(From left) Lisa Hanna, Member of Parliament for South Eastern St. Ann, and Minister of Youth and Culture; Jeff Levitetz, President/Director, Levitetz Family Foundation; Mitsie Richards, Principal, Steerfield Basic School; Jacqueline Johnson, Executive Director, Food For The Poor; are all smiles as they participate in one of two ribbon cutting exercises at the official opening of the Steerfield Basic School. The event took place on Wednesday May 15. The school was built by Food For The Poor under its Jamaica 50 Programme and financed by the Levitetz Family Foundation. The FFP Jamaica 50 Programme is aimed at building and /or upgrading 50 early childhood educational institutions in 50 months, in celebration of Jamaica's 50th year of Independence.
Steerfield, St. Ann - May 15, 2013:Food For The Poor (FFP) Jamaica today handed over a smart new home to the Steerfield Basic School in St. Ann, bringing an end to the school's 12 years of being in sub-standard learning conditions. This is the first early childhood educational institution to be built in the parish under the FFP Jamaica 50 Programme, which seeks to build and upgrade 50 basic schools islandwide, in commemoration of Jamaica's fiftieth anniversary of Independence. The gift provides much needed facilities for a school community, which had been struggling for years to serve its children in unsuitable quarters at the Steerfield Community Centre.
The Steerfield Basic School is the tenth early childhood educational institution to be constructed / upgraded under the FFP Jamaica 50 Programme.
Addressing participants at today's official opening of the new building, Jacqueline Johnson, Executive Director, FFP Jamaica declared, "The Jamaica 50 Programme is an exciting and far reaching initiative that is dear to the hearts of all of us at Food For The Poor. It is our very special way of celebrating Jamaica's Golden Jubilee, by building and/or upgrading 50 early childhood educational institutions in 50 months."
Mrs. Johnson explained that it is the charity's passionate belief that every Jamaican child deserves the opportunity to gain quality education from the very earliest stage in his or her learning career. She added, "We are also deeply committed to the principle that this quality education should be easy to access. We contend that the facilities housing these learning opportunities should be safe, comfortable, hygienic, and pleasant. They should enhance teaching and learning rather than making it any more challenging than it needs to be."
The FFP Jamaica Executive Director expressed appreciation to all those who have been supporting the Jamaica 50 initiative, making special mention of Jeff Levitetz, President/Director of the Levitetz Family Foundation of the United States, Donors for the new Steerfield Basic School. She also noted that Food For The Poor had a proud history of significant support to the Jamaican education system.
"Apart from the Jamaica 50 Programme," Mrs. Johnson pointed out, "Since 2006, we have built 51 basic schools across the island. Our charity has also supplied many schools with furniture. In addition, we donate cash grants to needy students, on an ongoing basis, to cover the cost of tuition and books."
The 30 children, three to six years old, currently enrolled at the Steerfield Basic School will be enjoying three beautifully decorated classrooms with cheerful, child-friendly furniture. The new school building also features a kitchen, bathroom facilities, office, sickbay and veranda. The FFP team merged four single units, on a strong concrete foundation, to produce this structure.
Hon. Lisa Hanna, Member of Parliament for South Eastern St. Ann, and Minister of Youth and Culture commended the community and Food For The Poor for their partnership in making the school a reality. She announced that she would be providing the school with a computer to serve as a valuable learning tool for the children. She also shared that she will be spearheading the beautification of the Steerfield Community Centre on Labour Day, which will be painted in the same colours as the new Basic School, situated on the same compound.
Addressing today's Official Opening Ceremony, Mitsie Richards, Principal, explained that for many years the school had to use the facilities at the Community Centre, which were not a suitable learning environment for the small ones. "It was out of desperation and acute frustration that we went to Food For The Poor for assistance," revealed Ms. Richards.
Expressing appreciation for the new school, she declared, "Today we have a school that we can be proud of. We are truly grateful to Food For the Poor."
Jeff Levitetz, Keynote Speaker and Donor, expressed elation that his Levitetz Family Foundation could be involved in constructing a child-friendly institution for the pre-schoolers of Steerfield. Noting, "It's an amazing thing to be a part of this effort", Mr. Levitetz pointed out that the school was built in honour of his late grandfather, "Grand Pa Charlie", who had vacationed in St. Ann and fallen in love with Jamaica. He commended Food For The Poor stating, " the tireless effort they put into the construction."
Among those delivering remarks were Hon. Radcliffe Walters, Custos of St. Ann; Maxine Headlam, Regional Director, Region 3, Ministry of Education; Lattimar Coombs, Senior Development Officer, Early Childhood Commission; Lambert Weir, Councillor, Claremont Division; and Clifford Folkes, Steerfield Basic School Board Chairman .The Very Reverend Fr. Burchell McPherson, Board Member, FFP Inc., blessed and dedicated the new building. The Basic School students entertained with cultural items.
Food For The Poor (FFP) -Jamaica is the largest charity organization in the country. Food For The Poor Inc., located in Florida, USA, was named by The Chronicle of Philanthropy as the largest international relief and development organization in the United States. It is an interdenominational Christian agency that does much more than feed the millions of hungry poor in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America.
FFP provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicines, educational materials, homes, support for orphans and the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance, with more than 96% of all donations going directly to programmes that help the poor. For more information visit our website at www.foodforthepoorja.com
Erica James-King, PROComm, T: 926-6740 or 564-5277
Petri-Ann Henry, Food For The Poor, T: 984-5005 or 564-2886
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