Front-line worker gets car wish from NCB Foundation
Gilonie Merchant (centre), patient care attendant at National ChestHospital, is overwhelmed after seeing the 2021 Kia Niro gifted to her bythe National Commercial Bank Jamaica Limited (NCBJ) last Friday.

Goosebumps covered all who watched as Gilonie Merchant opened her eyes to see her wish granted— a car.

Merchant, a patient care attendant at the National Chest Hospital, was surprised during her shift last Friday morning, by National Commercial Bank Jamaica Limited (NCBJ), with a 2021 Kia Niro.

Her joy was contagious as she fell to her knees upon being told the white hybrid crossover was hers.

Merchant, 40, was the first to have her wish granted in the NCB Foundation's Grant a Wish programme, after the team at NCB saw her story on Television Jamaica's ( TVJ) All Angles in September.

Then, she detailed her feelings of devastation at caring for patients affected by COVID-19, only to hear they had passed when she returned to work.

Her tears ran freely as she recounted to host Dionne Jackson Miller of her work, the effects the regular losses have on her mental wellness and a patient's pronouncement of blessing.

Merchant said the patient, battling COVID-19 and lupus, was feeling low but still prayed with her.

“I was there encouraging her and first thing she said to me was 'the Lord bless you' and I said to her, 'I wish he would bless me with a car'', Merchant said in the interview aired on TVJ.

“I said to her 'thank you for the blessing and that I wished it could get me a car, because I am tired of walking'. She said, 'don't worry, just be humble' and… when I came [back to work] she was leaving in a body bag. It pains my heart,” said Merchant.

It was that moving interview that spurred the NCBJ team to make hers the first wish granted for 2021.

“Anyone who watched that interview was moved. The decision to gift her this vehicle was easy for us at NCB. She is a front-line worker and it is obvious that everyone loves her,” said Sheree Martin, head of Retail Banking and Customer Experience at NCBJ.

Merchants's co-workers, supervisors and the doctors on-call all cheered for her good fortune.

Sister Thamra Thompson-Dennis, her immediate supervisor, declared that Merchant's hard work is being rewarded.

“She takes very good care for patients and you can call upon her to assist in whatever you're doing,” said Thompson-Dennis.

“She is always an ambitious, goal-oriented person; trying to achieve the highest in whatever she does.

“Since she was on the TV programme she has been doing driving lessons and I am always troubling her about it saying that she needs to get the car first,” added Thompson-Dennis laughingly. “We're really happy for her.”

That sentiment was on the lips of everyone from the hospital who saw that her wish for a car was granted.

When she could finally find the words, Merchant gave a rousing prayer of thanks.

“I love my job. It pays to be nice; to be kind. It pays to be caring to people. Thank you NCB Foundation.”

NCBJ, through the NCB Foundation, has earmarked $15 million to share for individuals and institutions nominated on its philanthropic programme.

Grant a Wish was officially launched on November 19 and will allow votes by the public until December 5 on grantawish.jncb.com.

Merchant shows off the key to her 2021 Kia Niro at the handover last Friday while her co-worker and friend Andrea Grant accompanies herin the passenger seat.

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