May 21st, 2024

School custodian recognized for coaching and humanitarian efforts

By BRENDAN MILLER on May 15, 2024.

NEWS PHOTO BRENDAN MILLER Jamie Franco is the recipient of the Medicine Hat Catholic Board of Education’s 2024 Face of Christ Award. Franco played semi-pro soccer while growing up in Columbia. Franco works as a custodian for the division and is volunteering his free time to coach students at Notre Dame Academy.

bmiller@medicinehatnews.com

Jaime Franco has been a school custodian with the Medicine Hat Catholic Board of Education for more than eight years. However, before he moved to Canada from Colombia Franco, was a physical educator and played soccer semi-professionally.

Roughly four years ago Franco was watching students play soccer during a gym class and asked the teacher if he could lend a hand teaching soccer skills.

Due to his passion and dedication to the program Franco now shares his skills by supporting both the sport academy at St. Francis Xavier and the soccer academy at St. Francis, and still works as a custodian during the evenings.

Franco has been recognized as the 2024 Face of Christ award recipient and was honoured by school board members Tuesday afternoon.

“He just exudes humbleness and selflessness,” Nathan Bechtold, Notre Dame Academy teacher, told trustees and members during the meeting. “It’s so much so that if you knew nothing about his personal life, you would just see this man and say, ‘This is a person of faith.'”

Trustees said Franco shows a genuine passion for coaching students and is well liked by student athletes. They said his smile, friendly personality and positive attitude have “made Medicine Hat Catholic a better place because of his presence.”

Franco moved to Canada from a town in Colombia called Riosucio. With the generosity of the students he coaches in Canada and the Catholic school division, he was able to bring used soccer equipment back to his hometown.

“Because some kids, they need it,” explains Franco. “In that way we can put the kids out of the many problems we have, social problems. They don’t even have shoes, they don’t have anything.”

Following the Notre Dame Academy soccer season, students donated more than 40 soccer balls, equipment and uniforms that Franco was able to fly back to Riosucio.

“They are so happy when I bring this to the kids, they kiss the balls,” said Franco with a smile.

The Face of Christ award is a Medicine Hat Catholic Board of Education award that acknowledges a support staff member for providing outstanding support to their school community.

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