Three Jamaicans have been named CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank Unsung Heroes for their contributions to helping others and building their communities. At an awards ceremony at the Wyndham Kingston Hotel on October 11, the bank presented awards and cash prizes to the three 'heroes'.
Begun in 2003, the CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank Unsung Heroes awards programme rewards philanthropic efforts of "ordinary people - who have not been acknowledged on a national level and are virtually unknown to the wider public". The competition is run in the 17 countries served by the bank, and national awardees are also eligible for the regional CIBC FirstCaribbean Unsung Heroes award and cash prize.
CIBC FirstCaribbean Managing Director Nigel Holness lauded the 'heroes' for helping to improve the circumstances of people and communities in Jamaica and said that the bank was pleased to join them and others in serving Jamaica and the Caribbean.
2012 CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank awardees include self-styled volunteer teacher Jacqueline Cooper who offers free classes in her community where many dropouts and unemployed youth have now earned passes in the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) and attest to "new-found pride, self-worth, positive outlook and increased discipline".
Cooper started with a class of six students and, at its peak, tutors over 29, including CXC and Grade Six Achievement Test students. She also teaches remedial reading to young and old and imparts her knowledge as a nurse and diabetic to others with the disease.
Another 2012 Unsung Hero, Winston 'Sparrow' Martin, has dedicated more than two decades to "giving back" to the Alpha Boys' Home and helping boys from challenging circumstances to achieve their full potential through music.
A product of Alpha and a trained musician, he has helped launch a number of music careers, and many former residents of Alpha are now earning as musicians in Jamaica and abroad.
He organised a group of former residents into a band which he helps market and also teaches music in rural communities and churches on an ongoing basis. Over 300 boys have benefitted from his support.
The third CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank Unsung Hero, Dr Beverly Scott, is the founder of the Montego Bay-based Family & Parenting Centre which is credited with helping to substantially reduce the number of children from the parish of St James entering places of safety.
Centre personnel do interventions at schools, in community groups, homes and the workplace in a bid to reduce child delinquency and Dr Scott has instituted a multi-agency approach to parenting, working with government agencies to reduce delinquency.
Since 2000, she has counselled over 2,600 children suffering from trauma, suicidal tendencies, and childhood disorders; conducted therapy sessions with over 900 families, and produced and distributed over 5,300 handbooks to parents, guidance counsellors, education officers and heads of the guidance and counselling units of teachers' colleges.