Kingston, Jamiaca – Tuesday, November 19, 2019: "It's just love when we're dealing with people!” That was the sentiment shared by Digicel Jamaica Foundation Community Development Programme Officer Miguel ‘Steppa’ Williams on the afternoon of Tuesday, November 19, as the Digicel Jamaica Foundation commemorated its 15th anniversary by awarding J$30 million across 15 community groups - one from each of Jamaica’s 14 parishes plus one ‘brawta’. The celebration and award ceremony, which placed a heavy emphasis on the role of community groups in the development of Jamaica, took place at the telecoms giant’s headquarters on Ocean Boulevard in downtown Kingston.
“It takes teamwork and commitment to create a better way of life for all. It takes hard work to boost employment opportunities for young people. Most importantly, it takes faith and vision to plan for the long term, and to imagine your community at its very best, productive, happy and safe,” said Jean Lowrie-Chin, Chairperson of the Digicel Jamaica Foundation board of directors.
Under the theme “15 Strong”, the Digicel Jamaica Foundation embarked on a quest to identify 15 new community development projects in March. The awards ceremony was the culmination of these efforts and was attended by members of the top 30 finalists, who were shortlisted rom 132 applications. Over the last three months, the Foundation’s Board of Directors visited each of the shortlisted organisations to determine the final 15.
Member of Parliament for Saint Andrew East Rural Juliet Holness was the event’s guest speaker. Mrs. Holness recounted three notable projects in her constituency which have been impacted by the Digicel Jamaica Foundation. “I have had the opportunity of spending time with the Digicel Foundation because of the luxury of being a representative of the people. I have noticed that they have spent their time on improving Jamaica.” She continued, “These finalists, I am sure, represent the indelible spirit of the Jamaican people because it wasn’t easy to get here. Each of you has had some type of individual problem that has been facing your particular community and you have sought to make your own community, parish and ultimately your country better.”
When the 15th Anniversary Grant awardees were announced there were shouts of joy, nods of approval, and even a few happy tears in the crowd. The runners-up were not left out, as CEO Dawson made a surprise announcement that each would receive a grant of J$100,000. Agent Sasco brought the festivities to new heights, performing his hit songs Winning and Banks of the Hope.
And the Winners Are…
The 15 awardees, who will each receive J$2 million in grant funding are: Auchtembeddie Community Development Corporation (CDC) from Manchester; Hanover Bee Farmers Society Co-Op Limited; Grotto CDC from Westmoreland; Mafoota Agricultural Cooperative from St. James; Granville Green Park CDC from Trelawny; Central Jamaica Social Development Initiative from Clarendon; Red Bank CDC from St Elizabeth; Dalvey CDC from St Thomas; Seaforth CDA also from St Thomas; Bonny Gate Women’s Group from St Mary; Central Village Benevolent Society from St. Catherine; School of Vision in St Andrew; Port Royal CDC from Kingston; New Era Farmers Benevolent Society of Beecher Town from St Ann; and United Farmers Benevolent Society from Portland.
The runners-up are: Grove Naturals from Manchester; Pell River CDC from Hanover; Cave Mountain CDC from Westmoreland; Mount Salem Community Club from St James; Martha Brae CDC from Trelawny; Summerfield CDA from Clarendon; Bull Savannah Benevolent Society from Clarendon; Somerset CDC and Seaforth CDC from St Thomas; Springfield Farmers Group from St Mary; Macca Tree District DC Benevolent Society; African Gardens Land Development and Constitution Hill CDC from St Andrew; Parade Gardens Benevolent Society from Kingston; Mount Zion Farmers Group from St Ann; and Fuels of Faith from Portland.
Since its inception, the Foundation has focused on the areas of Community Development, Education and Special Needs. Since its inception, the Foundation has completed 1,226 projects in three areas: Community Development, Education and Special Needs.