Whoever pegged Christmas as “the” sea- son for giving fortunately never sent the memo to folks who love Jamaica. Two fantastic organizations, Jamaican Women of Florida (JWOF) and American Friends of Jamaica (AFJ), hosted their South Florida fundraisers on April 23rd and both were spectacularly presented.
JWOF raises funds to offer university scholarships to local young ladies and support the Melody House Girls’ Home in Jamaica, among other worthy initiatives. The morning started with two panels populated with dynamic and well accomplished women who shared motivational life experiences with an enthusiastic room-full of attendees. Presenters throughout the day included Beverley Manley-Duncan, wife of popular former Jamaican Prime Minister, Michael Manley, Carnival Cruises VP Marie McKenzie, CNN reporter Rene Marsh and millennial marketing consultant LeToya Stairs.
The headliner of the event was luncheon speaker Paula Madison, former NBC executive, women’s basketball team owner and current owner of The Africa Channel. She spoke about the exploration of her mixed black and Chinese lineage chronicled in her book Finding Samuel Lowe. Most impacting were the stories about her Jamaican mother and the great lessons she imparted on Madison and her brothers, especially that they must become not just successful, but rich.
The evening brought a visit to the annual Miami gala hosted by AFJ, a largely volunteer-driven organization that funds meticulously vetted Jamaican support groups. Outgoing president Wendy Hart said that AFJ encourages folks who can to go beyond standard remittance and alumni giving, and consider contributing to these organizations which serve causes with a broader community focus. The non-profit successfully raised a portion of this year’s $250,000 to be disbursed among selected groups, including Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce’s Pocket Rocket Foundation which helps young athletes in Jamaican schools.
The three Jamaican-born community icons honored in the gala’s proceedings were popular South Florida attorney Marlon Hill, Broward Schools’ superintendent Robert Runcie, and entrepreneur and philanthropist Lascelles Chin. Attendees included Jamaican Governor General Patrick Allen, former Prime Minister, Portia Simpson Miller and Sandals founder Butch Stewart. Both events were stellar representations of the Jamaican community. Catch one or both next year if you can.
Calibe Thompson is a television producer and personality, public speaker and author. Watch her Mon at 10:00PM and Tues, Thurs and Sat at 9:00PM on South Florida’s BECON-TV (Ch 63 / Comcast 19), and follow www.facebook.com/misscalibe.