COJO honorees

Sunday, December 28, 2014

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NEW York-based charity Children of Jamaica Outreach (COJO) this year presented awards to several individuals and businesses who have provided invaluable support to the charity and its programmes.

These included the philanthropy award to Dalbert and Vilma Daley; team awards to Robert DeSouza and Paulette Taylor; community service award to Mark Crawford; corporate award to Golden Krust Caribbean Grill & Bakery; and visionary awards to Richard Lue and Sandals Resorts International.

COJO has for 20 years been helping disenfranchised youngsters in Jamaica and the United States (US) in a range of education and social development programmes.

The charity champions the cause of needy children, many of whom are in state care, and identifies real needs facing underprivileged children and the non-government agencies that are best positioned to address these needs. Funds are raised throughout the year and culminate in the annual fundraising gala, held December 6 this year, at the Hilton, JFK, New York. The gala followed a welcome reception hosted by The Door restaurant in honour of former prime minister PJ Patterson on December 5.

The proceeds of the gala and other fundraising events have provided computer laboratories, teaching aids, furniture, bursaries and scholarships to a number of institutions in Jamaica, including Alpha Boys' Home, City of Refuge, Marigold Child Care Centre and the Glenhope Nursery.

COJO also contributes to a number of programmes in New York, including Project Helping Hands -- an after-school homework assistance programme at the YMCA in Queens, as well as that organisation's summer internship programme; and with the Leaf of Life organisation in New York which transports critically ill children from various countries around the world to the US for life-saving surgery.

Here are profiles of this year's honorees.

Sandals Resorts International

Family-owned Sandals Resorts International (SRI) has transformed itself to becoming one of the most well-known and award-winning hospitality companies in the world. With properties in Antigua, The Bahamas, Grenada, Barbados, Jamaica, Saint Lucia and Turks and Caicos, SRI is the undisputed leader of Caribbean vacation experiences and remains fiercely committed to the region, dedicating itself to innovative resort development that in the words of chairman and founder Gordon 'Butch' Stewart, "exceed expectations" for guests, associates, and the people who call the Caribbean home.

Even as they operate the region's most successful hotel brands, this company recognises the awesome responsibilities it has inside the countries it operates to ensure the best for the peoples of the territory. In this regard, Sandals supports and congratulate COJO's amazing initiatives in Jamaica, which benefits some of Jamaica's most needy children, who will all in one way or the other determine the future of all of us.

Richard Anthony Lue

Richard Anthony Lue, a veteran of the travel, tourism and entertainment industries, comes from an environment where the use of music is as integral to most marketing strategies, as are pictures. He cut his teeth during the late 70s at the then new style of Jamaican club hotels, mainly the Seawind Beach Resort, before moving on to the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB). At the JTB he served for a total of 13 years, first in Montego Bay and later in Los Angeles, as marketing executive for California and the neighbouring western states.

His experience in developing marketing strategies for Jamaica's tourism and his skill in fielding trade shows and educational seminars for the travel trade won him an invitation from Air Jamaica to join the newly privatised airline's marketing team in the mid-90s as general manager, marketing and sales for Jamaica and the Caribbean. He left Air Jamaica at the end of 2007.

He is recognised as one of the pioneers of the much touted Jamaica hotel entertainment circuit which has honed the careers many of today's top reggae musicians and performers. Lue played a leading role in the production of events like The Air Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival, Islands in the Park concert series, Air Jamaica World of Travel Series and Air Jamaica Day Festival (Toronto).

He is currently the director, business development, for the VP Music Group.

Golden Krust

Golden Krust was the brainchild of Ephraim and Mavis Hawthorne; founders of Hawthorne & Sons Bakery in St Andrew, Jamaica. This industrious and enterprising family had the respect of their neighbours who came to rely on the quality and homemade taste of Hawthorne & Sons baked goodies. They had no idea then what a launching pad that bakery would one day be; and no idea that it would blossom into a now global business with over 120 stores in nine states.

Golden Krust as we know it today began in 1989 when President/CEO Lowell Hawthorne, his wife Lorna, along with some of his siblings and their spouses who migrated from Jamaica, decided to continue the family tradition started by Mavis and Ephraim. They pooled their resources and opened what was a small store at 1381 E GunHill Rd in the Bronx and appointed Lowell Hawthorne to lead the enterprise.

The success of that flagship store made way for the opening of a second in Mount Vernon, then a third in Hartford, Connecticut, then a fourth, then a fifth.... In 1995 Forbes Magazine featured Golden Krust as one of the fastest-growing minority-owned businesses in the United States. By 1996 the Hawthornes owned 17 stores throughout the New York Tri-State area. The bakery became so successful that they were encouraged to create franchises. In that same year Golden Krust became the first Caribbean-owned business in the US to be granted a franchise licence.

Today the chain consists of over 120 stores located in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Georgia, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts and North Carolina. Golden Krust retail products can be found in over 12,000 supermarkets nationwide. Golden Krust also supplies patties to schools, the prison system, the military, and the products are being offered in the Middle East. Expanding beyond a family-owned business, 25 years later, Golden Krust now employs over 1500 persons system-wide.

The Hawthornes have always believed that it is better to give than to receive, and the company started investing in education from as early as 2001 when it launched a scholarship programme at Oberlin High School in Jamaica.

In 2004, the Golden Krust Bronx Community College Foundation Scholarship was established and in 2005 the company officially launched its charitable arm, the Mavis Ephraim Hawthorne Golden Krust Foundation. In total, the company has awarded over 200 scholarships to aspiring young persons both in Jamaica and the United States.

Dalbert & Vilma Daley

Dalbert and Vilma Daley, both born in Jamaica in homes where Christian values were of utmost importance, have been married for 37 years.

In 1979, two years after their marriage, Vilma, with the assistance of her husband, founded Queens Community Early Childhood Centre, an elementary school, and also a pre-school and kindergarten department. The school remained in operation for 22 years from three different locations. It offered an outstanding educational programme to a large number of students from Queens, Nassau, Suffolk County and Brooklyn. Queens Community Early Childhood Centre also provided employment to more than 100 people -- teachers, janitors, cooks, and other specialised professionals.

It was during this time, in 1982, that Vilma and Dalbert became the very proud parents of their only son, Gregory, who has distinguished himself as a business administrator and an artist. He is responsible for introducing the family to COJO, to which they have provided invaluable support.

In 1982, they started to establish themselves in the real estate business, providing housing for many of the residents of Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan. They share their good fortune with many less fortunate including those served by COJO and a young bright college student in Jamaica for whom they have provided a scholarship. The Daleys have also sponsored projects at Redeemer Moravian Church and Patrick Town All-Age School in Jamaica.

Mark Crawford, Esq

Mark Crawford has over fifteen years of combined experience in government and private practice. He served as a prosecutor for the Bronx County District Attorney's Office, and as counsel for several major insurance companies before founding Drummond & Crawford, PC, and later, The Crawford Law Firm, PC of which he is the principal. He sits on several boards of trustees for various local non-profit organisations and is a continuing education instructor in personal injury for the paralegal studies programme at York College, New York.

As a private practice attorney, Crawford has an abundance of experience in immigration law and also specialises in criminal defence. He is a seasoned litigator in labour and employment law and in personal injury matters.

A veteran of the United States Army Reserve, Crawford has served in multiple capacities for 17 years. He has been an officer in the Judge Advocate General's Corps (JAGC), represented the government on numerous boards pertaining to the separation of military personnel for misconduct, and provided legal assistance to soldiers deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan in support of the global war on terrorism.

Crawford was admitted to practise in the United States Court of Appeals for the armed forces and was the recipient of numerous military awards and decorations for his dedication to service and superior reputation as an attorney within the military/legal community.

He is also a frequent commentator on Queens Community Television on behalf of the non-profit organisation Future Grads and NEET.

Robert C DeSouza

Robert C DeSouza is the CEO of TransContinental Express Shipper in Queens, New York. He has been in the shipping business for over 30 years and sponsors many public and private events, offers scholarships and gives back to the community.

He is a member of the New York State Board of Realtors, American Society of Notaries, Cambria Heights Civic Association, St Alban's Chamber of Commerce and the Kiwanis Club of South East Queens, and sits on the board of five nonprofit organisations.

'Bob', as he is affectionately known throughout the community, finds time to share with the elderly and counsels youngsters in the community. He is someone who will always say "no problem", "it can be done", and "I will help."

His commitment and unwavering dedication to the community has earned him numerous awards and accolades including the Consul General of Jamaica Award for outstanding contribution to the Caribbean community; The Proclamation Honour by the City Council of New York; The Corporate Award of Excellence from Empire State Grand Chapter; The President's Award from Kingston College Alumni Association; Man of the Year Award for Outstanding Community Service from Heartbeats of the World, and more.

Paulette Taylor

As a child growing up in Jamaica, Paulette Taylor (nee Ramsay) learned the importance of service and that as a whole we are only as strong as those we leave behind.

Despite the responsibilities that came with being wife to Floyd and mother to Richard, and the demands associated with the career of a senior financial analyst in the rapidly growing telecommunications and defence industries, she still found the time to give back to her extended family, native country and local community. She has volunteered endless hours of her time in support of the Westbury Hills Civic Association and her parish church, St Brigid, located in Westbury.

In 1999, a close friend introduced her to Gary Williams and COJO. In COJO, Paulette found a home, a new commitment to service, and an opportunity to further assist her homeland. She identified with the members a genuine determination and commitment to improve the overall health, education and well-being of many underprivileged children. Since then, she has become an extremely dedicated advocate and vital member of the organisation, assisting in the efforts to carry out its mission, extending her financial expertise by helping to maintain COJO's accounting records and joining team trips to Jamaica in furtherance of the COJO mission.

COJO has become close and dear to Paulette, and she always seizes the opportunity to spread the word and recruit others to this worthy cause.

COJO's main sponsors are JetBlue, The Door, Caribbean Airlines, GraceKennedy, J Wray & Nephew, Dennis Hawthorne and Sandals Resorts International.

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