Émile Constantin produced a contest-winning video that won $1,200 for his late great uncle’s beloved charity, St. Francis Table. Photo courtesy of Émile Constantin

High schooler's video gives back to beloved St. Francis Table

By  Alessia Loduca, Youth Speak News
  • July 27, 2017

What started out as a Grade 10 Civics video project became a new way for Émile Constantin to connect with the memory of his beloved great uncle.

The assignment was to spotlight a local charity. Constantin chose St. Francis Table, a Toronto-based charity that offers $1-meals in a welcoming restaurant environment to community members who need them most, including post-psychiatric patients, refugees and ex-convicts.

His great uncle, Sam Sciberras, visited the charity weekly before his sudden passing in 2004. But the family had no idea about his charity work.

Constantin said they were all surprised when St. Francis Table’s animator, Br. John Frampton, attended his great uncle’s funeral. Frampton told them stories of how Sciberras regularly picked up baked goods from a local bakery and delivered them to the customers at St. Francis Table.

“I decided to do it for his memory,” said Constantin. “We could thank the humble people that aren’t even recognized for what they do. For example, even my uncle would kind of just do it out of the goodness of his heart. A lot of people are doing the same for different charities, so it’s not just this charity that’s doing a good thing.”

Constantin, along with his classmates Max Czu, Devin D’Gama, Ethan Ferrer and Nicole Liut, created a video about St. Francis Table to commemorate Sciberras by bringing about awareness of the place where Constantin’s great uncle had selflessly given his time and energy.

The video chronicles an ordinary day at St. Francis Table.

“I just wanted to show what’s really happening and what we ignore that should be helped and taken care of like they do there,” said Constantin.

After winning best video in their Civics class at Bishop Allen Academy in Etobicoke, Ont., Constantin and his group’s video was put in competition with videos from other classes in their school. With a unanimous vote, their video came out on top, winning St. Francis Table $1,200 to aid its efforts in continuing to provide affordable food services to the community.

Bishop Allen Academy is one of the many secondary schools across Canada that participates in Youth and Philanthropy Initiative. YPI is a social service program that instills a hunger for awareness and change in secondary school students around the world through a mandatory course, a final project and a grant to the winning project’s charity.

Constantin and his friends were ecstatic when they received the news their video had won.

“We were really happy,” said Constantin. “And what made us even more happy was that everyone in our class congratulated us, even though they were going up against us. That was humbling and very nice of them. And they all did a great job too because they made it that far.”

It was also gratifying to know the video’s success has led to grant money that will help the charity.

When they visited St. Francis Table to film the video, Constantin and his friends couldn’t help but notice that the shelves of food could have been more fully stocked and that the nearly 150-year-old building was showing its age.

“They could use (the grant money) to get more food and they could use it to get a little bit of repairs,” said Constantin. “We know that there are a lot of volunteers ready to go there. They’re not low on that, that’s for sure.”

When Constantin sees the volunteers kindly giving their time and energy for others, he can’t help but remember Sciberras and his giving nature. He said it’s important to not only think of and pray for the people using the services at charities like St. Francis Table, but also those who offer their services without asking for anything in return.

(Loduca, 20, is a third-year education student with a major/minor in English and French at York University in Toronto.)

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