Thu | Sep 21, 2017

Simone4children Foundation needs base

Published:Monday | February 8, 2016 | 2:00 AMLivingston Scott
Edwards

JAMAICA'S former Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) star, Simone Edwards, says the future of her Simone4Children Foun-dation's homework programme and study centre, based in Hermitage, August Town, currently hangs in the balance.

The centre, which opened in 2010 and offered homework programmes to inner-city children, along with a host of other community activities, was vandalised by criminal elements and is presently not in use.

However, the Escarpment Road Church saw the Foun-dation's plight, and the pastor - at the time - gave the former national player and coach his blessings to continue the programme at the place of worship.

However, a change of pastor at the church recently has seen a new plan and Edwards' search for a new base for the programme.

"In Hermitage, I got a building put up there for the homework programme. It was running and everyone was working. It's a place where we had our homework programme, fed families, gave back-to-school supplies, tried to create scholarships and focused on self-esteem building. But what we do is mostly focus on education, but now it (building) is damaged," said Edwards.

"Last year, I went down there, and some of the bad men broke the lock off the door, stole furniture, the stove and damaged the windows. The homework programme is continuing in the church, but the last I heard is that the new pastor wanted it off the property," she told The Gleaner.

Edwards, who described cutting the ribbons to open the study centre as 'one of the proudest moments in my life', said since the migration of the programme's overseer, Dean Rhoden, a few years ago, things just went downhill.

PARKING LOT

She revealed that the reason for their eviction is related to plans to convert the building which housed the study centre into a parking lot, but admitted she is still seeking a meeting with the pastor.

"I am hoping they have a change of heart, so we are waiting to see if they are really going to do that. I don't know where else to move it to, as the pastor before told us it was OK for it to be there," Edwards lamented.

"But I haven't spoken to anybody as yet, so I don't know what we are going to do. I was trying to have a meeting with the pastor. So I am going to see the pastor, but if he tells me I have to move, then I will try to find a good place to do my programme and have it permanent instead of running up and down," she insisted, noting that the original building would be ideal.

"I like where it is because it's easier access. At the top (of community) was convenient, so I guess I will have to talk to the people in the community to get guarantees that no one can touch it," she added.

The Simone4children Foun-dation was formed in 2006 to assist the less fortunate, build worthwhile citizens and help others achieve their goals. Her Foundation established the computerised study centre in December 2010. It held treats, fed hundreds of persons and gave gifts to children.

She also copped the 2010 AD Astra Award, delivered by the Immaculate Conception High School's New York Chapter to Jamaicans who have excelled in their field over a period of time.