BUSINESSMAN Sameer Younis was yesterday conferred with the Order of Jamaica — the nation's fourth highest honour — in recognition of his exceptional contribution to community development and the retail industry.
Younis, 71, was given the honour at a special investiture ceremony at King's House, yesterday.
Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller applauded Younis on receiving the honour, which she said is most deserving for someone who has contributed so much to the country's growth and development, particularly in the re-development of downtown Kingston.
She pointed out that as president of the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC), Younis spearheaded some of the most sustained campaigns to revitalise the city of Kingston and has been a tireless champion for a greener and cleaner city.
"I am inspired by his selfless contribution to those who are less fortunate. He touched my heart when he launched the inner-city programme... and started a training programme to lift the lives of a number of our young people in our inner cities. For that, we are indeed grateful," the prime minister said.
"I want to thank you for your selfless service to your country and particularly your contribution to lifting the lives of the poor in our inner cities," she added.
Governor General Sir Patrick Allen pointed out that Younis is among the 138 people to be recognised this year for their service to Jamaica's growth and development, and one of seven who will be invested as a member of the Order of Jamaica.
"Through your business endeavours and your support for worthy, charitable causes, you demonstrated a strong determination to not just achieve personal success, but also to contribute to the nation building process. Long will you be remembered for your work through organisations such as the Jamaica Manufacturers Association and the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce," he said.
"Mr Younis, it is my pleasure to thank you for your exemplary service to Jamaica...may God continue to bless you and grant you His peace," he added.
Having been engaged in civic affairs for over 40 years, Younis said that he is "humbled and honoured to get this award".
Much of his work in this area focuses on the youth, particularly, those from the inner city. Through the
JCC's Junior Achievement Programme, for which he was chairman from 1986 to 2001, Younis said the aim is to try to "re-energise the youth of this country to take responsibility for their actions...difficult, difficult task but if we continue to press, we have a chance".
Younis is very passionate about instilling proper family values in these youth, which he stresses is very important "because if they don't have family life and family values, they don't have chance. They don't have a chance to get education, they don't have a chance to get disciplined, they don't have a chance to raise a proper family".
"The key thing is family life and family values and you don't have to have money to do that... and that is what I push and I'll continue to push until the day I die because the only chance for Jamaica and Jamaicans is to bring back family life and family values to our people, not just the inner city, everybody," he stressed.
Younis, who founded Fabrics de Younis garment stores in 1970, served as pesident of the JCC between 1986 and 1991, and as president of the Jamaica Manufacturers' Association between 1996 and 2000.
He also spearheaded the JCC's 'Clean as a Whistle' campaign, and was integrally involved in the 'Helping Hands' campaign, which took mentally ill people off the streets and placed them at the Bellevue Hospital in Kingston. He was also behind the 'People against Road Accidents Campaign' that was launched in 1989.
In 1989 he was conferred with the Order of Distinction, Commander Class.