Dave Lindo, Gleaner Writer
KIND HEARTS Limited is an organisation which has been touching the lives of people right across Jamaica through its charitable work. As a family, they have committed to give to the less fortunate in any way they possibly can.
The group consists of the grand-children of Richard and Diana Stewart, operators of Stewart's Automotive Group, who encouraged them to work together and get involved in giving back to the society.
"Our grandparents had their own foundation, the Richard and Diana Stewart Foundation, where they did a lot for charity," Christina Lechler, the group leader said. "They wanted us to do projects together because they said since we were doing family business, we had to learn to work together.
"So they thought that a charity would be a good starting point to do something together. So we created our own charity called Kind Hearts Limited," Christina told The Gleaner.
The foundation was formed by six grandchildren, with the oldest being Christina, who is 23 years old. The other members are Amanda Lechler 21, James Lechler 18, Richard Lechler 12, Timothy Stewart 22, and Stephanie Stewart 19.
"In 2009, we teamed up with a mission in Montego Bay called Youth With a Mission, and we built two houses for people in James,", Christina disclosed. "In July 2010, we partnered again with the same group and built two more houses."
The group then shifted its focus from building houses to constructing schools. As Christina explained, "I was approached by someone who suggested I partner with Food For The Poor, so they invited me to an opening at a school in May Pen that was done by some overseas group. From then, we decided that building schools would be doing more for the communities."
The group went on a drive to raise funds to build their first school and raised US$45,000. "It took us two years to raise the money. It wasn't easy, but we did it."
Their partner, Food For The Poor, was approached by the Manchester Chamber of Commerce to build a school in Greenvale, Mandeville. Kind Hearts decided it was the ideal place to build the first school. "We went down to Mandeville and participated in the actual building of the school. We were the first family as well as young people to actually partner with Food For The Poor in building a school."
The school was built in September and a very happy principal, Gloria Mckenzie, and her 30 students from the Greenvale community, moved into the newly built B. Frank Early Childhood Institution in October. The institution recently got electricity through the work of the Jamaica Public Service Company, led by president and CEO Kelly Tomblin.
As for the next project, the group is putting plans in place to build another basic school in Lluidas Vale, St Catherine. The basic school in question is currently being housed in a tiny room behind a church, "so we want to build a proper school for them beside the Top Hill Primary School", Christina said.
She said as a group, they felt good about giving back. "It's a good feeling giving back and seeing the appreciation," she said. "Why we moved on from houses to basic schools is that you help so many more people and you help an entire community for years and years to come."