Jamaica Gleaner / Chairman of J. Wray and Nephew (JWN) and the JWN Foundation (JWNF), Clement ‘Jimmy’ Lawrence, is calling for a more collaborative effort to develop communities surrounding Appleton Estate.
Lawrence was addressing a community meeting hosted at JWN’s St Elizabeth base last week.
The forum, part of the company’s corporate social responsibility activities, served to reaffirm its community development thrust, provided updates on future plans for the parish – including the new Joy Spence Appleton Estate Rum Experience (JS-AERE), and allowed for local community members to express their concerns.
The input of the residents is assisting JWN with its long-term strategic planning.
Principals from institutions spread across the region, health officials, community club leaders, the police, clergy and Audie Myers, councillor for the Siloah division in North East St Elizabeth, were among the guests.
HIGHLIGHTING CRITICAL ISSUES
“This forum is designed to highlight and share critical issues affecting connected communities and to help us (JWN) to create more impactful initiatives that aide the community’s growth and sustainability,” said Lawrence.
Similar community-building initiatives had been laid out in areas surrounding JWN’s Spanish Town Road and New Yarmouth operations.
“We see the establishment of a community council as a critical component in our pursuit of the company and the community’s objectives,” Lawrence noted.
He, however, made it clear that “this is a two-way collaboration and will require an outpouring of community effort that is properly streamlined to match the company’s efforts in giving back”.
He challenged the leaders to “take responsibility” in this new dispensation to grow their communities through collaborative effort, as “participation brings greater value.
“This is a very important concept that we need to understand. It’s going to require commitment and we’re going to require that of you,” said Lawrence.
… Quenching thirst for education Outlining efforts to assist in the development of communities around J. Wray and Nephew (JWN) locations, the chairman of the company and its foundation has listed vastly improved opportunities for education, with the company quadrupling its community scholarship offering for secondary- and tertiary-level students from 25 to 100 this year, as well as the introduction of a Joy Spence STEM Scholarship, valued at $450,000, and its recent $450,000 cheque handover to the Appleton Basic School.
Clement ‘Jimmy’ Lawrence praised the community for capitalising on the scholarships, but noted that more could be done and highlighted the community council as an effective communicative mechanism, because some principals said they were not fully aware of the application and scholarship opportunities.
A main concern expressed by the residents was the graded criteria of 90 per cent or higher to qualify for secondary-level scholarships, and Nichol Jackson, the principal of Balaclava Primary, noted that may be “putting it beyond some persons”.
Reasonable arguments were presented by some principals and an agreement was reached to put the pass mark at 85 per cent.
For the tertiary-level scholarship, Marlene Edwards Gayle, principal, Sydney Pagon STEM Academy in Georges Valley, expressed gratitude.
“I want to commend the JWN Foundation on its scholarship initiative,” she said, noting that one of her students was a beneficiary.
On a wider scale, Lawrence provided an update on the US$7.2-million (nearly J$1 billion) investment in AERE, noting that “it will transform our own Appleton Estate and the south coast, providing economic benefits for Siloah and surrounding communities, tourism and the country at large”.