JIS News

Increasingly, stakeholders in the local business sector are becoming cognisant of the challenges that Governments face in meeting all of the needs of the citizens. As such they are subscribing to the philosophy of social reinvestment, to aid in national development, thereby creating a more socially equitable society.
Three organisations, the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI), National Commercial Bank Foundation, and Island Grill Foundation, have adapted this philosophy, which they recently utilised to provide much needed infrastructural and educational assistance to the Abilities Foundation.
In an interview with JIS News, CFLI Coordinator, Deborah Duperly-Pinks, explains that the rationale for undertaking this initiative is to cater to vulnerable and marginal groups, such as those facilitated by the Foundation which can easily be overlooked, which forms part of the organization’s policy.
The CFLI, Ms. Duperly-Pinks says, provides funding assistance to such groups for the implementation of small projects, with assistance also being extended to persons who have HIV/AIDS.
“We help persons who have challenges, because, if we don’t help each other, what’s the whole point? This is supposed to help people help themselves in a lot of ways, and persons who have various challenges are just like the rest of us. If we can, somehow, help and demonstrate that a little help can make a big difference, this has the possibility of wider and broader impacts,” she emphasises.
The CFLI donated approximately C$10,000 which was used to build a sidewalk which will provide an easier and safer corridor for students accessing the Abilities Foundation, instead of their having to walk on the road.
The project, the Coordinator says, is a fundamental step towards enabling persons with disabilities accessing public facilities, and being able to function in the society.
“We invest in projects that are sustainable; they must be innovative and really make a big impact on society. When we assisted with this particular project, it met all the things we were looking for, and most importantly, it makes a good investment. What we realised, was that the children had no access to their school, and this was a real problem. The Canada Fund is about fostering a sense of inclusion and creating access, [which] is critical towards taking advantage of a lot of other opportunities,” she states.
Additionally, Ms. Duperly-Pinks says that public awareness is critical for any organisation to thrive and as such, the establishment of a sidewalk will give the foundation a high level of visibility.
“The sidewalk project, we believe, will give a greater level of visibility to what the Abilities Foundation is trying to do, because it will stand out and heighten public awareness. Sometimes we don’t see people with disabilities, and we don’t understand what it is like to live with these challenges. So this will be critical as it will meet their needs, and sort of give a heightened public awareness of this institution,” she articulates.
While noting that this is not the first project of this nature which they have supported, Ms. Duperly-Pinks says this particular undertaking is already providing a sense of fulfillment.
“This sidewalk project looks extremely beautiful and it feels wonderful, because it is doing more than what we thought. I am totally thrilled that the school children are using it because it keeps them safer,” she enthuses, while encouraging other individuals and organisations to assist the less fortunate in whatever way possible.
Sharing similar sentiments, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Island Grill, Thalia Lyn, who provided the Foundation with its first sign, says that her input is the result of the high level of determination and commitment shown by the trainees.
“Looking at people who have challenges and [despite these] still try hard and make progress, inspires me. They show such high levels of determination to get to where they want to go, passing [over] their hurdles,” she notes.
The Island Grill CEO adds that working with the Abilities Foundation is indicative of the company’s core belief that it has a responsibility to give back to the community.
“It is our duty to give back to the community, and so we decided that each branch was going to work on a community project. The Abilities Foundation was chosen by our Manor Park branch. What we have come to realise from our short relationship with the Foundation, is that these persons have abilities not disabilities, and just need the opportunity to get things done. When we saw the work that they have been doing here, it amazed me. And so we had to go in and find out what we could do for this organisation,” she points out.
Mrs. Lyn stresses that the investment made in the Foundation is one that makes them feel proud, and they are committed to giving back to the community.
“The trainees at the Foundation know that they have the ability, because this institution created for them, an environment where they are assured that they can have access and they will move forward. Island Grill is proud and committed and believes that each of these trainees can accomplish their goals,” she affirms.
The National Commercial Bank Foundation (NCB Foundation), no stranger to corporate social responsibility, provided the Abilities Foundation with two scholarships and computers.
Projects Manager at the NCB Foundation, Samantha Chantrelle, informs that the Bank’s investment in the Abilities Foundation is a continuation of its commitment to improving the lives of Jamaicans, irrespective of who they are.
“We are happy to give back to the community, because our investment in young people is an investment in our company, and in Jamaica, by and large. We assist the Abilities Foundation because we like to work with organisations that are helping those persons in the community who are at a disadvantage, and have bigger obstacles to get over,” she points out.
Located at 191 Constant Spring Road in Kingston, the Abilities Foundation was founded in October 1992, and is a registered voluntary organisation and a community-based training institution with HEART Trust/NTA. In keeping with its objective of increasing the employability of persons with disabilities, the institution teaches young adults with disabilities good work ethics and facilitates their social and emotional re-adjustment, to ensure effective integration into the wider society.

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