Jessie's spirit of mercy endures

Jessie's spirit of mercy endures

Jean Lowrie-Chin

Monday, October 14, 2019

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It is always wonderful to be with your schoolmates — except, of course, Aggrey Irons who continues to this day his practice from Alpha Prep of pulling my hair! Of course, I am joking; so proud of Aggrey, my mischievous classmate who is now a renowned psychiatrist.

We gathered for the Alpha Mercy Gala recently, celebrating three individuals who have walked in the footsteps of that compassionate Jamaican woman, Jessie Ripoll, who with two friends bought the Alpha premises at South Camp Road and took in her first resident a little orphan girl on May 1, 1880.

Patricia Lee (nee Yee), was honoured for her dedication to her alma mater, Convent of Mercy 'Alpha' Academy. Patsy and husband Larry established Florida Tropiculture Inc, a Miami-based enterprise, over 30 years ago; the company's plants can be found in distribution centres and at the many outlets of Home Depot, Lowe's and Costco throughout the US.

Sharing her good fortune, Patsy founded the Alpha Alumna Association in Florida, contributing to scholarships and grants for academy students, and sponsoring of health fairs at the school.

Patsy is also a founding member of the Jamaica/USA Chamber of Commerce and a director of the inaugural board. She has received many honours, among them the prestigious Jamaica Diaspora Luminary Award in recognition of her invaluable contribution to the development of the Jamaican community in South Florida.

Patricia Rose is an adjunct professor of nursing at Long Island University, director of nursing and administrator of the Tri-State Licensed Home Care Agency in New York City and a visiting clinician at St John's School of Nursing in Bangalore, India.

In her quest to increase literacy in her home parish of St Elizabeth and in New York, with the help of her board of directors, advisors, donors, and educational teams from the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Information Region 5, and the New York City Department of Education, she founded Literacy is a Family Experience Inc (LIFE) in 2014. She led the team in the building of a model which involves parents and families in their children's educational experiences in the home, at school, and in their communities.

Five years later, over 400 parents participate in LIFE's model. Students receive remedial instruction from teachers who administer the LIFE model. Overall, 60 per cent to 80 per cent of children who were previously reading below grade level are now reading at or above grade level.

The third recipient is a graduate of Jessie Ripoll Primary Calvin Hunter Jr. Growing up with a Christian family in an Allman Town tenement yard, the outstanding sports-loving student received the Jackie Bell Scholarship at Jessie Ripoll and developed his football prowess under Jackie's brother, coach Neville “Bertis” Bell at St George's College. Even as he excelled in the fields of banking and auditing, he was encouraged by the late great Winston Chung Fah to remain and inspire the youth in Allman Town.

Calvin established the Optimist Club of St Matthew's Kingston, serving as charter president and later distinguished president, using it as a vehicle to empower many youngsters. He rose to the position of district governor of the Optimist International Caribbean District for 2017-2018, during which time the district was recognised as number one in the world.

The devoted family man created “Adopt an Angel”, a Caribbean, public educational and capacity-building programme against bullying and violence against children. It has been endorsed by Governor General Sir Patrick Allen. A consultant at Crowe Jamaica, a member of the accounting and audit firm Crowe Horwath International, Calvin participates in the financial development of his church, and is business manager for Alvin Day, international empowerment coach and author.

In a moving gesture, Calvin made a presentation to Lorna Bell, widow of Jackie Bell, thanking her for using the funds collected at his funeral to support his primary school education, creating a strong foundation for his successful life.

High-level arrests

These lauded honorees are a reminder to use our success to serve others, and not to serve only ourselves. The early morning police action at the homes of some high-level Jamaicans last week is a cautionary tale for those who are entrusted with positions of authority. The charges are serious and we will see how the trials unfold. This is not the time for one political party to crow over the other. Rather, it is a sad time when we must take a second look at the way we are raising our children, and at the messages we are sharing in the workplace and on the campaign trail.

Recently a truck carrying a variety of goods was involved in a crash on Spur Tree Hill, and there were scores of people laughing while they looted the truck. Why have our people descended into this type of behaviour? Who has been promoting this 'freeness mentality'? Leaders, beware of what you preach and the example you set they may come back to bite you.

Celebrating a milestone

Allow me to pen a few lines about my husband Hubie Chin who will celebrate a milestone birthday this week. We met at church, introduced by his friend Horace “Natchy” Campbell with whom he played the guitar to back up our little choir. They were engineering students at the College of Arts, Science, and Technology (CAST), now University of Technology, Jamaica. After we wed, I soon realised what a blessing it was that my life partner was from a loving family, and was educated at a Jesuit school, which inspired in him a life of service to family, church and country.

When our second child came along, Hubie noted my struggle to balance business and motherhood and he gave up his lucrative job as production manager at a large manufacturing company to join PROComm. It was 1988, when information technology became a must for business, and he sent himself to seminars, assisting in the roll-out of an efficient system to keep pace. If I look efficient, it is because he gives me IT guidance in the small bites that my artistic brain can digest from one day to the next.

His former teammate at St George's College, Lennox Robinson, never fails to remind me of “that strong left foot” which took them to Colts victory, and later made Hubie a member of Winston Chung Fah's first Santos team. Now he is an ardent golfer with a few prizes under his belt.

Anita, Noel and I are blessed that Hubie is an amazing family man. He is the homework genius, Mr Fix-It, the patient listener and a committed prayer warrior. Happy birthday, Hubie – here's to many more!


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