Dieza Dolencio has been a source of comfort for too many Pearson College students to count during the more than 40 years she has volunteered as a host.
Dolencio – or Tita – as she is called by the students who have stayed with her during holidays, first began to share her Oak Bay home in 1975 with anywhere from a couple of students to up to 27 at a time for holidays and dinners.
“I just felt the kids, so far away from home, needed some good food and company and a safe place where they can stay and relax,” explained the native of the Philippines who moved to Canada in 1964.
Although Dolencio has reduced the number of kids she takes under her wing following her 8oth birthday in May, she continues to do what she can, in part because of the lasting connections she has made over the years.
Three Pearson alumni who share a special bond with Dolencio honoured her for her contributions by establishing a scholarship in her name. In just a few weeks, they launched “The Legacy Project for Tita Dieza” and raised enough for a one-year scholarship at the Metchosin-based United World College campus.
Alumnus Iggy Sison, a graduate in 1983, said that during his time as a student, Dolencio provided a home away from home. “Tita was so much more than a host,” he explained. “She always made us feel at peace and nourished us with happy company, a delicious meal and emotional support. I know she would like to see us helping others, so we created this legacy project in her honour because she exemplifies the spirit of generosity.”
Dolencio said she was moved by Sison’s efforts. “He’s been very faithful keeping in touch all these years and I really appreciate what he has done,” she noted. “He’s like my son, he adopted me as his Canadian mother.”
To learn more about Pearson’s host family program, contact Deanna Cuthbert at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 250-391-2416.