Despite pre-dawn rain, scores of volunteers turned out on Labour Day, May 23, to participate in the national project – the St. Mary Infirmary – which received a major facelift.
The turnout was reflective of the theme for this year’s Labour Day activities: ‘Lend a Hand…Build our Land’.
Youth and Culture Minister, Hon. Lisa Hanna; State Minister, Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Colin Fagan; and Port Maria’s Mayor, Councillor Levan Freeman, headed the wide cross-section of persons who worked at the institution, situated in the parish capital, Port Maria, from as early as 7:00 a.m.
The work included painting of the interior and exterior sections of the buildings, tiling, planting of several crops, erection of a fence, installation of a solar system, and general landscaping of the premises.
The occasion was also used by the Social Development Commission (SDC) and Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) to provide volunteers with material promoting the country’s National Development Plan, Vision 2030 Jamaica.
Speaking with journalists, Minister Hanna, who planted vegetable seedlings and painted a section of the infirmary’s multi-purpose building, said she was “pleased” with the high level of support and input by the various public and private sector entities, and residents from across the parish. She pointed out that the infirmary was selected as the national project for several reasons.
“We wanted to demonstrate our service and appreciation to those who are vulnerable. The (St. Mary) Infirmary has all the facets that can be self-sustaining for the aged and those who can’t help themselves at (an advanced) stage of their lives,” she indicated.
The Minister described the spirit of voluntarism, evident during the day’s proceedings, as “heartening”, noting that this virtue remains vibrant across all sections of the society.
“Many people feel that the spirit of voluntarism is dead; it is not…particularly in rural areas. On Labour Day, while some persons take it as a holiday to relax…if you come into the rural areas, you see strong community projects taking place. We (as a country) are celebrating 40 years of Labour Day and Workers Week, and we are very pleased to see that it is continuing,” Miss Hanna said, while commending Councillor Freeman, for galvanizing the inputs of stakeholders at the local level.
In his remarks, Mr. Fagan cited the strong private/public sector collaboration displayed by both sets of stakeholders, while pointing out that “the response to Labour Day, this year, by the private sector, has been generally good.”
Councillor Freeman said he, too, was heartened by the turnout of volunteers, pointing out that despite other activities being undertaken elsewhere in St. Mary, the stakeholders response to the national project was “overwhelming”.
Matron of the St. Mary Infirmary, Sharon Burke, said the decision to select the institution, as the national project, is a “welcomed gesture”.
“We really appreciate it…and are really happy. I believe that the work being done here will help to lift the spirit of the staff and residents,” Mrs. Burke said.
The infirmary currently houses 82 residents, aged 40 to 92 years, and has a staff complement of 15 employees.
Agencies and organizations participating in the project included: the St. Mary Parish Council; Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB, National Aviation Authority, Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), National Youth Service (NYS), National Centre for Youth Development (NCYD), National Commercial Bank, Lions Club, and Red Cross.
Contact: Douglas McIntosh