Wed | Oct 18, 2017

Friends continue to give back to the Hills

Published:Tuesday | September 19, 2017 | 12:05 AMSyrannno Baines
Sabrina Ward, student of the Red Hills Primary School, recites a poem during the Friends of the Hills and the Red Hills All-Age Past Students Association (PSA) awards presentation at the school last week.

Fifteen years into its existence and the New York, United States-based Friends of the Hills Association (FHA), now more than ever, is answering the many calls for help from students and seniors alike within the Red Hills community in St Andrew.

The latest visit of FHA to the island has seen more than US$11, 000 being spent on books, existing and new scholarships for students, and the senior centre in Red Hills.

Conceptualised in 2002 by Jamaicans residing in the United States, Friends of the Hills is a non-profit organisation geared towards developing the Red Hills area, primarily through investment in education.

"Through socialising back then, we decided that we must give back to the country of our birth, Red Hills in particular, where we all come from. So, we started out by gathering clothes, books and a few computers, and packing barrels and sending them for persons to distribute in the area," President of FHA Verna Moodie told The Gleaner last Wednesday during an award ceremony at the Red Hills Primary School, where four new secondary-level scholarships, each valued at US$500 per year, were issued.

Along with her husband Donald, Moodie attended the Red Hills All-Age, prior to migrating to New York.

 

Desire to expand

 

She further explained how the desire to expand beyond Red Hills saw the FHA reaching out to Padmore Primary, basics schools and a senior centre to lend assistance.

"When I came on board as president around six years ago, I decided that we have to get a liaison person here in the area, so I contacted Aston Reece (president of the Red Hills All-Age School Past Students' Association) and he agreed to be our contact person. We would then put the money together and send him a cheque to get the books for grades one to six before the new school year," outlined Moodie.

"The seniors had a stove with one burner and a non-functional fridge, so we provided them with a refrigerator and grilled the building to secure it."

While underscoring that projects are currently funded by its members, some of whom are retirees, Moodie said that going forward, she would enlist overseas sponsorship.

She said: "We have a great thing going on here and we would love to expand in many ways, because we do believe education is the key to unlocking success."