Careers & Education

Jamalco worker committed to volunteerism

Sunday, October 28, 2012    

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WHEN it comes to volunteering and inspiring others to do likewise, Jamalco's production system's operator Kenneth Francis is exemplary.

So outstanding is his voluntary service that the Alcoa Foundation recognised him as the Alcoa Foundation Bravo Volunteer of the Month of May for his exceptional commitment to community service.

For his reward, Francis received US$1,000 for his charity and a paid day off to volunteer.

'Franco', as he is fondly called by his colleagues, has been giving voluntary service to several organisations in his hometown and neighbouring communities — a habit he cultivated from an early age.

"Back then [as a teenager], I saw a lot of needs and often heard others say it's not their responsibility so they did not have to help. From where I sat, the needs were not always simple [to meet], but I did my utmost to get the job done as I was committed to making a difference and to giving something back," he said.

"I also felt an obligation to share my knowledge and skills with those who needed it most. Additionally, the fulfilment I got at the end of the process, knowing that I impacted the lives of others, motivated me to give more of myself," added Francis, the married father of two children.

He noted that his desire to volunteer was heightened further when he became a Christian.

"I quickly immersed myself in the study of God's word. Soon thereafter, I began mentoring younger boys and applied Biblical principles to my daily life. The many examples of Jesus' work helped to solidify my desire to volunteer and the need to continue no matter what," Francis said.

At one point, the need for managing and coaching the Cross United Football team arose and when he was asked, he agreed without hesitation.

"I was playing for Clarendon College at the time so I had the requisite skills needed to coach and mentor the youngsters at the club and so I decided to help," he said.

His move to seek employment at Jamalco in 2005 has also served his purpose well.

"Jamalco encourages volunteerism and the Alcoa Foundation provides funding for the institutions that we work with through the Bravo! programme," he said.

The Bravo! programme encourages each employee to volunteer at least 50 hours at local non-governmental organisations. In recognition of this, the Alcoa Foundation provides a grant of US$250 to that institution.

"My first voluntary activity at Jamalco took the form of an ACTION (Alcoans Coming Together in our Neighourhoods) project where we refurbished the bathroom facilities at my Alma mater, Clarendon College," Francis recalled.

Since then, his work has borne even bigger fruits and Clarendon College is his main Bravo! project.

In 2011, Francis, who is the current president of the Clarendon College Past Students' Association, Clarendon Chapter, got 17 past students from Jamalco to give more than 50 hours each to the school.

They painted the laboratories and classrooms and repaired sections of the school's roadways during several workdays. The association has also purchased two large water tanks and a stove from their 2011 Bravo funds for the school's home economics centre.

Francis is also president of the May Primary School's parent-teachers' association and is a member of the school board. He serves, too, as secretary of the National Parent-Teachers' Association in region six.

In addition, he volunteers at Kids Basic School and is helping to start a project at Rosewell Basic School even as he mentors students at Clarendon College and others in his community.

Francis has attributed the success he has experienced in organising his voluntary projects to his zeal, passion and enthusiasm.

"These are infectious and my colleagues are drawn to them. My style of leadership helps to motivate them. The fun we have working while reminiscing about our school days helps. I am also forceful in signing them up for the Bravo! programme. All they have to do is come and volunteer their time and I do the rest, such as providing transportation and lunch," he said.

Meanwhile, he said volunteering has much to recommend it.

"It builds character, self-esteem and is a terrific learning experience. It's not only a critical learning experience, but [also] a special way to lend a helping hand and, more importantly, your heart. When money is not the motivation, a different side of the human condition emerges," he said.

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