Regional

A scholarship fund in Mama Jo's honour

BY ALICIA SUTHERLAND Sunday Observer staff reporter sutherlanda@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, August 17, 2014    

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester — The reputation for contribution to community and family that Bethany resident Ivy Josephine Clarke has built over the years is one so sturdy that it will not easily fade from the memory of those whose lives she has impacted.

In fact, the celebration of her century in July, dubbed a "historic affair," attracted a diverse age group of individuals and a recurring theme was the way in which lives have been positively touched by the woman affectionately referred to as "Mama Jo."

For her family, however, a tangible way to sustain her legacy is an appropriate recognition and a decision was taken to start a scholarship fund in her honour.

"As the first part of her legacy we will be starting a scholarship fund to give to the students who attend Bethany Primary School. These scholarships will aid students in paying for college, paying for their books and other expenses that they may encounter in their journey throughout school," it was disclosed by one relative at her celebratory event at the Golf View Hotel in Mandeville.

Clarke is reportedly the longest serving patron of the North West Manchester-based Bethany All Age (now Primary) School and was chairman of the school board for many years.

Former Principal Garth Smith said that she not only played her role in areas such as the selection of staff but living close to the school allowed her to keep a "very strict" eye on the daily activities.

He took on the role of principal in 1984 and remembered clearly that she asked him some tough questions in the interview for the position as well as how she carefully scrutinised documents before attaching her signature as she carried out her duties as chairman.

Smith said, however, that over the years that he served the institution the relationship has grown and can be likened to that of a family.

He noted that her wisdom has been demonstrated by the multi-faceted way in which she served the community.

"She took into account the needs and aspirations of the community and catered to those needs accordingly. It's good to know that Mama Jo can bring, not just her family members, but other persons together in this fashion while we can still appreciate her and while she can still hear all the accolades that we are heaping upon her," said Smith.

The Bethany Primary School attracts students from within North West Manchester as well as from the North East Manchester area.

"I think it is a fantastic move. There are students in the community that have needs financially. Also it will be a motivation for students," the former principal in reference to the scholarship fund told the Jamaica Observer.

The continuation of a Christmas treat benefitting more than 100 children which was started over 30 years ago and assistance towards the development of the Bethany Moravian Church are also ways in which Clarke's legacy is slated to be upheld.

Clarke, in a brief message to her well-wishers, emphasised the importance of seeking spiritual guidance.

"Continue to praise the Lord. If the spirit of the Lord is not with you kneel on your knees and pray. He is not far away...so do not be discouraged," she said.

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