Kimone Montique: A mission to serve

By FALON FOLKES
Career & Education reporter
folkesf@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, January 21, 2018

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GREENHEART International ambassador Kimone Montique is a ray of hope for her hometown of Whithorn in Westmoreland. The Hampton School past student has been doing charity projects since 2013, and in December partnered with Greenheart International and philanthropists from Branson, Missouri, to carry out charity projects at Whithorn Early Childhood Institution and the Westmoreland Infirmary.

Montique has been affiliated with Greenheart International since 2016, when the organisation, which facilitates cultural exchange programmes, personal development opportunities, volunteer service initiatives and environmental advocacy projects, first sponsored her for their student work and travel programme.

“Greenheart International specialises in global connections with college students. There are several programmes, but the one I am currently a part of is the Greenheart International ambassador,” Montique explained.

Haldis Toppen, work and travel director of marketing and outreach, Greenheart International, told Career & Education that they are extremely proud to have Montique in their community of ambassador scholars.

“She went above and beyond in our expectations of what it means to represent our mission and vision. As a second-time ambassador scholar, Kimone represented Greenheart Exchange in her American community of Branson, Missouri, by demonstrating a positive impact in her community,” she explained.

“Kimone successfully completed the ambassador scholarship programme by volunteering 15 hours in the United States and organised volunteer events, connected with various volunteer organisations in her community, as well as shared her culture with co-workers,” Toppen continued.

As a result of her outstanding work, Montique was chosen to attend Greenheart's global leadership conference for the second year in a row.

“Students usually go on the programme and just come back with money to pay their tuition. But they (Greenheart International) were saying that it (the ambassador programme) is a good opportunity to network,” said the third-year integrated marketing & communications student at UWI.

She also highlighted that through this programme, the company offers internship and employment opportunities to their ambassadors.

While working in Branson, Missouri, Montique formed a network with her co-workers.

“I worked at a family fun park called The Track. During the time there, I also had to do a project with them in the States. It was a campaign for water consumption and in the same breath we did a recycling campaign. We sensitised the community where I was living at the time during my work and travel programme.”

She said it was residents and colleagues from that trip who donated books for her school project.

Thanks to her network in Branson, the 22-year-old was able to donate over 50 books for children ages two to six, along with an extended bookshelf to Whithorn Early Childhood.

“This school is a very important part of me and my family's upbringing. From the tender age of two years we are placed in the care of the staff here, and so it is only fitting, since we have taken so much, to give back a little so that other families can have the same if not better experiences than what mine had,” she said.

In addition to equipping the school with library material, Montique will also start a reading and spelling programme.

“This (programme) will help the students to read better. This will prep them for the primary level,” she said.

Principal of the school, Tracy Ann Forbes, said she is appreciative of the gesture.

“The children like to read. They love books. So we appreciate it very much and it will enhance our literacy programme. We want the children to be able to read by the time they leave for grade one. So it will be a means of enhancing their literacy skills,” she said.

According to the educator, the school only had reading corners in the different classrooms. With this recent donation from Montique, they will be able to set up a library in the computer room.

For her second charity project, Montique and her family prepared and served lunch for residents at the Westmoreland Infirmary. Matron Robertha Douglas reported that it was well received.

“The residents enjoyed their meals. We appreciate it at the Westmoreland Infirmary on behalf of all the residents here. We appreciate good gestures such as this. We look forward to continuing the relationship with her (Montique) and the Westmoreland community at large,” Douglas said.

She pointed out that some of the residents did not have any form of maintenance from families, and the treat brightened their day.

“We are living in a society where people are living longer. Most people here are senior citizens, so we appreciate that young people can really take the time out to really do something special for the elderly who are socially marginalised.”

Montique's decision to treat the residents stems from community surveillance and personal experience.

“Two years ago I had a distant family member who was committed to the infirmary and of course, people in the community began talking about the situation and it just never sat right with me. So [when I got] this opportunity I felt like I could do something for families not capable of completely taking care of other family members,” she said.

Montique indicated that her research about the infirmary reminded her that as youths and adults, people should be mindful of how they live their lives. With this in mind, she will continue to “give back to the community and speak out for the voiceless” .

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