JIS News

Several communities across Jamaica have benefited from a multi-million dollar community centre rebuilding project, which was executed by corporate giant Red Stripe.
The project, which was undertaken last year, saw some $10 million being spent for re-building, upgrading, and re-furbishing of six community centres and recreational facilities islandwide. The beneficiary communities are Bounty Hall, Trelawny; Rae Town, Kingston; Bull Savannah, St. Elizabeth; Edgewater, St. Catherine; Alexandria, St. Ann; and Bickersteth, St. James.
Head of communications at Red Stripe, Maxine Whittingham told JIS News that by undertaking the initiative, the aim was to give something back to Jamaicans for all the years of support given to Red Stripe.
The company, she said, decided to concentrate on improving community centres and recreational facilities, because “they have a direct and ripple effect on communities, individually and on surrounding communities and so that’s how we settled on this project”.
“After-all, this is one sure way of engaging every member of the community regardless of age or status. Not only that but it gives residents a sense of pride and self worth to see a facility or building that they benefit from being upgraded,” she continued.Mrs. Whittingham informed that Social Development Commission assisted the process by identifying the areas most in need.
“We brought them into the picture to help us because they are on the ground in the communities on a daily basis and so they came back with a list of projects, which we examined bearing in mind certain criteria because we are an alcohol company and we wouldn’t want to do anything with a basic school as it counters the spirit of our code of conduct,” she noted.
Mrs. Whittingham explained that the communities, realising the benefit to be derived from the projects volunteered their labour and persons with construction skills were utilized.
What was most satisfying, she said, was the response of the residents. “It touches the lives of people in communities and their appreciation makes us as a corporate company feel good,” she pointed out. “It has been very encouraging for us and we’re really looking at it very seriously to see how we can do more,” she told JIS News.
Mrs. Whittingham said that while there were plans to continue the initiative in 2006, “it won’t be immediate because we did a big chunk towards the end of 2005 in terms of the investment, so whatever we do will be further down the line in 2006”.
Mayor of Portmore George Lee said he was very pleased with the Edgewater project, which included the upgrading of a basketball court and the beautification of the roundabout.
“They were well done, involved the residents of the community, and had a positive impact on their lives and that is a good thing,” Mayor Lee said.
He added that he hoped that other corporate companies would follow the lead of Red Stripe, and “take on community-based projects that impact directly on the residents and better their lives”.