Jamaican organization networks, raises funds


Caribbean songs played throughout Saturday night at De Island Breeze, a Caribbean restaurant and bar in Somerset, N.J., to fundraise for the Save Our Jamaica Foundation.

Save Our Jamaica is a networking organization that seeks to bind other Jamaican foundations into a tightly knit alliance, Chin said.

“Save Our Jamaica’s mission is to support organizations that are in a good position to positively impact the island of Jamaica and its people,” said Raxann Chin, the foundation’s founder and CEO. “I thought I would treat organizations how Wall Street treats corporations and look at them as a business.”

Chin said she began the organization after spending time in the hospital with appendicitis.

“I had a lethal form appendicitis, [I] was pretty much pronounced dead. I was hospitalized for over a month,” she said. “As I was a recipient of someone giving, this experience generated something in me. Now I want to be the giver.”

Chin said the foundation’s long-term goal is to have an annual benefit concert.

It would highlight the work of not only the Jonathan Hibbert Foundation, which gives Jamaican soccer players the opportunity to display their skills to colleges in the United States, among other Jamaican nonprofit organizations, she said.

“We’re in this together. We need to support each other. For every action you do, there is a reaction,” Chin said. “Jamaica is a small island with a very big voice.”

Some proceeds from the night went to the Jonathan Hibbert Foundation, which was established after Kevin Holmes, the foundation’s director, lost his colleague in a car accident.

“Never stop dreaming. A dream is a powerful thing to have, never let go of that dream,” Holmes said to the crowd. “Our foundation is built upon a dream. A dream holds our organization together. And have fun — always have fun.”

He said athletes in Jamaica would have trouble participating in college sports without his foundation’s help.

“We are the ones that have to bridge the gap between how students come abroad in Jamaica,” Holmes said. “We do not have SATs in Jamaica, so we’re looking to create a loophole, a bridge to cross that gap and allow our talented students an easier way to come abroad.”

Because the foundation is based in the United States, it is difficult to reach out to more than 300 high schools in Jamaica, Holmes said.

“It’s a slow but steady process. We want this event to show that education and sports can indeed work together for a common goal,” he said. “What I would love to do is get a scholarship program for students that are interested in sports management and business.”

Funds from the event will go toward the annual soccer cup competition on Jan. 7, which will display many talented Jamaican athletes, Holmes said.

The charity has awarded more than 300 scholarships in the past six years, he said.

“There are many guys at home who are talented soccer players, and the foundation is a gateway for those kids,” said Kriswayne Wallace, a personal friend of Holmes and a scholarship recipient in 2009.

Carlton Bharrat, owner of De Island Breeze, said combining the outreach of a fundraiser with the platform of a business can be a powerful thing and suggested that nonprofits align with businesses to support each other.

“I’m happy to do this. We as human beings don’t give enough,” Bharrat said. “Whether it’s an individual, family or a business, people need to start sharing. No matter where you are in life, there is someone worse off than you. So you need to do your part and help.”


By Adam Lowe

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