A retired teacher passed away, leaving Dumont school district, where she used to work, a million dollars to be spent on scholarships.
Now, her beautiful story of dedication and selflessness is going viral.
Genevieve Via Cava died in 2011. But before that, she told Superintendent Emanuele Triggiano she was going to donate $1 million.
“I thought it was a joke,” he said. “But then we got the paperwork.”
Now, thanks to Via Cava, the money has been put in a fund where it will generate interest so that the district can give scholarships over time. The first is going to one special education student seeking post-high school education in the 2019-20 school year.
Dumont NJ teacher donates $1 million to special needs students https://t.co/r1uKkC5HyX— Ravi Dutt Goel (@ravi_dutt) June 7, 2018
With no children of her own, it can be said that Via Cava may have seen her students as an extension of her own family. As such, this gift seems more than fitting.
According to those who knew her well, she amassed a small fortune over her life by simply saving and being smart about her money. She wished to help future generations shape a better future for themselves.
Richard Jablonski, a close friend and executor of her will, met her over 35 years ago. He said she may have seemed tough to those who didn’t know her well.
“She was an amazing woman who could light up a room just by walking in,” said Jablonski. “She had a smile that was unbelievable. She could talk to anybody just to start conversation with them, and by the time they walked away, they would be hugging.”
He also said she was frugal and refused to spend money on herself. Going through the Great Depression made her very aware of how difficult life can be to people without means. She even refused to get hearing aids toward the end of her life.
“The Great Depression really left a mark on her,” Jablonski said. “I asked her what she was saving for, since she could afford it, and it would change her life for the better.”
Long before Via Cava left her savings to future students, she was already making people’s lives better.
The teacher was so caring that she would help former students find jobs long after they left school. One of them, the principal at Dumont school district’s Selzer School, James Kennedy, ended up turning into a friend.
“She had an uncanny memory when it came to her students and could remember things that happened a long time ago,” Kennedy said.
“She had a very good sense of humor,” he added. “She made kids feel relaxed and was very approachable as a person.”
Whenever she could, Kennedy explained, Via Cava would also befriend her students’ parents and refer them to after-school programs that helped special needs children have a better grasp of how they could transition into daily life.
By the looks of it, she wanted to keep on helping, even if not in person. As Jablonski said, “She’s leaving behind a lasting legacy.” And the students who will be touched by her kindness will hopefully be made aware of her sacrifice.