CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank has applauded the contributions of three unsung heroes to bettering the lot of Jamaicans.
The 2012 Unsung Heroes, Jacqueline Cooper, Winston "Sparrow" Martin, and Dr Beverly Scott, were recently awarded at a function at the Wyndham Kingston kotel.
Cooper, a self-styled teacher, conducts free CXC classes in Waterhouse, while Martin — who is the music master at Alpha Boys' Home — was recognised for launching many music careers. Dr Scott, meanwhile, founded the Montego Bay-based Family Parenting Centre, which provides counselling, trauma and therapy sessions in schools and communities. Each received the equivalent of US$6,000 to continue their work.
Speaking at the ceremony, the bank's Managing Director Nigel Holness said the circumstances outlined by the three leads one to ask whether "we failed our children".
Hailing the three as "real heroes - in every sense", Holness noted that "even as we celebrate, we have to acknowledge that the work they are doing is relevant and needs our support."
He recounted tales of "heart-rending stories of abandoned and abused children, of eight year olds left at home to look after younger siblings, of parents sending children on the streets to beg and not nurturing them or providing solace."
He also spoke of reports of "children who come to places of safety, aged far beyond their natural years, hopeless, fearful, distrustful of authority," but declared that these realities made the work of the CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank Unsung Heroes all the more critical and valuable.
The bank, he reiterated, is also committed to doing what it can "to uplift the people and communities it serves", and contributes at least one per cent of its profits to community projects in Jamaica. These projects include youth development and education, tertiary level scholarships, the upgrading of basic schools, and behaviour modification programmes at high schools.
Holness noted that the bank, in celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, has placed special emphasis on health; donating millions to the Jamaica Diabetes Association, US$49,000 to Chain of Hope for the purchase of an incubator for the Bustamante Children's Hospital, and hosting a lapathon in association with the Jamaica Cancer Society (JCS) in support of a cure for cancer. Contributions from participants were matched by the bank and donated to the JCS.
Lauding the work of the 2012 awardees at the ceremony, Holness said, "the bank is pleased to join with our Unsung Heroes all over Jamaica in imparting life lessons and improving communities all over the island."