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Hanover Charities seeks to develop parish

Published:Monday | February 18, 2019 | 2:09 AM


What started as a small barbecue with old friends to raise money for the people of the parish once called ‘Cinderella’ is now one of Jamaica’s largest home-grown charitable organisations.

Hanover Charities (HC), as its name suggests, is focused on the people of the western parish.

Apart from a few large private donations, its main source of funds is from a week of social events held annually during the second week of February to coincide with the United States’ President’s Day public holiday.

Last year, the charity raised US$660,000, about J$82 million, for ongoing community-development work in the parish.

Steady growth

Hanover Charities has grown steadily since its inception, but especially in the last 15 years under the steady hand, dedication and hard work of its chair, Katrin Casserly, and vice-chair, Jennifer Flanagan.

HC’s mission statement, to improve the health, welfare and education of the people of Hanover, is truly what drives this organisation which staffed by volunteers.

In fact, the HC funded projects are multifaceted.

In 2018, more than 170 of Hanover’s best performing students were awarded tertiary scholarships from the HC Morris-Watkins scholarship fund, covering courses such as education, medicine, law and agriculture, “ensuring our young people get the chances they deserve”, said Casserly.

Early-childhood education and elementary students are among the areas of focus for the charity.

“HC sponsors feeding programmes to make sure the children have a least one good meal a day, builds computer rooms, bathrooms, and buys school furniture. HC also sponsors a proper reading room for juniors and homework space in the Hanover Parish Library,” she explained.

And HC spans all ages. It supports the Lucea Infirmary and, once per week, provides lunch for more than 700 citizens at the Kitchen of Love, also located in Lucea.

The organisation also awards special grants to organisations, such as the Westhaven Home for Disabled Children, and sponsors the annual Hanover Health Fair, organised by the Jacyees.

Involvement in sports and community development

HC’s biggest and largest project to date has been the Hopewell Sports and Community Centre. A football field, which was an eyesore, and a bleachers stand in desrepair, have been transformed into a brand new building with social facilities such as a meeting and entertainment hall, a commercial kitchen, changing rooms with working bathrooms; offices and a computer and homework room, says the organisation.

The charity will also be working with the community to provide marketing and sales skills to residents so that the complex can be self-sufficient and managed and maintained by the community.

The Lennox Lewis Boxing Gym and School will be opened at the sports complex this year to not only train boxers, but to engage young people meaningfully.