- The facility, which is located on the grounds of the Waterford fire station, was built with funding from the Universal Service Fund (USF).
- It is equipped with 19 computers; one server; one printer; a multi-media projector; computer desks and chairs; air conditioning unit; and Internet access.
- The facility represents a transformational approach to community development, which will impact their social and economic landscape.
Hundreds of residents in Waterford and adjoining communities in Portmore, St. Catherine, are benefitting from the recent opening of a resource and outreach centre constructed and equipped at a cost of $4.4 million.
The facility, which is located on the grounds of the Waterford fire station, was built with funding from the Universal Service Fund (USF), in collaboration with the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development; the Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB); the Social Development Commission (SDC); and community volunteers.
It is equipped with 19 computers; one server; one printer; a multi-media projector; computer desks and chairs; air conditioning unit; and Internet access.
Services to be provided at the Portmore Fire Station Resource and Outreach Centre include homework assistance; eLearning access point, help for GSAT, CXC and CAPE students; and literacy, numeracy and personal development programmes. Speaking at the official handing over ceremony on May 1, State Minister for Local Government and Community Development, and Member of Parliament for South East St. Catherine, Hon. Colin Fagan, said the facility is part of the Government’s commitment to empower communities.
He said the facility represents a transformational approach to community development, which will impact their social and economic landscape.
He said this change will be realised through improvement in young people’s chances of employment, and opportunities for matriculating to higher education.
Mr. Fagan said the resource centre will provide a place for students to prepare for exams, and will also serve as a homework and skills centre, where persons will receive assistance with reading and communication skills, as well as mentorship and character building.
“Our young people and adults will now have a suitable place to study, while senior citizens will be exposed to the computer and will be able to communicate with loved ones via email or Skype,” he said.
He informed that the JFB will oversee the centre as part of its ongoing outreach programme.
Chief Executive Officer, USF, Hugh Cross noted that a total of 172 similar resource centres or community access points have been established across the island.
“The business of the Universal Service Fund is to ensure that every Jamaican resident has easy and reliable access to the information super highway. We want our people to have the tools of development and this centre is one such tool,” he stated.
Mr. Cross said the facility caters to all age groups, young and mature. He further encouraged senior citizens to utilise the centre and “not be intimidated by the computers”.
Acting Commissioner, JFB, Errol Mowatt noted that the Brigade is pleased to be involved in such a far-reaching project.
“The management and staff of the JFB believe that these are the kind of value-added services that will assist us to impact the communities in which we serve in a different way. It is a way of integrating ourselves a little more in the community outside of emergency responses and fire prevention,” he said.
Executive Director of the SDC, Dr. Dwayne Vernon said the centre was established with the objectives of increase literacy in the Waterford community and its surrounding areas; and improving the relationship between the JFB and the wider community.
Dr. Vernon noted that the staff of the SDC is committed to the success of the facility and that the agency will be doing all it can to support the citizens.
Waterford resident and President of the Portmore Sports Youth Club, Basil Taylor, told JIS News that he welcomed the facility, noting that it will improve the lives of residents and uplift community spirit.