Several persons, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and corporate establishments from across the island have been recognized for their contributions toward the alleviation of poverty and destitution in the country.
The awards were given by the Board of Supervision (Poor Relief), at its inaugural awards ceremony, held at the Cardiff Hotel and Spa, in Runaway Bay, St. Ann, on March 27.
Chairman of the Board of Supervision, the Most Hon. Professor Denise Eldemire Shearer, said the agency cannot fulfill its mandate without the support of persons and organizations who give willingly to assist the poor, and as such, it has taken the initiative to host the ceremony, with plans for it to be done annually.
She noted that the awardees were selected for exemplary service, based on their activities, which were considered to be beyond the call of duty.
Meanwhile, Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Noel Arscott, who spoke on behalf of Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, said the Board of Supervision exemplifies one of the main pillars of effective local governance, which is the care, concern and relief of the poor in the country.
He said that the development of the country is centred around the treatment and care of the poor, and the improvement in their general standard of living.
“This is why, as a Government, we have carefully approached the development of economic policy, keeping in mind that the poor and the most vulnerable in society require our protection. We know that we all have to bear a collective sacrifice, but while we do so, we cannot afford for the poorest among us to suffer unduly,” he said.
The Minister hailed the community participation and voluntarism of all the awardees, adding that as a people, all Jamaica must continue to support the ideals of humanity and kindness.
In an interview with JIS News, Ms Barbara Stewart, who collected an award on behalf of the Westmoreland Association for Street People, said the idea of giving the awards was a good one.
“Many of us in the programme, I am sure, just went out to serve, not looking for any thanks or commendations, or any awards, and it is really heartening that we are recognized at this point,” she said.
Reverend Ronald Webster, who collected an award on behalf of the Hopewell Missionary Church, in Hanover, said the awards ceremony was long overdue, as many persons and organizations had been doing voluntary work throughout the country with the poor over the years, without any recognition.
By Bryan Miller, JIS Reporter