Supporting Students One Calendar at a Time
What started out as a hobby 14 years ago, when Tom McGinn (St. Barnabas Class of 1961) travelled to Churchill in Manitoba, Canada, has turned into an innovative way to support the students at St. Barnabas Catholic School! After his first trip to the “Polar Bear Capital of the World”, Tom took all of his amazing photographs and gave a set to his sister, who surprised him with the Christmas present of a photo calendar which she had created for him featuring his pictures.
Tom’s next trip was an African safari, where he took many more stunning photos. He liked the calendar that his sister had made for him so much, that he decided to create and print 75 calendars and give them out to his family, friends and co-workers. As Tom continued his hobby of world travelling and photography, people began to look forward to his calendars each year and they started asking how they could reimburse him.
At the time, Tom’s 7th grade teacher from his days at St. Barnabas, Sr. Marie St. James, was the Development Director at St. Gabriel Catholic School, another Independence Mission School, so on the back of the calendar he put that people could send donations to St. Gabriel. When Sister left St. Gabriel to teach at another IMS school, Tom decided it was time to support his “home field”, St. Barnabas. This year, he printed 200 calendars, and people from as far as Canada have supported IMS schools because of him and his breathtaking photo calendars.
Tom has a long family history with St. Barnabas. Not only is he a graduate, but so are his brother and three sisters. After graduating in 1961, Tom went to West Catholic and then got his degree in Engineering from Drexel. Prior to retiring, Tom worked as an Engineer at the same company for 37 years designing Power Plant Systems. “My Catholic education from St. Barnabas laid the groundwork to set me up for success in life,” says Tom. His advice to today’s students is to take full advantage of the education that is being given to them.
Last year, Tom took an Alaskan cruise and says that his 2019 calendar is the best yet. This year, he was hoping to go back to Iceland, where every time he turned a corner there was a waterfall or glacier, but instead, he’s keeping it “local” and plans to drive to several East Coast parks and wildlife refuges. While it’s hard for Tom to name his favorite trip, when they have all been so uniquely wonderful, he says that if money was no object he would like to go back to Antarctica.
When he’s not travelling the world and making calendars, Tom can be found getting back to his roots doing another favorite past time of his – gardening – something he learned to love back in his St. Barnabas school days. Sr. Marie St. James was in charge of the convent gardens when Tom had her for 7th Grade. He would go after school and even over the summer to cut the grass, plant flowers and take care of the garden. He continued to do this in 8th grade, even though Sister was no longer his teacher. Sixty years later, he still enjoys puttering in his own garden, although he would be fine to leave the grass cutting to someone else!
Thank you, Tom, for giving witness to the difference that an IMS Catholic education has made in your life and for so generously using your time and talents to help give today’s students the promise of a bright future!