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Volunteerism and community service have long been regarded as integral to national development, and for persons like Gregory King, are focal and pivotal points in life.
Over the past several years, Mr. King has been actively involved in a number of activities which have fostered community and personal development, and engendered sound leadership qualities and camaraderie, among other notable traits.
Mr. King, who is currently the Principal of the Turnberry Primary School in Clarendon, also teaches extra lessons to students at that institution, as well as adolescents from neighbouring communities. He is also is also convener of the Middlesex Area Primary School Football Competition.
The teacher’s activities actually span several communities in Clarendon and St. Ann. He also serves as Chairman of the Turnberry Basic School Board; is a member of the Mocho Area Development Committee, a Seventh Day Adventist Programme; Community Area representative to Jamalco; former Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA) President for Mocho District Association; sports co-ordinator for the Mocho District of the JTA, all in Clarendon; and served as public relations officer for JTA Monegaue District Association in St. Ann, among other activities.
The first of four siblings, Mr. King, who was born in Dawkins, Clarendon, attended Lennon High School in that parish; Mico University College (formerly Mico Teachers’ College), where he acquired a Diploma in Primary Education; and later acquired a First Class Honours Degree in that discipline at the University of the West Indies (UWI).
Mr. King, who benefitted from participation in the National Youth Service (NYS)-administered programme – Jamaica Values and Attitude (JAMVAT), attributes his dedication to volunteerism and service to the training he received earlier in his life.
“My early training at the Mico University, and through the JAMVAT programme, is what gave me the tenacity to take on these roles. And I have been quite successful at them, up to this point,” he says.
The proud father of two notes that time management is critical if one is to undertake and fulfill commitments.
“You might find that when it is family time, I make sure that I spend quality time with (my) family. I try my best to…(stick) to my commitments as when it is work time, it is work time. Of course, there is a time when you meet and socialise with your friends and relax,” he argues.
Outlining details of his involvement in the JAMVAT programme, Mr. King informs that he was interned at the Ministry of Education’s Region Six offices in St. Catherine during the summer of 2005. He notes that the JAMVAT programme seeks to assist tertiary level students who are in need of financial assistance.
“What they do is…instead of giving you the money, it requires of you to share your service and you will, in turn, benefit from a 30 per cent payment on your school fee,” he explains.
This provision applies to students enrolled in tertiary institutions, who are unable to finance their education. While, primarily, targetting second year students, the programme, which started in 2001, is also open to persons in their first and final years. Beneficiaries are expected to complete 200 hours of community service through a work-study programme which begins in the summer, and are given up to six months to complete this engagement.
Mr. King describes the experience gained as “invaluable”, pointing out that apart from skills training, participants benefit from professional, social and work ethics development, while interacting with associates in a business-oriented environment.
“For me, I got training using the computers, (and in) human relations. I also got to meet with persons in higher authority. I got to meet with them on a professional and social level, (and) develop long-term relationships (while) getting a clearer understanding of work ethics,” he informs.
Speaking to the significance of the NYS-administered programmes, Mr. King says they are critical to the development of the youth and, ultimately, the nation.
“The programmes are critical in (bridging) the gap between academics, the school and the work world. I think it is most useful in terms of providing the students with the skills and expertise to better equip them for the workforce. It will further develop your human relations and technical skills, and you will be better able to function in any job. I am yet to see a student who is a participant of the NYS programme who is unable to deliver when they get a job,” he says.
Mr. King points out that he constantly implores youngsters to join the service. “Every time I go to a community function to speak, I always encourage the graduates to join the NYS programme because a lot of them will not be able to hold down a job (as) the job market is very low at this time. So they can continue their studies in skills training …(as) the NYS (is) open and willing to accept every student,” he informs.
Mr. King speaks to the feeling of goodwill he experiences when the joy of accomplishment in any activity undertaking by an individual is reflected on the face of that person with whom he interacts, particularly if he, in some way, contributed to their achievement.
“You might not be able to do everything for everybody. But at those critical times when you are called upon, you make sure that it is well done, so that they can benefit in any way possible,” he says.
He implores individuals to seize the opportunities of the programmes offered by the NYS, which promote development of self and nation.
“Don’t stay idle out there, saying that you ‘can’t (do) this or can’t (do) that’… just get up and do it, whatever it is. Just work hard at it and you will see the results,” Mr. King urges.

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