Fri | Aug 7, 2020

Sagicor ‘SOUL’ Saving Our Underprivileged Lives’

Published:Sunday | October 13, 2019 | 12:00 AM
Steve Harvey gets animated as he pauses for a photo with the grant recipients recommended by Sarah’s Children and its founder, Janet Silvera (right). Recipients from left are: Peter Sinclair, Bryan Campbell, Textin Anderson, Melbourne Callam, and Kevin Ricketts.
American comedian and TV show host, Steve Harvey (second left) has the attention of Ronardo Nicholson (left) and Melbourne Callam, two of the Sagicor grant recipients. Looking on is Loeri Robinson, Sagicor’s Top Financial Advisor and director of the Sagicor Motivational Seminar charity committee.
President and CEO of Sagicor Group Jamaica, Christopher Zacca (left), presents Kevin Ricketts with his grant certificate.
Michelle Gordon, Founder of Our Sons shares in a photo-op with Steve Harvey and three of the grant recipients who are wards of the State.
Loeri Robinson, Sagicor’s top financial advisor and Sagicor Motivational Seminar charity director.

The lives of 10 young men were changed for the better recently when they received grants of $150,000 each from Sagicor Group Jamaica Motivational Seminar charity initiative – SOUL – ‘Saving Our Unprivileged Lives’, and having a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have lunch with American comedian and TV show host Steve Harvey.

Harvey was in Jamaica for the biennial Sagicor Motivational Seminar, which took place over three days at the Iberostar Hotel in Montego Bay and at the Montego Bay Convention Centre. Harvey, who was the closing speaker on the final day of the seminar, shared more personal one-on-one time with the young men at the special luncheon, where they got the opportunity to hear more about Harvey’s journey to success.

The young men, who are from less-than-favourable social and financial circumstances, are between the ages of 15 and 21 years old, most are from volatile communities, with limited resources to access a good education or employment. Three of the recipients are wards of the State and have never met any of their family members.

Damari’s story

One of the recipients of the grant, 19-year-old Damari Chambers, who is currently a waiter at a restaurant in Kingston, expressed his tremendous gratitude to Sagicor and Steve Harvey for the experience, while sharing the story of his struggles – getting expelled from high school, living on his own as a teenager, having a young daughter and taking on the role of breadwinner for his family, comprised of his mother and his three siblings. Chambers has five Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate subjects and has ambitions of serving his country as a soldier.

One may call it fate, as just weeks before the Sagicor motivational seminar, Chambers met Loeri Robinson, Sagicor Life top financial adviser and director of the charity initiative, at the restaurant where he works and he happened to be her server; Robinson, who is big on giving back, describes herself as an empath and said that she felt compelled to ask the young man about his life, hopes, and ambitions. That encounter has changed Damari’s life forever.

Robinson shared that she is hypersensitive to people’s energy and it really bothers her when people are hurting.

“If I can do my little part in making at least one hurting soul feel loved and cared for … then I am truly living my purpose on earth,” Robinson said.

The other young men were chosen through the Our Sons and Sarah’s Children charities.

Founder of Our Sons, Michelle Gordon, who is passionate about working with and developing displaced young men, said that the opportunity afforded to the 10 youngsters by Sagicor underscores the belief that these youngsters’ past does not define or shape their futures, and that they, too, like Steve Harvey, can rise above their circumstances and make meaningful contributions to society and make a great life for themselves.

“It is truly admirable to see corporate companies and individuals come together to make such a great impact on the lives of our youths.”

Janet Silvera, founder of Sarah’s Children, shared that her inspiration to start the charity was borne out of seeing the abuse meted out to young, underprivileged children and the elderly in Jamaica. Silvera also shared that one of her greatest influencers in giving back is her mom, Sarah, as she recalled how her mom would take in numerous children to live with them, even though they came from very humble beginnings.