Le Antonio's Foundation cops mayor's award for work in MoBay's innercitiesThursday, October 22, 2020
BY ONOME SIDO
MONTEGO BAY, St James - Many may know him as the CEO of McKoy News, an online news outlet, or as a building contractor. But Antonio McKoy is also a philanthropist who has created his non-profit organisation — Le Antonio's Foundation— to positively steer the children and young adults across inner-city communities in Montego Bay by creating well-needed programmes especially for those residing in Railway Lane, Barnett Lane and Lightbody Ave — the three communities which are within the environs of his work office.
One of the main projects currently being undertaken by the foundation is the End Bullying Campaign, which McKoy said was influenced by observing the youths in the inner-city community of Railway Lane and its environs, and reports of bullying in the media.
“There was a story of a young adult who had committed suicide as a result of bullying and seeing how the youths operate in the inner-city area where my office is located, are the reasons why I decided to start this campaign. The End Bullying Campaign is an anti-bullying campaign where we counsel children and young adults through an anti-bullying education programme which sensitises them about bullying and the harmful effects of it. Bullying is a big issue that many people do not pay attention to, maybe because Jamaica is a violent society, so we accept aggressive behaviour as normal. It is in the communities and it is in your face every day, so it is important, which is why we have been leading that charge since 2016,” McKoy argued.
Not just focused on only bullying, McKoy has expanded his office space to provide Internet service to 12 students so they can have access to online learning; as well as hot meals on Fridays for children, especially for those residing in the Barnett Lane and Railway Lane communities.
“Many parents in those communities do not have Internet. We have a feeding programme since COVID-19 where we give children hot meals on Fridays,” he noted.
“We have several programmes which many students have benefitted from. Over the summer, the Le Antonio's Foundation Art Programme began on the 10th of August with 23 students, which was later reduced to 14 students with a specific interest in art. They were presented with a canvas and the necessary tools for them to produce their best piece of art using the topic 'Nature and Peace.' They all benefitted financially with back-to-school assistance as their reward for being a part of the programme.”
He says he receives “incredible support” from Hanover Charities, Junior Plus, Doctor's Cave Beach Club, who funded four months of their feeding programme, Janet Silvera, the president of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, who, in conjunction with Master Works , sponsored a refrigerator for the centre, and Richard Vernon, deputy mayor of Montego Bay, who donated two tablets to students.
In the past, the foundation, which was established in 2013, has also operated a homework centre for inner-city students and staged annual back-to-school and Christmas treats for scores of children.
On Heroes' Day, Le Antonio's Foundation was among the seven individuals and one entity to be awarded the mayor's special award at the National Heroes' Day Salute, State and Civic Awards Ceremony held under the theme: 'Celebrating a Heritage of Resilience and Pride' at the Montego Bay Cultural Centre in St James.
The foundation copped the award in recognition of its contribution to community service. But even though McKoy is happy for the recognition, he stressed that “the foundation is not working for awards”.
“It feels good to be recognised, but it is all about serving the community. It is not about winning anything for me, it is about doing what's right for our community. It is important for us as humans to serve our communities in different areas. As Le Antonio's Foundation tagline says, 'Serving Humanity', so I believe that whenever there is a need, we should rise up and do something about it especially if it is for the young ones to live a better life. We really need to prepare our young people for a better tomorrow,” he argued.
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