Diocesan News

Local Catholic Teen a ‘Man for Others’

Felix Lam, 17, a graduate of Sacred Heart Catholic Academy and current senior at Regis High School, is on his way to becoming an Eagle Scout. (Courtesy: Patricia Brintle)

BAYSIDE — Oct. 20 was a special Sunday for Felix Lam of Bayside, a senior at Regis H.S., Manhattan, who truly practices the motto of the Jesuits who run the school. That is, he is a “man for others.”

On that day, Lam — along with Patricia Brintle, president of From Here to Haiti, a nonprofit organization that raises funds to rebuild schools and churches in the country in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake there — shipped three barrels full of school supplies — including pens, notebooks, calculators, and backpacks — to be delivered to two Catholic schools in the Diocese of Jeremie, Haiti.

It was the final step in a service project Lam did on his way to becoming an Eagle Scout.

“The Boy Scouts have given me the basis and moral values that help make me who I am — if I didn’t have that background, plus going to my church, I don’t know where I’d be,” Lam said. His father, Felix, and two brothers are also involved in the same Troop No. 49 at Sacred Heart Church in Bayside. 

Msgr. Thomas C. Machalski Jr., the pastor of Sacred Heart, said the parish responded generously to Lam and Brintle’s campaign for the supplies and he noted how active the Boy Scouts are. 

“I’ve had the privilege of witnessing many young men from our local Scout troop who have attained the rank of Eagle Scout,” Msgr. Machalski said. “It’s amazing to see that we have young, service-minded people who are taking part in the overall life of the community.”  

Eagle Scout is the highest rank in scouting. Only about 6 percent of Boy Scouts achieve it. Lam, who joined the Cub Scouts when he was in the first grade, is on track to become an Eagle Scout later this year.

Since the summer, Lam has been collecting school supplies from donations at church and buying at local stores to send to two Catholic schools in Haiti. It was an idea developed after his Boy Scout troop began to work with Queens-based From Here to Haiti. 

“It’s globally minded, and based on Catholicism,” Lam said. “I didn’t want to do something super local that wouldn’t affect as many people. I wanted to have a more global outreach.”

Felix Lam, 17, a senior at Regis High School, friends and family members pack barrels with school supplies collected over the summer months. The barrels will be shipped off to two Catholic schools in west Haiti. (Photo: Patricia Brintle)

For months, Haiti has been struggling with poverty and political upheaval, as violent protests have increased in the impoverished Caribbean country over demands for its president to step down. 

Lam said he was personally affected by Haiti after he visited the Dominican Republic two years ago on vacation and met many Haitians on the trip. 

“Haitians are the nicest people, who go through a lot. The grace they had, how kind they are … it really moved me,” Lam said. “I think it’s a really unfortunate situation they are in.” 

 “[Felix] is an example to other kids about taking initiative to help others, even from around the world,” Brintle said. “In order to know who you are, it’s important to embrace where you come from… Felix is extraordinary by just being himself, and our faith has everything to do with it.” 

Lam, 17, grew up in Bayside, where his whole family — including his three siblings and mom, Marie — all attended Sacred Heart Catholic Academy. He joined the Cubs Scouts when he was in the first grade. 

Lam said he wants to get into emergency medicine. He enjoys the sciences and wants to help people in the emergency room.

The teenager, though, is already helping a lot of people now.