After leading the Washington-based Jamaican Women of Washington (JWoW) as founder and the driving force behind that organisation’s work for 10 years, President, Dr. Jackie Watson, has announced that she will be stepping aside.
Anyone in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia who is familiar with JWoW, its mission and work, knows that its name is synonymous to that of its leader. The group of women who form the core of the organisation have come together to do outstanding work to benefit the less fortunate in Jamaica and Washington, D.C.
“I clearly remember our early beginnings when I first invited a group of Jamaican friends and colleagues to get together in the basement of my home in 2003, to discuss how we might give back to our island home. Within six months, our inaugural event was planned and hosted at the Four Season Hotel in downtown Washington, D.C., and the rest is history,” the President recalls, at the annual tea party/fund-raiser, held on June 10, in Washington.
This was the 10th staging of the annual ‘Tea Off to Good Health’ silent auction by JWoW at one of Washington’s premier hotels, the Mayflower Renaissance, in downtown, Washington, D.C.
The event was well attended and Washington Channel 7’s news anchor, Leon Harris, served as the master of ceremonies. The evening’s entertainment included a dance from Miss Caribbean Metro USA, Stefanie Belnavis, as well as a fashion show highlighting apparel with a Caribbean flair.
Chargé d’Affaires from the Embassy of Jamaica, Ms. Cherryl Gordon, in bringing greetings said, “JWoW represents a group of women who share a common bond of love and dedication to Jamaica and its people.”
The organisation, she said, stood out as a sterling example of loyalty and service to Jamaica, which is worthy of emulation by other Jamaicans living in the Diaspora. “Your organisation has remained steadfast and unwavering in its commitment to Jamaica, in spite of the years and miles of separation,” she said.
She added that JWoW continues to live up to its mandate to raise awareness and to provide support to organisations that focus on improving the health and quality of life for vulnerable groups, most notably women, children and families in underserved communities.
In her comments, Dr. Watson said that since its inception, JWoW has donated over US$275,000 to charities in Washington, D.C. and Jamaica and has brought attention to such important public health and social issues as HIV/AIDS, mental health, substance abuse, obesity prevention, teenage pregnancy prevention, and infant mortality.
“I have had the opportunity to visit many of our grant recipients in Jamaica and to meet firsthand the citizens who have benefitted from our efforts. That, I feel, has been the most fulfilling aspect of this journey,” she said.
This year, JWoW will provide grants to assist the public health centres in the south-east region of the island (St. Catherine, St. Thomas, Kingston and St. Andrew). The organisation will also purchase infant scales and length boards, so children can be adequately screened and their height and weight tracked.
Some of the organisations that have benefitted from JWoW’s contributions over the past 10 years include: Caribbean Disability Association, University of the West Indies Development and Endowment Fund, Community for the Upliftment of the Mentally Ill, Westmoreland Association of Street People, Children’s First Agency, Women’s Media Watch, Family and Parenting Centre, Western Society for the Upliftment of Children, Cornwall Regional Hospital, and Mission for the Poor.
By Derrick Scott (Washington D.C.)