don’t need money. My nieces and neph­ews, they all have good jobs and are work­ing. These other peo­ple in Cape Bre­ton, they’re strug­gling. The gov­ern­ment is start­ing to cut back on the grants they’re giv­ing to these peo­ple, and they’re do­ing such great work.”

While he’s made gen­er­ous do­na­tions to many local groups over the years, in­clud­ing the Ally Cen­tre and the youth club in Whit­ney Pier, Maroun cred­its his sec­ond cousin, real es­tate ty­coon Lou Maroun (who will be in­ducted into the hall as a phi­lan­thropist along­side him on May 23), with turn­ing his eye to­ward the hospi­tal foun­da­tion. Sev­eral years ago, the younger Maroun, whom he calls “sort of the wealthy boy in the fam­ily,” do­nated $250,000 to the cancer cen­tre, then no­ticed that the wait­ing room for the di­ag­nos­tic test­ing needed some up­grades. Af­ter he gave the hospi­tal more than $35,000 to have it re­fur­bished, Maroun was in­spired.

“So I said, ‘What about the emer­gency room where peo­ple have to wait for 10, 12 hours?’ So that was the first $50,000 I gave them, and then I did it for Glace Bay and I did it for North Syd­ney,” said Maroun, who has been giv­ing about $50,000 each year to the foun­da­tion ever since. “I did it be­cause I saw what good his do­na­tion gave and how nice it was, and that’s what spurred me on.”

Still, Maroun notes that you don’t have to write big cheques to make a big dif­fer­ence.

“You don’t have to have money to do good,” he said. “Be­tween my prayers and my money I do a lit­tle good and I enjoy do­ing that. I enjoy help­ing peo­ple — I al­ways have.”


Fa­ther Al­bert Maroun, who will be in­ducted into the Cape Bre­ton Busi­ness and Phi­lan­thropy Hall of Fame on May 23, is seen dur­ing a re­cent trip to Le­banon.


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