Overwhelming response to Butch Stewart Community Awards
Almost 300 nominations have been received for the inaugural Butch Stewart Community Awards, the organisers said late last week.
Officially launched on May 8, 2014, the Awards are designed to identify and reward community heroes who have selflessly devoted their lives to service, community development and nation building.
Response to the call for nominees has overwhelmed the organisers, who said the panel of judges, comprising notable individuals across several social sectors, will now begin reviewing nominations and, by the end of August, announce the top five nominees in each of the 10 categories.
"We are very happy to see such a wonderful response to the Butch Stewart Community Awards," said Adam Stewart, Sandals Resorts International's chief executive officer and son of the man in whose honour the awards are being given.
"It not only shows us that there are many Jamaicans across the island who have been quietly making an impact, but most importantly, that others recognise their efforts and are grateful," Stewart added. "We are pleased to help shine a light on these deserving individuals and we're very excited to announce the short-listed nominees."
The 10 categories are Health Services, Youth Achievers, Education, Farming and Agriculture, Social Work, Volunteerism, Community Growth and Development, Arts and Cultural Preservation, Protective Services, and Entrepreneurship.
The top five nominees in each category will be invited to an exclusive luncheon at Sandals Grande Riviera Beach and Villa Golf Resort, where the winners of each category will be announced.
Nominees will be assessed on their overall contribution to the development of their community, their contributions to their specific social sector, years of service, the impact their work has had on the lives of community members and feedback from the community, among other criteria.
Winners will receive four-night/five-day luxury vacations at Sandals Resorts in Jamaica and engraved plaques/trophies.
At the launch in May, Local Government Minister Noel Arscott commended the Sandals Group for extending their corporate brand to this initiative, saying that it will no doubt lift the profile of the efforts of all social entrepreneurs.
"It perfectly synchronises with the mission of the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, which is to transform people's attitude towards how they approach community development," Arscott added.
Commending the awards organisers' vision, Arscott noted that many people do not view social activism as important. "As such, we do not sufficiently celebrate the efforts of our courageous men and women who sacrifice themselves to serve their communities. In fact, I'm aware of a number of stalwarts who have made significant contributions to their communities and are often overlooked," the minister said.
Responding to the gesture, Butch Stewart, who is also chairman of the Observer, said he was honoured that his name was associated with an award such as this.
"I really want to thank the team who came up with this award... I think the unsung heroes of Jamaica are the biggest heroes that we have, every community is full of them," he said. "We know a lot of them, we see them at their work, we see people making blood out of stone... I really hope his award will start shining the light on a lot of the people in the communities who really deserve it."