Saundra Bailey (fifth left), chief operating officer of CGM Gallagher Jamaica presents Kayon (second right) and her father Alva Brown (right) with the keys to their new home. Sharing in the moment are (from left) Marsha Burrell, development and marketing manager at Food For The Poor; Donna Evelyn, CG Gallagher Jamaica HR administrator; Marion Wizzard-Marriott, marketing specialist and Mureen Thomas, managing director.
EIGHTY- two-year-old Alva Brown sat with a smile on his face and watched as Food For The Poor (FFP) workers constructed his new home in Steer Town, St Ann. After years of living in a badly deteriorated house the elderly man and his daughter Kayon were happy to finally have a comfortable dwelling.
Brown could not hide his joy as he constantly expressed appreciation to the sponsors of his home CGM Gallagher Insurance Brokers Jamaica and FFP.
“I am really happy wid it. I am really glad to know you could find someone to do this for me,” said Brown. “I hope unuh live forever to do this for others,” he said while expressing his gratitude repeatedly.
Kayon, who is the caregiver for her elderly dad, also expressed gratitude to CGM Gallagher and FFP as she told the Jamaica Observer North East she was happy for the goodwill as the house they lived in previously was in a very deplorable condition.
“The condition never proper,” she said.
The family received the house through the Food For the Poor 5k initiative in partnership with corporate Jamaica which raised $46 million to build over 50 houses.
“This is part of our 5k initiative which was held earlier this year with an aim to build awareness and to get corporate companies to partner with us to provide homes for the less fortunate,” Marsha Burrell, development and marketing manager of FFP explained. She said CGM Gallagher was one of the donors and they travelled with the charity organisation to Steer Town to join in the building and handing over of the home.
Burrell explained that the family was chosen from a database of persons who are on the waiting list.
With many people still waiting to get houses, Burrell said the local charity was hoping more local donors will support the initiative.
“We are on a drive to engage local donors to come on board to build more houses,” she said, adding that there is a desperate need for housing in Jamaica.
She added that FFP was changing the lives of many people by giving them a home. Also, Burrell said that people were not just given a home, but that the FFP also introduced families to entrepreneurship in order to aid them in bettering their lives.
“We don’t just give them a home and leave them like that but we try as best as possible to provide further assistance that will help to empower the family because we are all about changing lives and restoring families,” she said.
CGM Gallagher Insurance Brokers employees were excited to participate in the venture.
“We were very excited that we were asked to provide housing for a family,” Saundra Bailey, chief operating officer said.
She explained that CGM Gallagher has been operating in Jamaica for 44 years and always participated in community projects as part of its corporate duties to give back to the community.
The team, she said, was also happy to be on location to participate in the construction of the home which she described as ‘a labour of love’.
“It’s not just a house, but a home for a family. It takes away worry that there is no shelter… it’s projects like these which give us the most joy,” she said.
Bailey said she was grateful that FFP reached out to the organisation.
“Many organisations are willing to help, but don’t know how, so it is important for organisations like Food For The Poor to reach out,” she continued.
Mureen Thomas, managing director of CG Gallagher Jamaica said participating in the project was really an eye-opener.
“We are not just office people; we will get out and help people when necessary,” she said.
Thomas said being present for the construction of the house also makes a big difference as it was a learning experience for her team. She also expressed surprise that the house, which included two bedrooms, a bathroom, kitchenette and a patio, was built within five hours.
The company, she said, was not doing it for the publicity, but being able to help a family in need was rewarding.