New York group raises US$250,000 for Negril school
Inside Joe's Pub in Lower Manhattan last Wednesday night, the ambience mirrored a New Year's Eve celebration. The medium-size party space was filled with hundreds of well-dressed revelers, enthusiastically sharing stories of their travels to Negril, Jamaica.
Some had been visiting the Rockhouse, a picturesque and trendy boutique resort in Negril's west end, for decades. Others were new recruits. Based on their stories, they were all ecstatic about Jamaica and their love for the island.
There was a profound sense of purpose in the room with everyone there to contribute generously to the annual Rockhouse Foundation fundraiser that has already invested US$3 million in improving education for Negril's young people.
The night's event netted almost US$250,000, in under three hours, through auctions and donations.
Peter Rose, president of the foundation, pointed out that its primary mission for the next year is to build a special-needs school in the Negril area.
"Through this funding, work will begin shortly on the first special needs early childhood school in the area," Rose told the gathering. "The school will be a unique centre of excellence for regular learners and for children with special needs, and it will also be a centre for training parents and teachers in assessing and managing students across the spectrum of special needs," he added.
Paul Salmon, chairman and co-founder of the foundation, highlighted the fact that every cent raised for the event will go directly to the children of the Negril area, with no administrative deductions.
The school, to be called the Torrington Inclusive Infant Academy, is expected to open in September 2016. It is being established in partnership with the Ministry of Education and the Early Childhood Commission in Jamaica. The organisation will underwrite and maintain the facilities. Staffing will be provided by the partners of the programme.
Through its ongoing work in recent years, the foundation has also transformed five schools in the area - Moreland Hill Primary and Infant School, Negril All-Age School, Negril Basic School, Little Bay All-Age and Infant School and Bunch of Stars Early Childhood Institution - and it has also renovated and expanded the Negril Community Library.