President of Sandals Foundation dedicates centre to community stalwart Tears of joy streamed down the cheeks of zealous Flanker community activist Marilyn Nash on Monday, as President of Sandals Foundation Adam Stewart dedicated the multi-million dollar building that houses the Flanker Resource Centre in her honour.
"We felt very strongly......... and with the permission of the chairman of the community centre we felt that we should dedicate this building to a very special lady, Mrs Marilyn Nash," Stewart stated.
He noted that Nash, who has over the years been providing yeoman service to the tough Flanker community, has sat on the Supervisory Committee of the Sandals Foundation "from the outset".
"You have been the corner stone for everything we represent in this community. Clearly you are one very loved lady, not only by us, but by this community," added Stewart, who is also CEO for Sandals Resort International (SRI).
In 2004, Nash was honoured at a Heroes Day Salute ceremony in St James for her dedication to the Flanker community.
The Sandals Foundation president was speaking at the opening of the second floor of the Flanker Resource Centre which was recently constructed and furnished at a cost of $17.5 million by the foundation.
In expressing delight for her recognition, a modest Nash expressed that the dedication would serve as a heirloom.
"I am not very good with the honour part of the thing. For me its doing more. I feel good though that people appreciate what you do and it encourages you to continue. So at least I have a legacy.
Never thought that I would, but now I have a legacy so I have to give thanks," a smiling Nash told the Jamaica Observer West.
Among other provisions, the second floor houses a large auditorium and offices for the accommodation of members of the resource centre's staff.
Meanwhile, an emotional Nash, who continues to be the bedrock for social advancements in the troubled community- despite ailing for some time- heaped praises on Sandals Foundation for their unwavering support in the community over the years.
"The western business community is not very generous, and I make no apologies for saying that. And it is Sandals that bails out a lot of these communities and without you I don't know what some of us would do," declared Nash from her wheelchair.
"It is such an awesome thing to have partners who love you.
And I don't think of any other way of describing Sandals, the Stewarts and Sandals Foundation for the sentiments they have for this community."
As she chronicled the development of the resource centre, formerly called the Flanker Peace and Justice Centre, Nash recounted that in 2002, the building that now houses the resource centre was a small day care centre which was forced to close its doors because of the lack of patronage.
Following strong petition from a group in the community, the structure was acquired to set up the peace and justice centre.
However, due to space restrictions, operation in the one- room structure was severely hampered and Chairman of SRI, Gordon" Butch" Stewart chipped in with nearly $2million for the expansion of the building, which went on to among other things, facilitate a computer laboratory, classrooms and home work study centre. Mentorship, mediation and counseling are also provided at the facility.
But with the growing usage of the facility by community members, there was again need for more space and the Sandals Foundation president delivered on his promise to establish a second floor.
Some of the activities which Nash dreams of being accommodated at the expanded centre are the retraining of mediators, a special education programme, small business management training and performing arts.
Meanwhile, Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) councillor for the Flanker Division Charles Sinclair has also lauded the Sandals Foundation for their generosity to the community.
"I want to express my deepest appreciation on behalf of the wider Montego Bay to the Sandals Foundation, to the Sandals family for ensuring that this project has been completed," Sinclair stressed.
"In respect of how it is going to impact this community you cannot attach a dollar figure to that." He estimated that between Flanker and the adjoining Providence