Wed | Oct 21, 2020

Salem Basic School benefits from Sober Vacations, Jewel Paradise Cove partnership

Published:Monday | April 1, 2019 | 12:10 AMCarl Gilchrist/Gleaner Writer
A volunteer from Sober Vacations International paints a gate at Salem Basic School.
A volunteer from Sober Vacations International paints a gate at Salem Basic School.

Salem Basic School in Runaway Bay, St Ann, got a much-needed facelift and several school items recently thanks to a partnership between California, USA-based Sober Vacations International and Jewel Paradise Cove Resort.

According to Lisa Gastaldo, director, client relations and marketing at Sober Vacations, the group usually does a complete buyout of a resort host a sober village, which is an alcohol-free vacation for people in recovery.

“Part of our mission is that every time we go down to a new community, we like to do a day of service in that community that has been so graciously welcoming to us,” Gastaldo explained.

This year, for the first time, they chose Jamaica, with Jewel Paradise Cove being the preferred hotel.

Guided by the hotel’s general manager, Barbara Burton, the group decided to focus on Salem Basic School, located in the same community as the hotel.From the group of almost 400 people at the sober village, 60 turned out to volunteer a day’s work to benefit the kids, assisted by some hotel staff.

They refreshed the playground, painted a mural on the front of the building, spruced up the bathroom, planted a vegetable garden, fixed the gate, painted furniture and handed over 1,300 pieces of school items, with funding coming from money solicited for the purpose of giving to the community.

“It is our hope that some of the extra funds will go to purchasing a copier for the students and possibly some playground equipment and hopefully some back windows because they have exposed holes in the wall in the back,” Gastaldo pointed out.

Exceeded expectations

She said that the entire episode was wonderful and, in fact, exceeded their expectations.

According to Gastaldo: “The locals and the staff have been so gracious and so accommodating and so attentive to any of our needs and anticipating our needs and completely exceeding our expectations. It’s our first time at Jewel Resort, and we could not be happier. Our clients keep coming up and telling us how wonderful it is. Miss Barbara (Burton) has been fabulous.”

And according to Burton, it was a wonderful partnership between the two entities that resulted in the children benefiting.

“We are absolutely thrilled,” Burton said. “We are amazed at the outpouring of hands and hearts and just the giving back to the community, so we are really privileged to be associated with Sober Vacations International. It’s really amazing work they’re doing, and they’re influencing and blessing so many lives, and we’re very, very privileged. They’re a group of wonderful people who are making positive changes in the world.”

School representatives were delighted with the attention given and thanked both Sober Vacations and Jewel Paradise Cove.