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Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound for Falmouth

Published:Wednesday | March 10, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Laura Redpath,
Senior Staff Reporter

The ongoing restoration of Falmouth heritage buildings will get two extra hands on deck this June, with the help of funding from a US$7-million donation.

The late Grace Groner, who is also referred to as 'Amazing Grace', left the millions for Lake Forest College in Chicago. The money will go towards scholarship funding for students pursuing studies abroad or overseas internships, including two students who will be working on the Falmouth restoration project.

According to William Marlatt, president of the Falmouth Heritage Renewal, every year two students arrive at a field school in Trelawny, where they assist with restoring heritage sites.

"We restored a post office in Falmouth. It is one of the earliest post offices in the world," Marlatt said.

Typically, students from the Lake Forest College and the University of Virginia spend a month in Falmouth, developing carpentry and other infrastructural development skills.

Aside from improving skills and being part of an overseas study initiative, Marlatt said the reason for the consistent partnership between the Falmouth Heritage Renewal and Lake Forest students over the past couple of years is the Jamaican people.

"It is the impact of the Jamaican culture, the hospitality, kindness, appreciation and welcome provided by Jamaicans to these students that underscored and reinforced Ms Groner's commitment to provide help for future students."

Groner had "fond memories" of her visit to Jamaica many years ago, and, according to Marlatt, two students, Erin McGinley and Steve Yena, inspired Groner to leave the fortune to Lake Forest.

In a testimonial to his Jamaican experience, Yena said: "If you ask me what impacted me the most from studying abroad in Jamaica, it would have to be the people.

"The lifelong friendships I made with the other students, experiencing a completely different culture and the difference we made in the lives of the Jamaican people, will impact me forever."