Islander focuses on helping people more than 3,000 miles away
Jay Mayers, a Jamestown resident and a high school student at Providence Country Day School in East Providence, is determined to make a difference in other peoples lives. A canceled one-day trip to a Mayan Ruin while visiting Peru last year changed the junior’s attitude toward people less fortunate than himself. Instead of touring the ruins, Mayers and a few of his fellow classmates got to play soccer with some of the Peruvian locals. Mayers said he appreciated the experience because it enabled him to meet the poorest, yet happiest, residents of Lima, Peru.
“The people,” Mayers said, “were the nicest people, yet they were desolate and poor. Some of them were living in cardboard make-shift houses.”
Mayers regretted not being able to do anything about their poverty last year. This year, however, he will be going back to Peru for two weeks at the end of June and hopes to help make life better for a few of the locals.
Mayers’ high school teacher, Sarah Garcia-Mata, will oversee the trip back to Peru’s capital. The first week, Mayers said, will be spent helping the locals in Lima. He will work as an assistant on construction jobs. A French Canadian community service group will provide all the building materials and tools. Mayers will stay with a local family for the second week.
“I have been given the opportunity to fly down to Peru this summer to attend a program where I would build houses and schools for the poor and homeless,” he said. “The only problem for me is that I need to raise a significant amount of money to go. This is a amazing opportunity for me and I would hate to let it pass up.”
In order to go to Peru, Mayers needs to raise $1,000. Some of the money will go towards the flight and construction costs. Some of it will go to the family he will be staying with.
“The family,” he said, “is too poor to feed me so I have to pay for my own food and board.”
Part-time jobs are scarce in Jamestown. Mayers decided he would hand out flyers and try to make money by doing small odd jobs around town: yard work, raking leaves, babysitting, attic cleanouts and garage cleanouts are ideal jobs, he said.
He is adamant that he doesn’t want donations. He would rather work hard for the money instead. His father, John, is proud of his son’s determination and work ethic. His mom, Shawn, who traveled with him last year to Peru, is happy to help her son raise the necessary funds for this year’s trip. “People can help me the most by helping me do odd jobs,” Mayers said.
Mayers has been on the honor roll at his school since the eighth grade. He is currently in the middle of the lacrosse season at school. One of his hobbies is boating with his mother, father and younger brother, Tim.
“I’m just a normal teenager,” Mayers said. He rises each weekday at 5:30 a.m. and his dad drives him to school each morning.
“I’m done with school by 3 p.m., sports by 6 p.m. and I’m home to do classwork by 7 p.m.,” he said. On the weekends, Mayers likes to play lacrosse in the backyard with his teammates.
If any island resident has a job for Mayers so that he can reach his goal, he can be reached on his cell phone at 439-0931 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. He will accept donations but prefers to work for the money.
Mayers said that he will personally hand out any money that he raised above the $1,000 to anyone in Peru who needs help. “Whatever a family needs,” Mayers said. “Even if it is to replace a cardboard home with wood, I intend to do as much as I can.”