Sat | Dec 16, 2017

New-York Based Jamaican charity COJO benefits from airline’s philanthropic spirit - Island remains among favourite destinations for JetBlue passengers

Published:Monday | October 16, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Icema Gibbs
Gary Williams (centre), founder and chairman of Children of Jamaica Outreach (COJO), poses with 2017 scholarship awardees (back, left to right) Nickorta Samuels and Aaron Rowe and (front, left to right) Golda-Mae Bullock, Shantanna Dixon, Chantell Campbell and Kareem Carr. JetBlue is a sponsor of COJO’s initiatives.
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It is no coincidence that the New York-based non-profit Children of Jamaica Outreach (COJO) Inc has enjoyed the partnership support of JetBlue Airways for more than a decade, as the airline and charity share a culture of giving.

Long before the airline began flying to Jamaica, COJO has been a beneficiary of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives.

That investment has paid huge dividends and Jamaica is a favourite destination for JetBlue passengers, with the Caribbean and Latin America region now accounting for approximately one-third of the airline's network, according to Icema Gibbs, director of CSR at JetBlue.

Gibbs noted that the airline, which began service to Montego Bay, St James, in 2009 and later that year added Kingston, is now "the largest airline to fly from and within the Caribbean".

Currently providing daily service to Montego Bay and to Kingston from New York City, Gibbs said that "when you think of an exotic Caribbean vacation, you think of beautiful beaches and delicious cuisines, and Jamaica offers all this and more".

JetBlue helping to keep Jamaica beautiful

Icema Gibbs, JetBlue airline's director of corporate social responsibility (CSR), says her company is committed to helping to preserve Jamaica's beauty.

The airline has worked with the United States Fish & Wildlife Service to start dialogue about responsible tourism and educating travellers about how to "buy informed" and travel smart to the Caribbean.

JetBlue produced public service announcements featuring local Caribbean conservation heroes to arm travellers with the right questions to ask when purchasing wildlife and plant-related products like coral and shells.

In Jamaica, airline representatives met with Wolde Kristos, founder of the Bluefields Bay Fishermen's Friendly Society, which focuses on sustainable fishing practices and coral reef cleaning.

 

Supportor of local causes

 

JetBlue also supports local causes which benefit Jamaicans. The airline is a sponsor of a number of initiatives in the diaspora, including the New York-based non-profit organisation dedicated to improving the health, education and general well-being of underprivileged children on the island - Children of Jamaica Outreach (COJO) - which last month presented scholarships valued at over US$20,000 to six former wards of the State to pursue tertiary studies.

Gibbs said: "We are excited to continue our support for COJO. Giving back is part of JetBlue's DNA and is core to our mission of inspiring humanity. We focus our efforts on the areas that are most important to our customers and crew members - community, youth/education and the environment. Our support for education focuses on providing access and opportunity to those who are traditionally underserved or overlooked."

JetBlue, she said, is "committed to helping to provide better educational opportunities for deserving children in Jamaica".