Caring cops

Caring cops

JCF members donate $2m to PSOJ COVID-19 response fund

Saturday, July 11, 2020

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MEMBERS of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) have contributed $2 million to the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) COVID-19 Jamaica Response Fund.

The contributions from members of the JCF were made through the United Way of Jamaica (UWJ) workplace philanthropy programme, and make the cops the biggest public sector group donating to the fund which is seeking to raise $250 million to provide food security and health services to 25 of the most vulnerable communities in the island in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The whole matter of depriving people of benefits and restricting their movements and so on creates inconvenience, but when persons understand that the JCF has a critical input into the fund, when people understand that the same persons who are giving are the same persons who, by the very nature of their work, have to restrict their movement, have to effect searches and do other law enforcement initiatives, they will now understand that they're not evil – they're real people. They give, they love, they support this venture,” said Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Bishop Gary Welsh.

ACP Welsh explained that the JCF's contributions to the COVID-19 response effort are facilitated via salary deductions to the UWJ, one of several agencies from the public, private and social sectors partnering with the PSOJ on the fund-raising and resource distribution initiative.

Other partners are umbrella organisation for the voluntary sector, Council of Voluntary Social Services, along with the JMMB Joan Duncan Foundation, Sagicor Foundation Jamaica, and the American Friends of Jamaica.

“One good turn deserves another,” UWJ CEO Winsome Wilkins said of the JCF's involvement with the NGO, a relationship that dates back to 1989.

“United Way came to their rescue post-Hurricane Gilbert,” said Wilkins.

“Their Magnificent Troopers Marching Band at the police academy was preparing for a major competition. All their equipment was damaged by Hurricane Gilbert. They sought help everywhere without any success. They heard about the United Way and were brave enough to put in an application for grant funds to replace the equipment.

“The rest is history… they got the grant, purchased the equipment, entered the competition, and won. The then commandant, Keton Morgan, vowed to become a volunteer with the United Way and to encourage members of the force to give on a consistent basis,” added Wilkins.

Over the years, members of the JCF have served in key roles with UWJ. ACP Welsh is the current chair of its fund-raising and workplace philanthropy programme.

“We know first-hand what the needs are, and anything we can do is a part of our commitment to services,” Bishop Welsh said of the JCF members' decision to channel their contributions to the COVID-19 fund.

According to Welsh, the donations by the cops will have spin-off benefits for the force.

“We will reap some goodwill out of it. It puts us in a better position to be effective because we understand the pressures on both sides,” said Welsh.

UWJ said that over the years, donations via payroll deductions from employees across government ministries and private sector companies have benefited programmes within inner-city communities, such as skills training, early childhood and youth development.

The NGO said in addition to the JCF, several organisations are helping to raise funds through employee salary deductions. Among them are the JMMB Group and Jamaica Customs.

“The JMMB Group team members are pleased to support the multi-sectoral initiative PSOJ COVID-19 response fund. We see our donation as part of our duty to assist our brothers and sisters in their time of need,” said Kim Mair, CEO of the JMMB Joan Duncan Foundation.

“It's the human thing to do,” Jamaica Customs Agency Director of Public Relations and Customer Services La Donna Manning said of the decision to get involved with the drive.

“As an employee of Jamaica Customs, I feel good. I feel heartened that we are joining in this effort to help our fellow Jamaicans, because there are many, many, many people who are feeling the brunt of COVID-19 and we must sacrificially give to our brothers and sisters. It's not always going to be convenient to give, but that is what makes it even more heartening – when you, even though it is difficult with you as a person, can still find it possible to give and to help someone else,” added Manning.

In addition to raising $192,000 to date, Jamaica Customs is also providing voluntary trucking services — complete with a driver — to assist with the logistics side of the project.

As of July 3, the PSOJ COVID-19 Response Fund had raised $182 million.

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