Director of the Mount Olivet Boys’ Home in Manchester, and 2020 National Honours and Awards recipient, Patrick Newman.
Photo: Contributed

Director for the Mount Olivet Boys’ Home in Manchester, Patrick Newman’s passion for working with boys and young men, deemed at risk, as also children in State care is driven by his philosophy to “leave the world a better place than how I came and saw it”.

Mr. Newman is among the hundreds of Jamaicans who will be recognized on National Heroes Day, Monday October 19, by the Government of Jamaica at the annual Honours and Awards Ceremony.

He will receive the Badge of Honour for Long and Faithful Service (BH{L}) for Sterling Community Service. Mr. Newman tells JIS News that during his earlier years, while employed to the Department of Correctional Services, he promptly offered himself in response to the management’s request for volunteers to be assigned to the Juvenile Department.

In 1987, he commenced working as a Correctional Officer at the Rio Cobre Juvenile Centre in St. Catherine, where mainly young male offenders were committed.

Boys not committing any offence, but who were deemed in need of care and protection, were also placed at the institution during that time. Mr. Newman says, since then, “there has been no turning back”, adding that “I fell in love with my job”.

“So for 10 years, I provided guidance and counselling to these Juveniles,” he further shares.

Mr. Newman, thereafter, assumed duties at the SOS Children’s Village in Stony Hill, St. Andrew, where he spent eight years as Director.

He describes his experience at the institution as “interesting”, primarily because the facility accommodated both boys and girls.

The Director points out that the arrangements at the facility for monitoring the children’s development were “extremely good”.

However, his passion was working with boys and young men deemed at risk.

As such, in 2006 he was recruited by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) as a Community Development Officer.

This enabled Mr. Newman to work with boys and young men from inner-city communities across the Corporate Area.

These included: Whitfield Town, Majesty Gardens, Jones Town, Craig Town, Dunkirk, Federal Gardens, and Arnett Gardens.

He was instrumental in shepherding several youth from these communities off the streets and into vocations such as barbering, construction, and pig rearing.

“My dream is to see every single young man in Jamaica being productive. But this can only happen if they have men in their lives to help to mentor and groom them so they can become responsible individuals in society,” Mr. Newman says.

Against this background, he encourages more men, particularly fathers, to step up and play a more active role in the lives of boys.

“If we take this kind of approach for our boys, then crime would be reduced significantly. Those committing the crimes are [in] the 13-25 age group; they are uneducated, unskilled, unemployed, underemployed, hopeless and majority of them are fatherless,” he emphasizes.

Mr. Newman also served for three years as Executive Director for the St. Andrew Settlement, an outreach project of the St. Andrew Parish Church.

This initiative, the largest undertaken by any church, aims to develop the Majesty Gardens community through spiritual and social activities.

The programmed engagements include: education, skills training, health care, youth development and environmental awareness, which are tailored to build a healthy and productive community.

Mr. Newman was instrumental in establishing the Majesty Gardens Learning Centre, which caters to children aged 2-4, and is central to building a foundation for their early childhood education.

He attributes his passion for reaching out to the marginalised, to his formative development.

“I was born in Kingston but grew up in Endeavour, a small district in Manchester, with my grandparents. It was a closely knitted district where the entire community was responsible for raising you. It was those times in Jamaica that the community grew the children. Everybody could discipline me if they saw me doing something that my grandmother would not approve of,” Mr. Newman shares.

As such, he says his dedication and commitment to helping the less fortunate and underprivileged is predicated on his regarding “Jamaica as my community”.

In 2015, Mr. Newman took up the post of Director at the Mount Olivet Boys’ Home that currently accommodates over 48 boys, aged 8-18.

“I am living my dream. When I see these boys, who would have come to the Home with all kinds of underlying problems, and when programmes are put in place to help them and you witness the transformation happening right before your eyes, this is priceless. You will not understand until you experience it yourself,” he beams.

Mr. Newman highlights an experience with a ward at the Home who attended a prominent high school, but was not focussed on his studies.

He says, however, that after a discussion with the youngster, there was a marked improvement in demeanour.

This, the Director tells JIS News, promoted the school’s Principal to call, querying what were the interventions that yielded changes in the attitude of the student, who earned a scholarship and is now studying in France.

“Sometimes all it takes is for us to listen. Instead of us planning for them, we should find out what they want. My strategy is to let them tell me what they want to do, what drives their passion, and then guide them in that area,” he says.

Mr. Newman continues to mentor boys and young men across the island and presently serves a member of the Back2Life Foundation, through which he provides mentorship to boys at the Rio Cobre Juvenile Correctional Centre twice per month.

He is also a mentor with the Ministry of Justice Child Diversion Programme.

With so much on his plate, Mr. Newman still found time to author a book.

According to him, while growing up in the country, he had the opportunity to interact with several older folks in the community and some of his peers at school, who were great storytellers.

“When I used to hang out with my friends, I became the storyteller and I was always encouraged me to write a book. So I started to jot down all of the stories and jokes,” he says.

In September 2017, Mr. Newman published his first book – ‘My Life as a Joke…Laugh Till Yuh Belly Buss’.

The publication depicts the humorous side of life, especially growing up in rural Jamaica as a boy in the early days.

Mr. Newman, who has a daughter residing in the United States, proudly declares that he has been a “father to many”, consequent on his steadfast commitment to catering to the needs of at-risk youth and children in State Care for over 30 years.

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