JIS News

Civic leaders in St. Elizabeth are expressing confidence in newly elected Chairperson of the St. Elizabeth Homecoming Foundation, Donna Parchment-Brown’s ability to improve the fortunes of the parish.
Among those welcoming the first woman to chair the 15-year-old Foundation, is Mayor of Black River, Councillor His Worship Jeremy Palmer, who intends to work closely with the Foundation to establish a museum in the capital, Black River, to store the parish’s artifacts.
“The Foundation has done a tremendous job in showing the rest of Jamaica the achievements of St. Elizabeth, and I would want to work with them on a project surrounding the history of St. Elizabeth, establishing a museum in Black River. I know that they have it in mind, but having entered office, I have decided to take it further,” he tells JIS News.
Social Development Commission (SDC) parish manager, Sandra Emanuel says that she is impressed with Mrs. Parchment-Brown’s excellent leadership skills.
“The Homecoming Foundation targets the development of communities, and we are looking forward to continuing the working relationship that we have shared over the years,” Mrs. Emanuel says.
Vice President of the Foundation, Fitzgerald Rowe, recalls that the organisation was formed out of a need to share information about cultural, environmental as well as economic and social issues, among the people of the parish.
“The Foundation always selects a chairman of repute, who can help to drive the programmes of the organisation. Donna Parchment-Brown is the first woman to chair the Foundation, and she is bringing a wealth of information and knowledge to the Committee,” he comments.
“She was one of the pioneering directors of the Foundation, (and) we expect her, along with the other directors, to continue to build the Foundation, so that it can achieve its objectives,” he adds.
Mrs. Parchment-Brown, a former Head Girl at Hampton High School in the parish, shares some of what the Foundation, under her leadership, will seek to promote.
“We seek to pull out the hard working people who are strong on family, peaceful, generous, to highlight the things that are great about St. Elizabeth. That’s the spirit of the parish,” she argues.
“I say to people, all the time, that I am a farmer’s and teacher’s child: these are people who are the salt of the earth. They serve in the political arena, the faith-based area, and their job and my approach is, always make another try if things don’t work out as desired,” she explains.
The first of nine children, and daughter of the first Mayor of Black River, His Worship Hugh Parchment, she says that she learned, from being involved in her parent’s agricultural ventures, that management and virtue help in almost any undertaking.
“From farming, you have an idea that you want to grow something, whether it is an animal or a plant. You have to indentify where you are going to do it, who will be working with you and then, you have to clear the land, you are going to make sure that you weed it, you have to water it, you know that a storm can come and destroy it, but you stick to the task, anyhow,” she expands.
“It has helped me to have a sense of sustainable effort and optimism about everything, and that is what I bring from my St. Elizabeth culture to the broader national culture, including the work that I am doing at the Dispute Resolution Foundation: Sustained effort, keep going back, after things don’t turn out how you would have wanted them to, in the first place” she emphasises.
Born in Newcome Valley, she grew up in Watchwell. She had her early schooling at Elderslie Primary School, earned her first degree in Politics at the University of the West Indies (UWI), but later trained as a lawyer.
She credits her former Headmistress at Hampton, Gloria Wesley-Gammon, with much of her successes.
“She loved her girls. She saw within you your capacity long before you could see it. She dedicated her life to educating young girls, so that we could understand living with the utmost courtesy and discipline, as the school’s motto says,” Mrs. Parchment-Brown points out.
She informs JIS News that she believes that extending basic respect to each other can prevent a lot of interpersonal disputes.
“Listen more, talk less, but listen in a way that intends to learn, that intends to build and, certainly, to co-operate. It is about how we can create things that can help us,” she suggests.
The St. Elizabeth Homecoming Foundation will celebrate its Homecoming Week in November. It seeks to highlight and showcase the achievements of, and recognise persons for their contributions to the parish of St. Elizabeth. (JIS NEWS)

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