JIS News

A new community centre has been opened to facilitate activities of the Treasure Beach Women’s Group Benevolent Society in South Western St. Elizabeth.
“This is one of the first women’s group that I established after returning from Canada to Jamaica and over the years, they have grown significantly from a few to many and now today they have this wonderful building..I am proud of this initiative and the women of this area of St. Elizabeth,” Executive Director of the Bureau of Women’s Affairs, Dr. Glenda Simms said at the opening recently.
She emphasised the importance of women in Jamaica becoming organised, so as to achieve laudable long, medium and short term goals as dictated by the needs of the communities in which they lived.
Dr. Simms said it was her hope that the new centre would turn out to be more than just another pretty building.
“I told the ladies of the women’s group that it must be a place where young women can actually find themselves, where middle-aged women can share their experiences and where older women can be validated.It should also be a place where men can come in and listen to the discussion and share their experiences, so as to help in the process of building better relationships,” she said.
Dr. Simms emphasised that for positive transformation to come about in modern Jamaica, women had to make the choice to become change agents.
The Executive Director thanked the many organisations that had partnered with the Society to help build the centre.
“Of course the Bureau gave some subvention but we have to make mention of the Treasure Beach Foundation (BREDS), United Way, Jakes Hotel through Jason Henzell, American Peace Corps, various Churches, and the United States Agency for International Development (US).It has really been a community initiative,” she said.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of United Way of Jamaica, Winsome Wilkins told JIS News that the centre was funded though its hurricane restoration fund.
“After Hurricane Ivan last year, we knew that we had to do something for areas that were devastated and based on the nature of the good relationship that we have had with the people of Treasure Beach.we had no difficulty lending support because we have worked with leaders from the area,” she said.
Miss Wilkins said that many other communities needed to follow the example set by the people of the Treasure Beach area.
“Today, looking that this almost fully operational centre, I am excited as it speaks to me about the power of community, people wanting something and are willing to work for it. I must commend the women of Treasure Beach pooling their resources, tapping into all the help that is available, either here or overseas. This is a clear indication of volunteerism at its best,” she said.
For her part, Patti Shannon, United States Peace Corps volunteer assigned to the Society spoke of her relationship with the organisation.
“From August of 2003 I have work alongside these women and I think that the opening of this facility is certainly a wonderful way to end my tour of duty,” she said.
Mrs. Shannon pointed out that the women of the group, even after the hurricane devastation and loss of their original base of operations, did not lose heart, but decided to rebuild from the “ashes”.
“We wanted to build a solid structure.The centre we have today has the largest meeting room in this community, a craft shop, two medical examination rooms for visiting doctors, bathrooms, a conference room to be used for counselling or adult literacy, and a large kitchen, which can be the base of a special soup feeding programme for the less fortunate members of Treasure Beach,” she said.
Mrs. Shannon had high praise for the members of the group. “They have been wonderful right from my arrival,” she said.

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