Feature
Quenis Baker, 2020 Male Staff of the Year at the Mount Olivet Boys’ Home in Walderston, Manchester, gives the opening prayer at the recently held Christmas awards ceremony and luncheon at the facility. The event was organised by the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) in collaboration with the home, and included the presentation of awards for Boy of the Year, Most Improved Boy, and Female and Male Staff of the Year.
Photo: Rudranath Fraser

Plans are under way to develop a HEART/NSTA Trust-certified facility on the grounds of the Mount Olivet Boys’ Home in Walderston, Manchester, where persons will benefit from skills training in woodwork and welding.

Director of the home, Patrick Newman, tells JIS News that the work will start as soon as the boys are relocated to the new state-of-the-art building being constructed on the premises.

The plan is to transform one of the two small dorms in which the boys are currently being housed, into the skills training centre. “About May 2021, we should see some work starting on these plans,” Mr. Newman says.

“The Sandals Foundation is planning to turn [one of the old dorms] into a woodwork and welding shop and we’re trying to get it HEART-certified, so that the boys who show an interest in these areas and persons outside of the home in the wider community  can register and attend classes. This is going to help us to generate some income and provide an opportunity for persons to be certified,” he tells JIS News.

The new building, which is being developed by the YB Afraid Foundation, will accommodate the boys in one large space.

“We will move into our new building and it should be ready by April 2021. All the boys will be in that space. They will be more comfortable there and we are trying to get persons to assist them as it relates to school on the weekends. They have missed out on a lot of school because of the coronavirus (COVID-19),” Mr. Newman notes.

As it relates to the other dorm, Mr. Newman says it will be retrofitted as a permanent half-way house for those boys who have aged out of the home and have nowhere to go. “So that would eliminate us paying rent for them outside,” he notes.

Mr. Newman tells JIS News that there is a pre-independent facility on the compound and the boys are moved there at age 16.

“At this stage they do things for themselves. So they cook and they clean with very little supervision. This, we believe, is necessary to help them learn how to be responsible, because the next phase would be either going home to their parents, going into boarding institutions, or going to the halfway house outside of the home for those over 18,” he explains.

Mr. Newman, who was awarded the Badge of Honour for Long and Faithful Service at the National Honours and Awards Ceremony at King’s House on October 19, says he is dedicated to the development and improvement of the lives of the boys and has introduced several initiatives in keeping with this commitment since he joined the home in 2015.

Director of the Mount Olivet Boys’ Home, Patrick Newman, addresses the recently held Christmas awards ceremony and luncheon at the home in Walderston, Manchester, which was organised by the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) in collaboration with the home.

 

Among the initiatives is the annual year-end Christmas awards ceremony and luncheon, to recognise the Boy of the Year, Most Improved Boy of the Year, and the Male and Female Staff of the Year.

Nine members of the JIS team, which adopted the home in 2009, travelled to Walderston to share in the December 12 celebrations, with other team members joining live via Zoom.

Mr. Newman says he believes that the awards programme has positively impacted the residents and staff at the home.

He explains that the Boy of the Year award goes to the resident who would have won the most Boy of the Month titles during the year, based on academics, general behaviour and deportment.

For the Most Improved Boy, this award goes to the resident who has shown the most progress over the year in terms of schoolwork and attendance, behaviour and providing general assistance around the home. Members of staff vote through the disciplinary committee.

The boys choose the Male and Female Staff of the Year. “So, the persons who get the most votes get the titles. It motivates the boys, and the staff as well, as they go beyond the call of duty many times so that they can be selected,” Mr. Newman tells JIS News.

​Residents of the Mount Olivet Boys’ Home in Walderston, Manchester say grace before partaking of a meal at the Christmas awards ceremony and luncheon held at the facility recently, which was organised by the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) in collaboration with the home.

 

Sixteen year-old Davion Whyte, who won the coveted Boy of the Year award, tells JIS News that he feels happy to have earned the title.

“I’m always helping around, helping the director, helping to cook in the kitchen and with the washing, and I am always on my best behaviour,” he notes.

“When I was little, my father and my mother never showed me love, so I just thought I would show love [to others],” he adds.

Most Improved Boy of the Year, 14-year-old Anthony Barnes, says he helps to “clean up the place and help with the chickens and the pigs. It’s good to help because you’ll get things in life. I just like to help out – like helping old people to cross the road and things like that”.

Quenis Baker and Haila Gentles, who were named the Male and Female Staff of the Year, respectively, were pleased to be recognised.

Mr. Baker tells JIS News that the award provides motivation for him to keep working for the betterment of the boys.

“It lets me feel very good. It makes me happy that the boys chose me to be the Male Staff of the Year for 2020. My aim and desire is to continue to work with these boys. Money is not all that it takes. I’ve always been working with children and I find it a great pleasure. Although I find it challenging at times, I know that the least you do unto these boys, you have also done it unto Christ,” he says.

Sponsors for the Christmas awards and luncheon were Rainforest Seafoods, B and Y Enterprise Limited, Sugamama Cakes, Cooper’s Delights, Décor and Catering Services, and JIS friends and staff, who gave contributions in cash and kind.

Persons who wish to donate to the home can contact the JIS at 876-926-3590-4 or email specialprojects@jis.gov.jm.

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