BY INGRID BROWN Associate editor — special assignment firstname.lastname@example.org
ERROL Green is committed to the development of his childhood town of Annotto Bay, St Mary, and is convinced that the means of doing so is to give of his time and resources to help the less fortunate.
In the four years since establishing Exodus Funeral Home in the town, Green has allocated a portion of his operating budget to providing school uniforms for more than 100 children in the parish and to paying for the Caribbean Seondary Eduation Certifiate (CSEC) examinations for several students of Annotto Bay High School.
Still not satisfied that enough is being done to help the needy, Green said he intends to establish a foundation which will plae greater emphasis on fostering education, because he believes that no child with the potential to learn should be denied an education as a result of poverty.
His motivation for doing what he does, Green said, is to give back to the community which helped shape his life. Now a father of two young boys, he said he also wants to be a role model for them.
"I just want to be a good person. I am a Bible-believing person and God-fearing and I believe in the scriptures that say "do good unto all men; and do unto others as you would have them do unto you" and so I made a commitment for the rest of my life to do all I can to help a fallen person," Green told the Jamaica Observer North East.
He said even the decision to set up his business in the town was deliberate.
"I could have chosen another location, but I chose here because not only am I from Annotto Bay, but I wanted to create employment while being able to offer an affordable service to the people in and around the town," he said.
Explaining how it all started, Green said when he first set up business on Main Street, four years ago, his thought was to craft a plan on how to give back to the community. One of the first projects he undertook was to provide uniforms for a number of students. This year the project provided some 150 to children of various communities.
"The uniform was intended for the less fortunate who cannot afford it, and so we try not to give to children whose parents are working, but to like a single mother raising two or three kids on her own without any support," he said.
He explained further: "We go through the community and identify those people and we get the names and give them the voucher to go to a manufacturer in the town to get the uniforms."
He said the idea was borne out of the many requests received from parents seeking help to send their children back to school.
As for the project to pay for CSEC subjects, Green said he needed to do something for the children who have the potential but just cannot afford the fees.
"What I do is give the money to the school and the guidance counsellor identifies the need and distributes it accordingly," he said, adding that his target for the coming year is to pay for 100 subjects.
"The feedback I am getting from the school is great and encourages me to want to do more," he said.
The need, he said, has propelled him to start the Exodus Foundation which he intends to have up and running within a matter of months.
"If a child is doing well and finishes high school with good passes and can't afford to go to college and has potential, that is where the foundation will come in to finance that child's education and make a success story," he said, adding "we just want to change people's lives."
The Foundation, he said, will be funded by the funeral home as well as fund-raisers.
"When you approach people for sponsorship they take too long to buy into what you are doing and by then the need has passed; which is why I want to back it from my business and fund-raisers so I can know how far we can go," he said.
Meanwhile, the businessman said he has also established an entertainment project to give exposure to young people who are interested in music. This takes the form of identifying talents to participate on a live stage show. The shows, he said, are free of cost so that more persons can attend, and so that the young artistes can feel comfortable performing before a large audience.
"I do major promotion and get as many people to come, and a lot of people who would never ever support these types of events usually come out," he said.
A component of the project, he said, will be the establishment of a best song competition, where the winner will get to shoot a music video and record a single.
"We want to give them a start so when they approach the wider world they can show what they have done," Green said.
Today, Heroes' Day, Green will be giving back to the community by honouring some 70 outstanding natives of the town. The all-day event will begin with a road race from Dover to Annotto Bay involving several young people from Annotto Bay High School and youth clubs from the area.
This will be followed by a parade of the high school's marching band through the town, and an award ceremony at the local Baptist church. Dr Donovan Thomas formerly of Youth for Christ, who is a native of Annotto Bay, will be guest speaker. He will also be presented with an award for being among the first in the community to receive a doctorate.
Green said this is his way of celebrating the accomplishments of some of the town's people.
"I remember when a child pass Common Entrance or CXC subjects the whole town would rejoice... So where the community is today I rejoice knowing where it's coming from and the fact that there are a number of persons who have helped in its development and who we need to say "well done" to.
Among the other awardees will be the first persons from the community to become a medical doctor, and a public health inspector, as well as justices of the peace, police, teachers, soldiers, nurses, firemen, entertainers, and others who have served the community well.
"We will also be awarding others who have come and revolutionised Annotto Bay, such as some of our medical doctors who spend years working in the town," he said.