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The Gleaner salutes excellence

Published:Friday | January 16, 2015 | 12:00 AM

First batch of 2014 Honour Awards recipients grateful for recognition

Livern Barrett, Gleaner Writer

IF YOU talk to Scarlette Gillings for a few minutes about the work of the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), one thing becomes evident and that's her passion for what she describes as the underserved or poorer communities across the island.

Gillings helped to get JSIF started in 1996 and served as its managing director for the 19 years it has been in existence, channelling more than $9.9 billion towards critical projects that have helped to enhance the quality of life for residents in these communities.

JSIF was established out of a recom-mendation from the World Bank to target poor and underserved communities.

According to Gillings, these communities are identified through a poverty map developed by the Planning Institute of Jamaica.

"We eyeball poor communities - and there are many very poor communities," she said yesterday after JSIF was named as this year's recipient of the Gleaner Honour Awards in the category of Public Service.

"It means a lot for the hard work of the staff and a lot for me because this is my final year at JSIF," added Gillings, who has already indicated that she will demit office in March.

The Gleaner Honour Awards are presented annually to individuals, companies and organisations whose initiative, accomplishment and courage have helped to improve the nation's quality of life, and chairman of The Gleaner Company Oliver Clarke, called JSIF one of the best-run entities "either in the public or the private sector".


Other awardees recognised during a luncheon at The Gleaner's downtown Kingston offices yesterday were the Jamaica Foundation for Lifelong Learning, which was lauded for its contribution to education, along with world boxing champion Nicholas 'The Axeman' Walters and record-setting swimmer Alia Atkinson, for their contribution in the sports arena.

Reflecting on her tenure, Gillings said there have been many success stories. One of the agency's greatest achievements, she said, is the way it has been able to get residents to be involved in projects that benefit their communities.

"We have a thing called community-based contracting, where [inner city] communities are given the funds, through the banks, to implement their own projects with great success. That, to me, is another great success story," she added.

For Walters, being honoured by The Gleaner Company was overwhelming.

"I never dreamed of getting an award like this. They say if you work hard, you can achieve a lot, and this award is for my hard work," he said.

Atkinson said her award would provide a major boost for swimming in Jamaica.

"It will encourage some of the younger ones to get into swimming, to keep up with swimming," she said.