by Jonathan Tam
A town in Nicaragua lobbied SchoolBOX, a Canadian charity that builds schools in Central America, to name a school after an Almonte-area volunteer.
Community leaders in Chaque Dos, Nicaragua, chose to name their school “Jennette Affleck” after the woman who was the first volunteer for SchoolBOX and its most ardent supporter. Jennette Affleck is the mother of SchoolBOX founder Tom Affleck, and she was instrumental in creating the organization. In 2006, after she and Tom roamed the Nicaraguan countryside handing out school supplies, she encouraged her son to follow his dream to start an organization that helped children go to school in Nicaragua. She also helped Tom come up with the name SchoolBOX.
When Tom returned to Canada in 2006, his bank account was empty but his mind was full of ideas about how to help the children of Nicaragua. Jennette welcomed Tom back to live at her house while he got his feet back on the ground and started “Making Education Possible” through SchoolBOX. Over the years, Jennette volunteered at SchoolBOX fundraisers and joined the Board of Directors. Eventually, SchoolBOX grew to empower more than 15,000 students annually in 80 communities to get a basic education, and to construct 50 classrooms.
Tom Affleck is proud of his mother. “’I am so blessed to have the world’s most supportive Mom,” he says. “She believed in me and the SchoolBOX dream from the very beginning. Without her love and dedication, SchoolBOX simply would not exist.”
In 2013, Jennette worked side by side with community leaders to build the school in Chaque Dos. As they worked, SchoolBOX director, Ronald Chavarria, shared the story of her role in the organization’s infancy, and how she had volunteered in Nicaragua countless times over the past eight years. That story, along with her vibrant spirit and positive attitude, led the leaders of Chague Dos to lobby SchoolBOX to name their school “Jennette Affleck”.
In February 2014, Affleck returned to Nicaragua to visit her namesake school. As she approached the village of Chague Dos, she was overwhelmed with emotion. She had been in Nicaragua many times over the years, but this time felt different. This was the first time she would be returning to the four-classroom school she helped to build—a school that would carry her name. The inauguration of the school was an emotional culmination of a lifetime of educational work for Jennette, a teacher who changed the lives of thousands of children in Canada before she began her work inspiring thousands more in Nicaragua.