Graduation Day July 2007 for students at the Rose Hall Basic School, Linstead, Jamaica
NAJASO’s Education and Outreach Committees
A Report By Derrick R. Wright, Chair
September 20, 2007
At the beginning of the year the NAJASO education and outreach committees had 2007 objectives that were the most ambitious ever. Despite the formidable challenges and tasks, I am pleased to report that the 2007 accomplishments thus far have been nothing short of spectacular. In effect, NAJASO, working in concert with the Family Relations Committee of The Atlanta Jamaican Association (The AJA), further extended its exemplary service record as it provided one more year of sterling service, commitment and assistance to the poor and underserved in communities throughout all of Jamaica.
Without a doubt, our list of achievements for 2006 served as a benchmark for the education/outreach committee team members as they set their sights on a challenging list of 2007 objectives. That being the case, it is important that we review a summary of the key 2006 achievements. These noteworthy achievements essentially paved the way for a record year of accomplishments in 2007.
Review of Year 2006 Accomplishments:
Starting in March 2006, the NAJASO outreach committee organized its first relief mission of the year, that time to the Hudson Street Early Childhood Basic School in Sav-la-Mar. Committee team volunteers included Mrs. Ethel Whitehead from Cincinnati, Ohio, representing NAJASO, and Mr. Trevor Oldacre from NAJASO member organization, The AJA.
Mrs. Whitehead made several significant, personal contributions to both the students and the school. Items she donated included an assortment of school supplies, several craftwork implements, school materials, toys, children’s shoes, and many, many other items too numerous to mention at this time.
Separately, team leader Derrick R. Wright donated over 50 T-shirts and, to designated students, a significant number of book bags, while Mr. Oldacre donated several large boxes of stylish, contemporary clothing to area residents.
Two even more extensive benevolent mission trips were organized later that same year in June and October. Among others, those traveling to Jamaica on one or both trips in the June/October time frame included Derrick R. Wright from NAJASO/AJA, and from The AJA, exclusively, Mr. Copeland Comrie, Ms. Hope McDonald, Mr. Trevor Oldacre, and Dr. Edna Tulloch
NAJASO’s Ethel Whitehead could not travel to Jamaica for the June and October trips in 2006, but her positive effect could be felt, nevertheless. Essentially, Ms. Whitehead donated several suitcases of school supplies and clothing for the June and October trips. Those contributions were in addition to contributions she had made earlier that March.
During the June and October 2006 trips, The AJA team members traveled more extensively across the island than it had done in March. In effect, the team crisscrossed the island spreading goodwill far and wide. Under the distinguished leadership of Family Relations Committee Chair Copeland Comrie, The AJA team completed its valiant mission, first hosting a luncheon at the Hudson Street Basic School. After that the team fed poor residents at several infirmaries throughout the island, in Westmoreland, Trelawny, Manchester, Clarendon, St. Ann, and St. Thomas.
The team significantly expanded its mission in St Thomas. For instance, the team joined hands, metaphorically, with the local (Jamaican) Hands Across Jamaica for Righteousness organization, and together they distributed over 10 dozen pairs of shoes to students at a school in Duckenfield, St. Thomas. In addition to feeding the poor at the infirmary in Morant Bay, the AJA team also painted a section of the infirmary. Finally, the team distributed several boxes of clothing to the city’s poor.
2007 – A Record Year of Achievements:
This year NAJASO celebrated an impressive milestone: 30 years of dedicated service to its constituents. That being the case, the proverbial “gauntlet was thrown.” As a result, the education and outreach committees immediately sought to embark on a set of benevolent missions that could be truly characterized as ambitious. In fact, the objectives would be so ambitious that the expected positive outcomes would be equally impressive and certainly worthy of an organization with as distinctive a service record as NAJASO’s.
Several major accomplishments are highlighted below, grouped by project for easy reference.
Education - Vocational Training Centre for Inner-City Youths/Adults:
NAJASO embarked on an organization-wide initiative to establish and maintain a Kingston, Jamaica, vocational training centre for inner-city youths and adults. This initiative was made possible through the generous offer of facilities covering the entire second floor of a multi-purpose building located at 179 Orange Street in Kingston, Jamaica. Use of the fully renovated and modernized building facilities was offered to NAJASO lease-free for five years by Mrs. Winnifred “Molly” Bennett, a NAJASO founding member and renowned philanthropist who resides in Hartford, Connecticut.
In addition to housing the centre, “the facility would double as NAJASO’s headquarters in Jamaica,” NAJASO’s President Cathy Tomlinson beamed with pride. “Further, the establishment of the training centre will be in keeping with our aims and objectives to seek means and ways to assist in improving the lot of the deprived, unemployed and socially economically disadvantaged, and to enlist and encourage the involvement of Jamaicans at home and abroad who can make meaningful contributions to the plight of the underserved.”
Education Committee Chair Derrick R. Wright pointed out that volunteer teachers will be brought on board to help staff the training centre. He specifically noted that a math scientist, who is currently a Ph.D. candidate, has already committed himself to serve as the institution’s first instructor. “We are fairly optimistic that we will have a steady flow of highly qualified and committed volunteer teachers who would be willing to serve as instructors,” Mr. Wright projected. “Even so, we fully recognize that we may have to hire personnel to fill certain slots. We will have to secure funding to make that necessity a reality, of course.”
The Bishop of Kingston, the Rt. Rev. Robert Thompson, has been commissioned to head up a Kingston-based committee charged with making the training center initiative a reality. Further, the executor for the estate of NAJASO visionary Ambassador Alfred A. Rattray has secured the family’s blessing for the facility to be named in honor of the late ambassador.
Education - Rose Hall Basic School Scholarship/Assistance Programs.
At a ceremony for dozens of smartly attired graduating students at the Rose Hall Basic School in Linstead, NAJASO proudly presented thirteen, full-year scholarships to high-performing non-graduates. Six of the awardees received full scholarships covering tuition, lunch and uniforms, while seven were tuition-only scholarships. Benefactors included the Jamaica Progressive League of New York, California’s Carol Williams, and The AJA’s Copeland Comrie.
Separately, NAJASO furnished two, 4-drawer filing cabinets for the school’s exclusive use. The cabinets have been installed and are currently being utilized quite effectively to secure important school documents.
NAJASO has ongoing commitments to help the school meet several other urgent needs, including the need for swings and slides for the outdoor play area. In addition, the school needs 250 feet of barbed wire for use in building a fence to further secure the school grounds.
This school had been adopted as an official NAJASO education/outreach committee project.
Education/Outreach - Maranatha Learning and Care Centre, Lilliput, St. James:
Once again the Maranatha facilities in Lilliput are the beneficiaries of NAJASO goodwill. Earlier this year NAJASO contributed US$500 towards the cost of updating a recently completed annex for the facility. This past July, as part of the NAJASO 2007 convention outreach program, NAJASO’s Ethel Whitehead and Mrs. Balford donated, to the school, several boxes of school supplies. Separately, Mrs. Whitehead contributed US$1,000 to further expand and improve certain aspects of the annex.
Flo McLean contributed Ja$3,000 towards the school’s operating budget.
Outreach - Caribbean Christian Centre for the Deaf (CCCD), Granville, St. James:
The CCCD was the second of the two projects officially identified as part of the NAJASO 2007 convention outreach program. However, unlike the long-established Maranatha partnership, the CCCD initiative is a new undertaking for NAJASO this year.
Items donated to the CCCD in July 2007 included those listed below that the institution had specifically requested:
- Double-packs of 55-gallon trash bags
- Several items of clothing
- Masking-tapes, duct-tapes and cellophane tapes
- Several dish towels, and
- Aluminum foil wraps (several packages).
Benefactors contributing items to the CCCD: Mrs. Merthella Wright and Mrs. Ethel Whitehead.
It is anticipated that future contributions to this newly adopted institution will be even more significant over time as the NAJASO-CCCD partnership matures.
Needless to say, NAJASO and the combined committees, in particular, are proud of their 2007 accomplishments. Those accomplishments are even more noteworthy when one considers that there are several months still remaining in 2007, time enough for the committee to improve its philanthropic service record even further.
On that very note, the outreach committee plans one more mission to Jamaica in October 2007, to work with the “Hands Across Jamaica for Righteousness” organization to implement several benevolent initiatives. Separately, NAJASO’s Dr. Isaac Bartley, a medical doctor who practices gastroenterology in southern California, has collected, and plans to donate later this year (as soon as shipment can be arranged), the following equipment/materials to Mandeville Hospital:
- 2 Newborn incubators
- 5 Cardiac defibrillators
- 4 Cardiac monitors
- 1 CD/cassette player
- 1 DVD Player
- Several medical CD/DVD/cassette tapes and medical books