Operation Hope opens doors for Linstead youth
Alicia Forrest, Gleaner Writer
Linstead, St Catherine:Parents, well-wishers, and other stakeholders turned up at the St Helen's Roman Catholic Church in Linstead for the third passing-out ceremony for graduates of Operation Hope. The event was held under the theme, 'Your world is as big as you make it'.
Valedictorian Stace-Ann Beck-ford, who shared the honour with Leroy Carty, said she had gained invaluable time-management skills. "Before enrolling in the programme, I used to be late, but because of the programme, I am more punctual."
A Shortwood Teachers' College graduate, she said she decided to enroll in the programme as a way to volunteer in the community, which is a critical component of the programme.
Participant Jovan Hudson, who copped top prizes in a number of categories, including attendance, time management and discipline, said he learned valuable inter-personal skills. He said: "I have learned how to better interact with others." He was encouraged by his aunt to enroll in the programme as he was new to Linstead. He is originally from St Thomas and was not doing anything at the time.
Delivering the keynote address, Deputy Superintendent of Police in charge of Linstead Duane Ellington reminded the graduates that they are servants of each other and encouraged the graduates to never give up.
Councillor for the Linstead division, Herbert Garriques, who also addressed the gathering, congratulated the graduates and encouraged them to use the programme as a stepping stone.
Appealed for support
Since its inception in 2011, the programme has turned out 60 graduates who have moved on to start their own businesses or attend college or university. Run by the Linstead Community Development Committee (LCDC), it seeks to instil values and skills such as time management, discipline, and conflict resolution, as well as foster a spirit of volunteerism and community involvement.
Chairman of the LCDC Devon Smith, appealed for more financial support in order to enhance the programme. In his address to the gathering, he said: "The programme would cost over $300,000 to run it effectively. We need your financial support to continue with the programme and to continue to make an impact. What we are actually doing in our community is saving lives, adding to production, and making our country a place where we would want to live."