JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Twenty-eight year-old Sheldon Owen is on a mission to do as much as he can to help persons in need, children and the elderly.
  • It is this mission which inspired him to form the charity foundation he has dubbed, ‘Owen’s Charity Cause’, which is to be launched next year.
  • Following his graduation from DeCarteret College, in Manchester, and with very little sense of direction as to what he wanted to do, Mr. Owen applied to join the NYS Entrepreneurial Corp Programme.

Twenty-eight year-old Sheldon Owen is on a mission to do as much as he can to help persons in need, children and the elderly.

It is this mission which inspired him to form the charity foundation he has dubbed, ‘Owen’s Charity Cause’, which is to be launched next year.

Mr. Owen and his three support staff are currently formulating the vision and mission statements of the charity, with a focus on providing support, such as medication for the elderly, and covering back-to-school expenses for children.

“Since I was growing up, I always liked helping out and giving back and I don’t like to see people in a (poor) condition. As a young person, it always gives me joy to assist in some way,” he tells JIS News.

Since July of this year, Mr. Owen, who hails from Pepper in St. Elizabeth, has been employed to the National Youth Service (NYS) as an Engagement Officer.

However, this is not his first involvement with the youth training institution. In fact, according to this youth leader, he owes much of who is today to the NYS.

Following his graduation from DeCarteret College, in Manchester, and with very little sense of direction as to what he wanted to do, Mr. Owen applied to join the NYS Entrepreneurial Corp Programme. He was later informed that the camp had changed to Primary Education, but he had no objections.

He made the step that was to shape his new-found passion for teaching and went off to Camp Cobbla. After completing a difficult, but rewarding month-long training course, he was placed as a Teaching Assistant at Villa Road Primary and Junior High in Manchester.

After successfully completing that six months of service, Mr. Owen was accepted to be a part of a joint NYS and Canada World Youth cultural exchange programme – the Jamaica/Canada Youth Exchange (JAMCANYE). The programme, staged over a seven-month period, has a focus on literacy and engages participants in voluntary service at different organisations in Canada and Jamaica.

This programme, Mr. Owen says, not only taught him patience, but also fostered a new sense of awareness and open-mindedness in him.

“The JAMCANYE programme impacted my life tremendously as I gained so much exposure by working with individuals from the disabled community. Working with these persons made me realise how impatient I was. That experience caused me to do a self-check, allowing me to be more patient and to appreciate persons with disabilities more,” he said.

He would eventually enroll at the Northern Caribbean University (NCU) to pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree in Secondary Teacher Education. While a student, however, he would work at the NYS office in Manchester every summer for six years. After classes, he offered himself as a volunteer at the NYS office. That experience of working with, and guiding young people, unearthed in him another passion – working with the youth. He decided to do a Minor in Social Work.

As a result of being so heavily involved in the NYS, and due to his participation in  JAMCANYE, Mr. Owen’s tuition was subsidised by the organisation by 52 per cent for three years.

“Being in the NYS guided me to become a leader. It molded me into being the type of person that I am today. I believe it has helped me to discover my true potential. The experience that I gained is what is guiding me now,” he says,  adding that the programme has helped him to maintain discipline over the years.

Mr. Owen served in several student leadership positions at the NCU, and is now Chairman of the Pepper Progressive Community Group, a mentor of the Golden Youth Foundation and a member of the Charity Foundation, Feeding of the 5000.

“I have a passion for volunteerism. I really enjoy giving back to society in a positive way. I encourage every young person to volunteer and gain the necessary life-changing experience,” he tells JIS News.

He is encouraging  youngsters to become volunteers in the NYS programmes, which, he says, are not just geared at providing job opportunities, but also at personal and professional development.

Meanwhile, Mr. Owen is working on engaging persons in his community to benefit from a literacy programme he is starting. He says many persons who need help to read are unwilling to participate in the initiative out of fear of being stigmatised.

He is also planning to pursue a Masters Degree in Youth Development.