SANDALS Foundation is celebrating its third anniversary this month, having achieved its mandate to assist people across the Caribbean and preserve the environment.
In fact, the foundation — the philanthropic arm of Sandals Resorts International — has impacted 80,000 lives across the region through more than 100 community programmes in keeping with a pledge by its president and founder Adam Stewart to build the Caribbean, one project at a time.
"I am very proud of how far the Sandals Foundation has come in giving back to Caribbean communities in just three years," said Stewart, who is also CEO of Sandals Resorts. "The community projects and programmes are a step in the right direction, but there is definitely a need that keeps growing and we must continue to work with our partners to address the issues that affect our region."
Through a partnership with Great Shape Inc, the foundation was able to facilitate oral hygiene education, dental and eye care clinics for more than 50,000 people. It also runs an annual Christmas toy drive which, since 2009, has presented 10,000 children with toys each year.
In addition, the foundation has donated 65,000 books to schools throughout the Caribbean and runs an ongoing initiative, called the Reading Road Trip, to promote literacy in children.
As part of its push for education, the Sandals Foundation has seen to the construction of two schools in Jamaica: Culloden Early Childhood Institute, a green school in Westmoreland, for 120 students; and Seville Golden pre-school, which is capable of accommodating 100 students, in St Ann.
Renovations have also been made to other schools in the Caribbean while computer labs, recreational areas for children, and school libraries have been built.
"We would not be able to carry out our mission to positively impact the lives of others without the dedication of our team members and the hard work put in by our volunteers," said Heidi Clarke, director of programmes. "We are also very grateful to community partners, without whom our work would not be possible. Partnership is our greatest strength."
The foundation, which has a team of 4,000 community and guest volunteers, along with 10,000 staff members, has so far raised more than US$1.5 million, keeping its promise of channelling 100 per cent of the funds raised into the Caribbean.
Over the past three years, the foundation has invested in marine sanctuaries, supporting the biodiversity of Caribbean waters, while educating fishermen in Jamaica on the importance of preserving marine life.
For 2012, the foundation intends to focus on teacher training and parenting workshops, and has identified 11 major projects in Jamaica, The Bahamas, Antigua, St Lucia and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
These include implementing the Children's Literacy Action Programme, which will include a community centre, in St Lucia; refurbishing the St Ann and St Mary infirmaries on Jamaica's north coast and home to more than 160 mentally and physically challenged residents; and expanding Willikie's Primary School in Antigua.