When told that he held a winning ticket in the 2017 St. Michael’s College School (SMCS) Big Blue Benefit & Lottery, Armand Scaini '58, OSM did not think twice about how to spend it.
“At the time, I never thought that I would want to keep the money,” says Scaini, who graduated from SMCS in 1958. “I thought it would be better for St. Mike’s to help some students out. I said, give it back to St. Mike’s.”
So, the second-prize of $18,700 was donated back to the school – an illustration of Scaini’s deep generosity and his enduring gratitude for an educational institution he spent five years in --- more than six decades earlier.
Kimm Bailey, Director of Advancement at SMCS notified Scaini that he had won.“I was not surprised by this very generous act as Armand believes in the Basilian Fathers and their mission towards education,” says Bailey.
“Mainly what I am today, the school taught me --- to fly with my own wings,” says the 83-year-old married father of two girls who also has two granddaughters.
A native of the Friuli region of northeast Italy, Scaini’s family immigrated to Canada when he was 12. From an early age, he displayed a talent and passion for working with his hands.
“I was interested in working with carpenters and making furniture,” he says. “I actually worked with my father in construction.”
Scaini’s love of designing and building flourished as a student at SMCS between 1953-58.
“I actually designed and built a house in the summer after Grade 12,” Scaini recalls. “I designed a house in the drafting room at the shop with Fr. (Edward) Ronan’s help and then I went on in my life to be a designer-builder, first in houses and then in commercial. This has been my vocation.”
Fr. Ronan, CSB ’41, was among several of Scaini’s teachers at SMCS who had a profound impact on him.
“The priests at the time and the teachers at the time were so dedicated to helping me,” he recalls. “They taught me goodness, discipline, and knowledge. It has been a life that actually started with the teachers at St. Mike’s pushing us to do better, and to look forward to the future.”
Scaini’s tireless desire to do, give, and serve continue to keep him busy. He spent over 50 years in construction, focused on building apartments and long-term care facilities for seniors. Scaini was also instrumental in helping build Henry Carr Farm, a property north of Toronto, owned by the Basilian Fathers, which serves as a venue for student and staff retreats.
His commitment to service did not end there.
“Armand was instrumental in establishing the Basilian Father Wall located in the Centre for the Arts,” adds Bailey.
He continues to remain active and at the same time preoccupied with the lack of residences for seniors in Toronto.
“I have three sisters, one in a nursing home and two waiting to go in a nursing home, and I can’t get them into the buildings that I sponsored and am still working to look after,” he says.
In the meantime, Armand Scaini has purchased tickets for every Big Blue Benefit & Lottery, since the event began in 2013.
“When I graduated from St. Mike’s, Fr. (Herbert) Regan always said, 'we give you the wings to fly, but always remember to give back,'” Scaini recalls fondly. “St. Mike’s taught me how to think and do well in life, so I have been giving back. I would say I have done well in life. And the best feeling is when you give back.”
The Big Blue Benefit & Lottery takes place on Wednesday, November 20, 2019 in the Centre for the Arts.