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Citizen-led organisation offers help to Portland communities

Published:Saturday | June 2, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Sefton Lindsay

Gareth Davis, Gleaner Writer

PORT ANTONIO, Portland:

THE DESIRE to assist the needy was what encouraged Sefton Lindsay to form the Citizens United Network Association (CUNA) in Portland, which provides assistance to residents and schools.

Lindsay, along with a colleague, Stephanie Sullivan, formed CUNA in January of this year. Since then, it has attracted a membership of approximately 70 persons - primarily in the Rio Grande Valley of the parish.

"I am from the Rio Grande Valley. And as a result, our efforts are aimed at assisting communities in the Rio Grande Valley. Our aim is also to spread out in communities across Jamaica, and by extension, some parts of the United States. We need a platform to build on, and that is the reason behind launching out, at first, in areas where the needs are known."

So far, the group has repainted and done electrical repairs to the Comfort Castle Basic School, repainted the Ginger House Basic School and the Ginger House Postal Agency, which will also receive electricity.

Good response

According to Lindsay, the response from the five communities which have been targeted - Mount Oakley, Fellowship, Comfort Castle, Cornwall Barracks, and Windsor - is very encouraging as residents have been turning out in their numbers for meetings and are volunteering their services.

The five communities have been referred to as chapters, and they operate in groups, with meetings held twice monthly. They are run by an executive, which comprises a treasurer, secretary, vice-president, and a public relations officer.

But while the group is active, funding has posed a serious challenge, and as a result, Lindsay, who also operates an electrical appliances store, provides the resources, with assistance from Sullivan.

"We are on the verge of providing direct assistance to needy individuals in the various communities, and this initiative is to come on stream shortly. We are appealing to persons or businesses that may be able to assist us whether with cash or kind. The need is there, and once we have the necessary items at our disposal in the form of food, clothing, and building materials, we should be able to render assistance to persons."

rural@gleanerjm.com