Religious charity Jamaica Link Ministries (JLM) is celebrating 20 years of innovation, growth, and dedicated service to the most vulnerable in western Jamaica.
Members and supporters of the charity will gather virtually on Saturday (November 13) to celebrate the legacy of the organisation and its impact on the lives of those in need, particularly during challenging times.
The 20th anniversary event, which will begin at 6:00 p.m., will be streamed live on JLM’s YouTube channel and Facebook page.
Social Media Manager for JLM and Youth Pastor, Luke Smith, shares with JIS News that “we will have people who have been impacted by the organisation sharing on that night”.
“We will also have Pastor Dave [Falconer], who is the President, sharing his vision for the next 20 years and just spending the evening celebrating the legacy of the organisation and what it has done and what it will do for the future,” he says.
As part of the 20th anniversary celebration, JLM has launched a campaign to raise US$20,000 to respond to the challenges of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Meanwhile, President of JLM, Hector “Dave” Falconer, whose passion for service gave birth to the organisation in 2001, says it has been responding creatively to the needs of the poor and underserved through several programmes.
The charity has myriad community projects targeting unattached youth, the education sector, orphanages, and infirmaries.
“In the Montego Bay area, we work with all of the different charitable organisations, like Open Hearts downtown [and] the infirmary. We are giving support to the public schools because when we mobilise our groups to go into our public schools, we just don’t go in and preach, we will bring a gift of a computer,” Pastor Falconer tells JIS News.
The JLM President, who ministers at the Uprising City Church, notes that the charity connects with churches locally and internationally to serve the less fortunate.
“We are linking with other churches in the United States (US) to basically go beyond the spiritual to have a social intervention, which is, for us, bringing the good news of the gospel with good works. We believe that this kind of intervention will bring significant transformation,” The JLM President indicates.
“If we could connect with other pastors who are in similar situations, then we could be solving a lot of the resource issues that we have, because the Government can’t do it alone, so we have to step up and give it our support,” he points out.
“If the church steps up more significantly and strategically, we can see a different Jamaica” he stresses.
JLM places special focus on the Whitehouse and Flanker communities in St. James through charitable giving and sports.
“When we look at what is happening in Flanker, many of the youth are unattached so we came up with the whole idea of a football mentorship programme where we try to get churches to work with those young men. Football is where they are, so we [developed] a programme to help the churches better engage with them,” Pastor Falconer notes.
Since the pandemic, the religious charity, in partnership with HiLo Supermarket, has distributed over 1,500 care packages to families in the Whitehouse area.
“Every family there, we were able to give care packages…and that’s an average of $4,000 per package with the help of HiLo. So over 600 persons have been impacted by our programme since the pandemic,” he points out.
Beneficiary, Ann-Marie Lumsden, tells JIS News that when she lost her job in 2020, after the onset of the pandemic, JLM immediately stepped in to assist her family.
“I was the bread winner for my family, and I was out of a job. The Ministry has provided care packages and when I say care packages, it is a solid care package with a little of everything. It wasn’t a one-time or two-time thing; it was consistent; so, I am appreciative,” Ms. Lumsden says.
Additionally, the JLM has forged a partnership with the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Information’s region four to help support the educational needs of under-resourced schools.
“We help to identify the under-resourced schools and we work with those teachers to provide them with the educational resources that they need to better deliver their educational instructions,” Pastor Falconer tells JIS News.
The organisation also constructed libraries at the Catherine Hall and Farm primary schools, Bogue Hill All-Age and Infant School, and Hemming Gay Preparatory in St. James.
Now, as the Foundation celebrates its 20th year, new initiatives are under way.
Pastor Falconer tells JIS News that the charity is expanding its outreach efforts through a programme dubbed ‘Help the Helpless’, which will target Jamaicans who are struggling economically.
“We have more people coming to knock on our doors who just need food, and so we want to increase that effort and expand it as far as we can. We realise that we have to provide more food, clothing and even shelter for the helpless,” he notes.
Also in the pipeline is an initiative that will seek to equip persons with skills to become entrepreneurs.
“Jobs are getting scarce, so instead of people waiting for a job, we want to teach people to create their owns jobs,” Pastor Falconer shares.