Former Bridge­wa­ter teacher gives back with $200,000 do­na­tion

South Shore Breaker - - Front Page - JOSH HEALEY ed­i­tor@southshore­breaker.ca

It’s safe to say that Stephen San­der will never for­get what the peo­ple of Bridge­wa­ter did for him all those years ago.

And to show his ap­pre­ci­a­tion, he re­turned the favour with a match­ing kind­ness: he made a $200,000 pri­vate do­na­tion to the Bridge­wa­ter El­e­men­tary School’s play­ground and com­mu­nity park.

The do­na­tion had pre­vi­ously been an­nounced last year, but Wed­nes­day, Sept. 19 fea­tured a ded­i­ca­tion cer­e­mony to Stephen’s ef­forts.

Due to re­cent health is­sues, Stephen was un­able to at­tend the cer­e­mony, but sev­eral mem­bers of his fam­ily, in­clud­ing his daugh­ter Karen San­der, were on hand.

In 1960, Bridge­wa­ter High School hired and spon­sored Stephen as a phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion teacher.

And de­spite some chal­lenges, the school and com­mu­nity wel­comed young Stephen — who was born in In­dia — with open arms.

Speak­ing at Bridge­wa­ter El­e­men­tary, Karen high­lighted how kind­ness can res­onate through gen­er­a­tions.

“The most im­por­tant thank you is for your grand­par­ents and your great grand­par­ents and your par­ents for some­thing they did so long ago for my fa­ther,” she said to a gym full of stu­dents.

“They wel­comed him, they en­cour­aged him and made him feel val­ued and spe­cial.”

But Stephen’s time in Nova Sco­tia was only the be­gin­ning of his Cana­dian jour­ney.

Fol­low­ing his time in Bridge­wa­ter, he moved out West and

started a real es­tate com­pany, Holly­burn Prop­er­ties Lim­ited, in 1972

To­day, the com­pany has rental hous­ing in Van­cou­ver, Cal­gary, Toronto and Ot­tawa and has 86 rental prop­er­ties na­tion­wide.

Stephen, who is now in his 80s, had pre­pared a video mes­sage for the school and said he had not for­got­ten his roots de­spite his suc­cess.

“It was a long time ago, but I have never for­got­ten,” he said.

“I love you peo­ple of Bridge­wa­ter.”

The town’s wel­com­ing spirit, ex­plained Karen, is some­thing that has made her fam­ily’s life in Canada pos­si­ble.

“It’s those gifts that my fam­ily will never, ever for­get.”

David Mitchell, the mayor for the Town of Bridge­wa­ter, was also present to re­veal a plaque next to the play­ground high­light­ing Stephen’s story.

Mitchell said he was proud of the town and that Stephen’s ex­pe­ri­ence is em­blem­atic of the peo­ple of Bridge­wa­ter.

“This is who we are as a town. It’s not what we have and what we don’t have — it’s how we act with each other,” he said.

Like Stephen and Karen,

Josh Healey

Bridge­wa­ter Mayor David Mitchell and Karen San­der un­veil a plaque com­mem­o­rat­ing her fa­ther, Stephen, and his $200,000 pri­vate do­na­tion to the Bridge­wa­ter El­e­men­tary School’s play­ground and com­mu­nity park.

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