Windsor Road, St. Catherine – July 25, 2013: American single-mother of four, Barbara Gilbert, has been an extraordinary friend of Jamaica. This week she, her family and friends are in the island feeding the homeless, and have also helped to construct a Computer Laboratory and perimeter fence at The Celebration of Life Ar-Rahman Kindergarten, Windsor Road, Spanish Town.
This is not the first time that this philanthropist is touching the lives of Jamaicans - she raised funds for 15 houses in 'Barbara's Village' in Bernard Lodge several years ago. In July 2011, Food For The Poor built the new school through donations from Ms. Gilbert. She also participated in the construction of the school. Ms. Gilbert and her family have given ongoing support to the institution through the donation of educational supplies.
This week's trip to the island by Ms. Gilbert is part of her annual 'pilgrimage' to Jamaica to assist the less fortunate.
The new Computer Lab built by FFP will benefit 31 students, their teachers and members of the Windsor and Hill Run communities. Today, FFP also equipped the Lab with N-Computing Kits.
Barbara's son, Steven Walker, has played a pivotal role in the construction of the Computer Lab. From the diligent fundraising efforts of Ms. Gilbert, since 2006, FFP has built over 85 houses for poor Jamaicans. In that year, the first set of houses constructed, were officially named "Barbara's Village", in her honour. Ms. Gilbert has also financed the development of a football field in the Ellerslie Pen area of Spanish Town.
Nathalie Carlisle, Vice President, Major Giving, FFP Inc. lauded Ms. Gilbert. She pointed out that most of the people who contribute to the Food For The Poor Projects are not rich, but are working class people like Barbara Gilbert, who are struggling to make a living. Ms. Carlisle urged the children to excel as their way of showing appreciation to the donors.
Ms. Gilbert who was the Keynote Speaker at Thursday's Dedication Ceremony affirmed her commitment to continue to help the poorest of the poor in Jamaica. Pointing out that although she has no biological family in Jamaica, she gets fulfilment and great joy by helping to improve the lives of Jamaicans. "I love you and that's why I continue to do the things I do – you are my family! I have a giant family in Jamaica," declared Ms. Gilbert. She announced that one of the latest initiatives she is implementing in Jamaica is a music project, in which she and her friends donates musical instruments to FFP Jamaica, for the musical training of children from inner-city areas, including Barbara's Village. Ms. Gilbert has named that initiative the "Jeff Band Project" in honour of visually challenged musician and cancer survivor, Jeff Meadowell, who is helping the less fortunate on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. He has also donated some of the instruments to the "Jeff Band Project" for Jamaica and Guyana.
Steven Walker, who is a computer whiz and in whose honour the Computer Lab was named, implored the children to follow their dreams. Steven who is physically challenged, pointed out that he knew through experience that the possibilities are endless in what you can achieve: "There are no boundaries to what you can achieve in this world."
Among the speakers at today's event were: FFPJ Executive Director Jacqueline Johnson, Father Paul Wilderotter, and Wardah HoSang Millerdean, Principal, Celebration of Life Ar-Rahman Kindergarten. She thanked donors and disclosed that the community would be able to benefit from the Computer Centre for their homework and Internet needs. Entertainment was provided by the students of the Ar-Rahman Kindergarten and the youngsters from the Food For The Poor Summer Band Camp (which includes children from "Barbara's Village").
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. 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 95% of all donations going directly to programmes that help the poor. For more information visit our Web site at www.foodforthepoorja.com
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