Social Welfare Accomplishments | July 21, 2017 | Robin Stewart-Barnett
The United Friends of Highgate is considered the leading Highgate Community Development Organization responsible for governing the community [SDC Highgate Community Priority Plan 2017]. It is therefore incumbent on us to make social welfare a primary focus. However, social welfare as a system is very broad in scope. As a result, our services in assisting needy individuals and families overlaps other areas such as health and education. This has caused us to select exacting activities to categorize as social welfare.
Feeding the needy in Highgate: We launched our social welfare program by providing food for needy individuals in Highgate. In December, our Highgate chapter selected some of the neediest residents who are unable to feed themselves regularly. Each was analyzed and based on predetermined criteria fifty was selected to receive gift food vouchers that year. Each person was provided a US$25 food voucher to ensure that they had a healthy meal during December but particularly at Christmas time. For the last seven years we select fifty individuals for food vouchers in December.
Port Maria Infirmary: Once per year, in conjunction with our Highgate counterpart, our Social Welfare committee visits the Port Maria Infirmary. This infirmary serves many communities in St. Mary including Highgate. The committees primary purpose is to feed the needy patients at this institution. However, we have been a primary source for the sustenance of that institution, providing them with twenty beds and bed covers, equipment and supplies such as wheel chairs, walkers and clothes.
Over the past two years, recognizing the need for recreation, the chair of the social welfare committee provided the institution with televisions for both sitting halls. Most patients are very grateful for the opportunity to watch their favorite programs. Others are too sick to leave their beds.
Garden, Solar Welcome Sign and Street Mirrors: Our Restoration committee launched a botanical garden at the crossroads leading to Richmond and Kingston (approaching from Highgate) and adjacent to the St. Mary High School. This was launched as a Labor Day project and each year for the past four years on Labor Day residents gather to paint the sidewalk and beautify the garden.
Two years ago, the Restauration committee, assisted with local Highgaters, constructed a “WELCOME TO HIGHGATE” sign at the approach to the town at the Botanical garden. This sign is powered by solar energy.
There were serious safety concerns at the crossroads called “Steel Corner” (roads going north towards Port Maria, east to Albany and south to bypass Highgate towards Kingston}. Motorists approaching from Highgate could not see those approaching from south or north. With the Highgate Primary and Junior School adjacent to the intersection this caused even more concern for the pedestrian children at this intersection. The Florida Restoration Committee with the Highgate Chapter erected a Mirror at the intersection that allowed approaching vehicles to see each other. Safety concerns were considerably lessened.
Shelter for the Homeless: An elderly man, who lived and worked in Highgate since he was a child, found himself without a pension and no place to live. Along with the church the Highgate chapter of UFOH we spearheaded a project to build a home for him. A local citizen willingly donated a small parcel of land and the Highgate chapter coordinated the building of a small house in which the gentleman now resides. This type of project is badly needed in the community and we are planning to continue assisting the homeless with shelter.
Clock Painted: On November 5, 2011, the Jamaica Gleaner under the headline. “Friends Of Highgate To The Rescue” reported that, “Friends of Highgate, a group of civic-minded Jamaicans based here and in the United States committed to the up-liftment of the Highgate, has repainted the clock tower and plans are under way to repair the clock. Again, this effort was led by the Highgate chapter and the restoration committee.
Prep and Primary School Football Competition: We partner with the Central District Association to create the Stanley Amritt-United Friends of Highgate and Central District Association Prep and Primary School football competition. This competition was created to honor Mr. Stanley Amritt who has supported sports and education in the area for most of his 94 years.