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JIS PR, marketing team reaches out to Homstead girls

Monday, June 23, 2014    

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MEMBERS of the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) Public Relations and Marketing Department recently partnered with corporate sponsors and motivational speaker and grooming coach, Althea Laing, to mentor and fete more than 40 girls of the State-run Homestead Residential Care Facility.

The visit formed part of the agency's Child Month outreach project.

The JIS team, ably supported by representatives of HD Hopwood, Joong Supermarket, NMH, GlaxoSmithKline, Libresse, Jamaica Biscuit Company, Everybody's Pharmacy and Deli, M&D Marketing and Distributions Company, and Island Grill, took the trip to the home in Stony Hill on May 31, bearing dozens of boxes of food supplies and clothing, donated by the sponsors and agency staff.

Public relations and marketing manager at the JIS, Marie Berbick- Graham, notes that the agency has been working closely with the Mount Olivet Boys' Home for some time, and felt it was timely to extend support to a girls' home.

"This activity is a continuation of the support that the agency is giving to the youth. We are interested in motivating and inspiring them. We hope that we can make a difference, encourage these young ladies and help to build their self-esteem," she says.

Berbick-Graham expresses the hope that the young ladies will understand that despite their present situations, their future can be positive, with the right attitude and hard work.

The day began with breakfast of Aunt Jemima pancakes and nutritious Quaker Oats porridge being served to the girls by HD Hopwood Distributors. Members of the HD Hopwood team also shared cooking tips with the girls.

Breakfast was eaten picnic-style on the lawns of the property, with the JIS team engaging the girls in discussion about topics of interest to them.

A dynamic motivational presentation on etiquette and confidence, as well as grooming lessons followed from Jamaica's first international supermodel and Essence cover girl, Althea Laing.

Laing and her team shared lessons in social graces and demonstrated walking and sitting techniques, along with proper make-up application.

Laing, who is now a teacher and businesswoman, has had firsthand experiences with life challenges, and found it easy to engage the girls in a lively discussion on making their dreams a reality. She also impressed upon them the importance of believing in their worth and value.

Speaking with JIS News, Laing says "a lot of children who are in the homes are at a disadvantage and I believe that the girls need someone who empathises with them. I told them that everyone is important and is able to be successful in spite of their circumstances, as long as they believe in themselves they will achieve whatever it is that they want".

The former supermodel is encouraging Jamaicans to do their part in caring for the nation's children, thereby securing the country's future. She expressed delight at being able to work with the girls.

Lunch was provided courtesy of M&D Marketing and Distributions Company. Promotions Coordinator Jhanelle Fuller says when the company heard of the initiative it quickly came on board to lend support.

"We thought it was good for us to join with the JIS PR department's project because we have a lot of products that the girls can make use of and us being here is to let the girls know that they're not here by themselves and that we care for them," she says.

Social aid worker at Homestead, Renée Irving, praised JIS for the initiative.

"I must commend them for coming out in their spare time and giving us this moment. The time with the girls has made them feel a part of society and I'm sure their self-esteem has risen," she expresses.

Director of Children and Family Programme at the Child Development Agency (CDA), Audrey Budai, was pleased with the occasion and the positive interaction between the girls and the JIS team.

"When I heard JIS was planning a visit to the Homestead facility I was very excited because it is a fitting end to Child Month and leads straight into the CDA's 10th anniversary celebrations. A lot of times people visit facilities and they just do activities but this one on one quality time with the children makes it a wonderful day," she says.

Meanwhile, the girls expressed their own satisfaction and gratitude for the special attention. One girl describes the motivational speech from Ms. Laing, as unforgettable.

"She told us that we are all special and that we must love and respect ourselves and not to allow anyone to speak negative words in our lives," she says.

The JIS team moved onto Tapioca Village Retreat in St Mary where some of the Homestead residents were receiving therapeutic treatment.

Both trips were concluded with presentations of gifts from sponsors and the JIS, to the girls, and the home.

JIS Public Relations Officer Judith Hunter sums up the day as "an eye opener".

"You hear about girls in state care and somehow you think they are bad, but this experience helped me to realise that they are ordinary children who just want to be loved and cared for. So I am happy that I got the opportunity to be part of this experience," she explains.

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