Sun | Dec 11, 2016

You cannot get frustrated, Danny Williams encourages volunteers

Published:Friday | September 26, 2014 | 12:00 AM
American Women's Group president Trefina Asiedu (left), welcomes R. Danny Williams, guest speaker to the luncheon as Rose Barnett looks on. Brian McCalla/Freelance Photographer
From left: Claudja Alexander, Tamara Hill and Maureen Sirju are in animated discussion at last Thursday's luncheon meeting of the American Women's Group, held at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel along Waterloo Road. Brian McCalla/Freelance Photographer
From left: Esther Harris-Brown engages Trefina Asiedu as Jan Harmon shares the moment.
From left: Ena Collymore-Woodstock and Rose Barnett are obviously amused by what has caught their attention.
From left: Esther Harris-Brown, Trefina Asiedu and Jan Harmon pose for the camera.
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Barbara Ellington, Public Affairs Editor

R. DANNY Williams has encouraged the membership of the American Women's Group (AWG) to continue its work on behalf of the less fortunate in Jamaica. He was addressing last Thursday's luncheon meeting at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel in St Andrew, where he told several of his personal stories of a life of volunteerism. He sought to explain why volunteerism is vital to the lives of those who receive their much-needed help. These include a girl who got a scholarship for high school but couldn't afford to go. With help from his associates, she is currently a medical student in university.

Admitting that he, like many voluntary organisations, was sometimes frustrated by the process, he reminded them that they cannot fire volunteers because even the most uncooperative ones are also giving their time and resources freely. "The work is hard, but you can't fire them because you need them for the occasional things they do, as most of the work is usually done by a few," Williams said.

But he revealed that when he feels frustrated, he is encouraged and invigorated by his daily observations of children who couldn't attend university and parents who couldn't afford it, save for the work he and others find the resources to do. Williams' more that 60 years of volunteerism began with the Lister Mair/Gilby School for the Deaf, but he has also worked tirelessly with the Jamaica Association for the Deaf, Jamaica Association for Lifelong Learning (formerly JAMAL), the Junior Chamber, Tony Thwaites Wing and more.

Moral decay

But for the past nine years, the Sagicor chairman has been thrust into the limelight because of his heavy involvement with his alma mater Jamaica College (JC). He said there is much poverty in Jamaica leading to moral decay because children are suffering through no fault of their own.

"Unless the AWG and other voluntary organisations do what you do, God knows what would happen; your work is critical to their success,"Williams said. He told the women that in 2005, when he began his work with JC, the campus was in a state of disrepair. It needed a good fixing up. But his greatest shock came from seeing the needs of the boys.

"Hundreds of them had no lunch money, bus fare, school shoes. Many left home without breakfast. They walked to Half-Way Tree in the hot sun daily, and others had one uniform that had to be washed overnight so they could wear it the next day. Others did odd jobs to help out their families," he revealed.

Williams said many that times a bursary worth $20,000 or $30,000 that is given to a student makes a world of difference, as some of them cannot even afford to pay exam fees and then they fall through the cracks. He said today, he and others are proud to see where JC has reached. "The boys are courteous, discipline has improved, they wear their ties with pride and it is a different school all together, "Williams gushed with very obvious pride.

Today, Williams receives regular calls from other principals and past students' associations wanting to know how to replicate the JC success story and this reinforces the fact that such work is vital to the future of our nation. "Don't stop what you are doing, don't lose faith; it is important work. If someone did not care for us, we wouldn't be here today," Williams said.

barbara.ellington@gleanerjm.com