Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Every Day Heroes--People Who Are Making a Difference

Smiling faces under the watchful eyes of Ms. Williams

Every Day Heroes--People Who Are Making a Difference

The call to reach out and touch the lives of those who are in need in our society is a noble call and one that does not get answered nearly enough. When asked to step up and heed the call we are often presented with one or all of the following reasons. The list could be longer but you get the idea.

* Not enough time
* Cannot afford to give valuable resources
* The cost of living is too high and we just cannot assist
* It is just never appreciated—it is a thankless endeavor
* Feel we cannot make a difference
* Lack of motivation
* The need is just too great... we are overwhelmed

It is so refreshing to share stories about those who are willing to offer time, resources, experience and hope to those who thirst for something better. We are proud and humbled by the work of our heroes who are reaching out and doing the work demanded by those who are in need.

One such hero is Elaine Jacqueline Williams.  Ms. Williams is 44 years old and lives in the August Town area of Kingston, Jamaica.  She has lived in this community for 31 years and have been a witness to the failures and the successes of her neighbors.  Ms. Williams, Jackie, is the mother of two children.  Shawna-Marie Garcia is pursuing a 3 year diploma in Spanish and English at Shortwood Teacher's College, she has 10 CXCs and 4 CAPES.  Kevaughn Garcia has 8 CXCs and  is presently pursuing a one year advance course in Engineering, he wants to join the JDF so he can pursue a degree in Electrical Enginering.  Jackie states that, “for years I kept seeing my community children not passing for traditional high schools and my conclusion was that many of them were unable to read.”

How did she address this problem?

"Doing volunteer work has always been something that I enjoyed.  I am secretary for the Bedward Gardens Provident Society for the past 8 years, and was Secretary for the Bedward Gardens Sports and Community Development Club.  I along with other community members were instrumental in geting piped water in every household in my community in 2001, and in the early 90s electricity in the community."

"My community is rather large, comprising young children and teenagers.  It started out as a squatter community but the land is now surveyed and lotted and persons are paying for their lots at the housing agency of Jamaica."
What Ms. Williams has done for the children in her community is to boldly step outside of her comfort zone, and reached out to others to come together for the purpose of helping those who are challenged academically.  Her approach is simple and effective. Rather than waiting on others to find solutions, she enlisted her children and close friends to make change happen.

“ It kept bothering me especially when I saw my children and several others, whose parents took an interest in them, excelling, and I want all the children in my community to excel in whatever area they are good at. So in November 2010 along with both my children, my 16 year old niece who attends St. Hughs High, Miss Susan Brown, a 3rd year Business Administration student at UTECH and Ms. Lateisha Blake, a 1st year Primary Education teacher in training at St. Joseph Teachers College, along with the supervision of Mrs. Claudette Thomas, my dream became a reality with between 25-30 students  present each Sunday for remedial class. Class is kept for 2-4 hours from 2-4pm.”

The need is just too great we are overwhelmed

Teaching and nourishing the children

It would have been easy to not start at all as few were willing to get involved—what she did was use her own money. We call it starting where you are. “I started with my own money and Mrs. Claudette Thomas, principal of Covenant Basic School allows me to use the school compound, chalkboards and books.”

Does it not always seem like there is something that comes between you and those you wish to help?

What if we told you that the time you are taking to read this article could be the beginning of a journey that will answer all the questions and objections you are faced with? This is the time to tell your story and chart a course that is yours and yours alone. Will you take the lead and be the change we wish to see in the world? You may surprise yourself and those around you, what will happen are people and institutions will rise up to assist. The universe is waiting for leaders. Are you willing to lead?

Ms. Williams' dedication to service is proof that if you start where you are, you can indeed reach people and those who are willing to assist will reach you. As she states “ I also approached the Digicel Foundation for assistance and was successful in getting a grant of J$33,600 to buy whiteboards, books, and other supplies, and a parent who works at a library in Shortwood, gave me forms for the students and parents to fill out so I can have a library system where students borrow books.”

To those who are given much…much is expected

With limited means Ms. Williams is eager to expand her reach by doing even more as she states “ I would also like to provide a light snack of sandwiches and juice and sometimes little treats such as ice cream, as sometimes the children want to go home early as they complain of being hungry.”

Thanks to the donations made by our friends to Bridges to Jamaica, we were able to provide Ms. Williams with some of the much needed school supplies for her students...and we are encouraging everyone to help in whatever way they can.  From all of us at Bridges to Jamaica we wish to thank Ms. Williams and all of her angels in action who saw a need in the community and decided to help those who are thirsting for knowledge and a chance of doing something good with the life they have been blessed with.

Elaine Jacqueline Williams--changing lives one child at a time!

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  1. I love stories like this; don't just complain = do something!
    ~Natalie D. A. Bennett

  2. a A truly sustainable initiative. We need to do what we must to keep those beautiful children smiling. Imagine their smile is not because of a video game. They are smiling because of a joy for learning. Awesome!!!
    ~Sustain Jamaic