Rick's Café commits $600,000 annually to assist with Internet data for students

NEGRIL, Westmoreland — The famous Rick's Café in Negril that had found itself in hot water earlier this year over COVID-19 protocols has pledged to donate $600,000 annually to the Rotary Club of Negril to assist with the purchasing of Internet data for needy students participating in online learning.

In fact, the popular entertainment and eatery spot, which was accused of breaching the COVID-19 regulations while hosting the popular Mocha Fest party on May 27 in the resort town of Negril, has already donated $100,000 towards the provision of Internet data.

The 47-year-old entity's operations manager, Thomas Martin, told the Jamaica Observer West on Monday, following the handing over a cheque for $50,000 to the Rotary Club for the month of October, that the intention is to make available $50,000 per month to the club for the life span of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“We did a donation last month, we are doing one this month and we would like to continue through the pandemic, continue through the online teaching which can be very difficult for the kids (children). So, they are not only stressed about the online teaching but how to get the money to finance it to actually get online. So, we do not want to leave anyone out. Our Jamaican youths are so intelligent, so bright, so energetic and we do not want to leave anybody out,” Martin argued after handing over the cheque at the entity's property located on Negril's West End Road.

Stressing that the initiative is the start of a fruitful relationship, Martin said the children can depend on Rick's Café's commitment throughout the pandemic.

“Here is the thing, if it is not online credit to learn, there are other things that these kids need. If it is back-to-school [physical classroom presence], you need books, you need pens, and you need papers. Are we going to have online school along with in-school? We are not sure, but we are here for the children of Negril and outline areas,” assured Martin.

Martin argued that when someone, a company or a corporation is donating, “it is important to see where the money goes.”

He said his entity is confident with the work of the Rotary Club in Negril.

“We feel so happy that we can work it through the Rotary Club because the Rotary Club is the key here. Let's not make any mistake about this, the Rotary Club of Negril has done fantastic things, from the donkey races which is used to assist kids who can't afford it, you name it, and now they are on the online school [project],” stated Martin, adding “they are making a serious effort to get this done and we are happy to be a part of it.”

President of the Rotary Club of Negril, Ramon Bremmer, said the hope is to assist up to 30 students per month. He argued that families in the Negril area, some of whom are not working, are happy with the assistance given to the children.

“I know the families are very happy to receive this because you know when you are not working and you have to spend that additional money to provide data, it is good to be able to receive some kind of assistance and help, so your kids can be online. I know the parents really want their children to be online. So, as a club, we are honoured that Rick's chose to partner with us to help with this initiative,” stated Bremmer.

The Rotary president noted that the club has a scholarship programme in place that is aimed at assisting children to get to school. However, with classes being diverted to online because of the ongoing pandemic, the club has decided to assist students instead with data. He said the club has also assisted in getting tablets for some students.

Bremmer further used the opportunity to call on other stakeholders in the Negril area to “partner with the Rotary Club of Negril so that we can get even more kids connected and get them online so that they can do their work.”

This is the new way of teaching and learning and we have to jump on board and work with it so that we can get our kids educated during these challenging times,” he further argued.

Apart from Rick's Café's presentation on Monday, a United States of America citizen, who is currently vacationing in Negril, heard about the work of the Rotary Club of Negril through friends who are a part of the club, and decided to make his contribution.

Jeff Nistel, a resident of Ohio, made a commitment of US$500 to the Rotary Club of Negril. He said the money is to be used to assist the club in getting the Internet service for children and tablet devices.

Nistel disclosed that similarly to Jamaica, US educators and students, also face their fair challenges with online learning.

“Jamaica has more of a challenge than the US. The US has more resources, but there are a lot of kids in the US who are also struggling with being out of school and not having access [to the Internet] but here [Jamaica], it is more of a struggle,” stated Nistel, as he expressed hope that things will get better soon.

Kadian Anderson of Sheffield All-Age School is one of the many students in the Negril area who is having a challenge with her Internet.

“I am having a lot of difficulties with buying [mobile] credit every day just to put on my phone to go to morning and evening classes,” stated Kadian, adding that “I am having challenges with my Internet that is always chipping in and out.”

ANDERSON… I am having a lot ofdifficulties with buying [mobile] creditevery day
BREMMER… we are honoured thatRick's chose to partner with us to helpwith this initiative
MARTIN… we are happy to be a part ofit
NISTEL…Jamaica has more of achallenge than the US
Rick Café's Operation Manager Thomas Martin (back row, second right) joins executive members of the Rotary Club of Negril and students who will benefit from the Internetdata initiative. (Photos: Anthony Lewis)
BY ANTHONY LEWIS Observer West writer

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