JN Foundation and UTech Partner on Academic Programme & Research for Drought Solutions

The JN Foundation and the University of Technology (UTech) have forged a partnership to train more persons in water adaptation as one of the solutions to address the country’s drought challenges.

The partnership was formalised through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) recently, which will see the development of a course certifying persons for careers in water adaptation and research relating to rainwater harvesting and greywater recycling.

The Hon. Earl Jarrett, deputy chairman and chief executive officer of The Jamaica National Group, who signed on behalf of the JN Foundation, said that the MoU was a significant collaboration with both organisations working to protect the environment and meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

“We are committed to those goals and we have participated in other UN Sustainable Goals activities. One of our activities is that we will be developing targets for the Group over the next few months, in terms of carbon footprint; and therefore, this project fits in with what we are doing at JN Group,” he informed.

“In respect of the environment, a change in behaviour comes from learning and knowledge; and you are in a position where you are conducting research, you are teaching and communicating. And hopefully, through this MoU, we are signing today, we can get more people to use more water adaptation tools and technology. We will also communicate to Jamaicans that we have to change, in order to live longer and sustainably,” he said.

Professor Colin Gyles, president of UTech, in response, stated that the university was pleased to participate in this particularly important alliance with another home-grown Jamaican organisation.

“A part of what we must seek to practise is collaboration for the common good; and I believe that this particular partnership between two institutions, which are indelibly etched on the landscape of Jamaica, speaks volumes as what we, as a nation, should seek to do,” he said.

 “In relation to the project itself, it could have hardly come at a better time, because as we enter the drought season, we are keenly aware that Jamaica has a problem with water, the land of wood and water. The truth is, there is no reason why…with the brilliance and innovativeness of our people…we should be having that problem. And, I do believe that this project, in fostering water harvesting, water treatment, and innovation; as well as supporting the development of these, is long overdue,” he said.

Claudine Allen, general manager of the JN Foundation, said that the charitable arm of The Jamaica National Group was pleased to be teaming up with the university, to develop the course and commence the programme.

She stated that in addition to programme development, the MoU will allow for research, particularly in the areas of sustainable development, climate change, and energy efficiency; as well as related areas associated with water, housing, and land management.

The MoU was facilitated through the Water Project Jamaica, which is being administered by the JN Foundation. Its objectives are to facilitate the uptake of water adaptation measures in the housing sector across Jamaica. These include:  the use of rainwater harvesting systems; water efficient taps and showers; low-flush toilets; efficient irrigation systems; and grey water recycling facilities; as well as, other appropriate efficiency measures.

Other objectives of the project are to: increase climate resilient housing in Jamaica through greater awareness about the business and financial cases involved in developing and building homes, with water efficient measures.

The project also aims to promote efficiency in the use of water by Jamaicans in their homes; improve the reliability of water supplies; and thereby, enhance the country’s water security and climate resilience.

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Karen Oliver Is The 2020 JN Foundation Staff Scholarship Recipient

Karen Oliver, Communication Specialist in the Corporate Communications department, is the 2020 JN Foundation Staff Scholarship Recipient.

Karen, who has been employed to The Jamaica National Group since 2001, is currently pursuing a Master of Arts degree in Communication for Social and Behaviour Change, at The University of the West Indies (UWI).

“It took a few seconds to sink in, after reading the email, that I was the 2020 JN Foundation Staff Scholarship Recipient.   I’m elated to be selected, because not only will this scholarship help to offset a part of my tuition at The UWI; but the thought that I’m now a JN Foundation Scholar is also very meaningful to me.  I’m really grateful to the Foundation for this wonderful gesture,” she said, as her face lit up with pride.

Karen, who has responsibility for staff and member publications for The Jamaica National Group, is a consistent academic performer. In two consecutive years, 2018 and 2019, she was named the top overall student, in the Department of Communication Studies, at the Northern Caribbean University(NCU).She also received the Director’s Award for academic achievement, East Jamaica Regional Campus of NCU.

She graduated from that institution in 2020, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications Studies (Journalism major), Magna Cum Laude.

Karen attributes her success to hard work and determination. “These are attributes, which I have acquired over the years, and they have contributed to building my character,” she related.

She has also displayed these outstanding achievements on the job; and  she was named the Employee of the Quarter in 2012 for the Corporate Communications department; and was again a nominee for that award in 2014.  In that same year, she was appointed Respect Ambassador, to assist with culture transformation, during the transition of the Jamaica National Building Society to become a commercial bank. 

Also, in 2014, she received the inaugural Innovation Award from the Group Human Resource Development department, for initiating and implementing ‘$mart Wid Mi Money’, a unique money management programme for employees.

Tanya Pringle, executive, Corporate Communications at The Jamaica National Group, said she was proud of Karen’s achievements and her consistent high performance on the job.

“Karen is a ‘go getter’ who always excels at whatever task is given to her. She owns her projects and champions them without much supervision. I’m overjoyed at her recent accomplishment”, she said.

Karen’s other achievements include being a trained public speaker who, in 2015, achieved the Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM) designation, the highest designation in the Toastmasters International programme; Toastmaster of the Year for the JN Toastmasters Club in 2012 and 2016; as well as Toastmaster of the Year for Division B, comprising Jamaica, The Cayman Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands, in that same year.

In 2016, she achieved the most educational awards (12) in Toastmasters District 81, which comprises 24 Caribbean territories.  From 2014 to 2015, she served Toastmasters International, as one of six Area Governors for Jamaica.

In that same year, she received double recognition on the JN Wall of Fame, which was initiated to acknowledge the outstanding achievements of employees. Karen is a member of the Planning Committee of the Governor-General’s Achievement Awards programme. She is married with two daughters and enjoys speech writing, public speaking, sewing, and gardening.

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JN Foundation Launches COVID-19 Jamaica Photography Competition

The JN Foundation is inviting members of the public to submit entries to its JN Resolution Project COVID-19 Jamaica Photography Competition.
The competition provides an opportunity for Jamaicans at home and in the Diaspora to tell their own Coronavirus-related stories through the lens of their camera.
Onyka Barrett Scott, general manager of the JN Foundation, announced that the competition will not only serve as a conduit for the expression of one’s artistic talents; but is another way to contribute to the preservation of collective memory of this moment in our history, for the benefit of future Jamaicans, at home and in the Diaspora.
“At a time when families and friends are living through an uncertain and historic period, during which some families are separated, the Resolution Project offers an opportunity for hope, inspiration and memory preservation, which will benefit future generations,” Mrs Barrett Scott said.
The JN Foundation general manager stated that persons are invited to submit photos under the following themes: masked; health and fashion; changing traditions; “tan a yuh yaad”; essential workers; as well as, the hustle; and acts of kindness.
To enter the competition, persons must be 18 years or older; complete registration form and sign the Waiver of Liability, which can be found on the JN Foundation’s website at: www.www.jnfoundation.com
Submissions should be made by July 31, 2020. The winning photos will be awarded J$100,000 for first place; J$70,000 for second place and J$50,000 for third place.
The JN Resolution Project, formerly called “Youth Zoom, is an initiative of the Hon. Earl Jarrett, chief executive officer of The Jamaica National Group. The project offers a creative avenue through which young people can express and give voice to their concerns.
The fundamental goal was that students learned how to use photography to advocate for positive change, in their respective communities. 
In past times, an enlarged project scope opened the door for the photography project to be offered to disenfranchised young persons, who were not part of the formal school structure. Starting in 2010, the Photo Project was used to empower ‘at risk youth’ through the Tivoli Resolution Project, following the infamous incursion, in that community. Subsequently, the Granville Resolution Project and the Savanna-la-Mar Resolution Project, emerged.
An increasing number of schools participated in The Resolution Project and students entered the competition, with highly impressive submissions, from which several exhibitions were mounted.
Additionally, a month-long retrospective in celebration of Jamaica’s 50th anniversary displayed photographs from the project at the Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre in London, United Kingdom.

Contact:  Dionne Rose l JN Corporate Communications

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JN Group donates $1 million to assist elderly

THE work of the National Council for Senior Citizens (NCSC) — the umbrella organisation which provides support to senior citizens — was enhanced by a contribution of $1 million, thanks to Jamaica National Group.

The donation was made through the company’s recently announced Member Welfare Fund, which is to support Jamaicans in their response to the effects of COVID-19.

Cassandra Morrison, executive director of the NCSC who was a guest on the JN Circle Catch Up virtual series on May 14, said that the funds will be used to provide care packages to its members.

“We will be able to provide approximately 300 persons with food and hygiene packages. Therefore, this donation will go a long way to make life a little easier for some of our senior citizens,” she related.

Claudine Allen, member ombudsman of Jamaica National Group and team lead for the JN Circle, said Jamaica National Group was happy to make a donation to the council.

“Our senior citizens are one of the most vulnerable groups being directly affected by COVID-19. Hence, the group decided that it was fitting to make this donation to the organisation to assist its members,” Allen said.

Morrison stated that NCSC members, who are 65 years and older, are challenged based on being confined at home – which has become a new normal for them since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis locally.

She noted that, for the most part, individuals have been complying with the stay-at-home order. However, not all seniors understand the gravity of the virus.

“Some seniors are yet to fully comprehend why some of the restrictions are necessary, and why they themselves are at risk. Many seniors, particularly those in rural areas, are very independent. The threat and risk of COVID-19 is not something you can see, because it is not so tangible. And, fortunately, we are not seeing images of persons collapsing in the streets, such as what happens overseas. Consequently, it is yet to come home for some seniors,” she explained.

The executive director stated that the NCSC continues to work with the Ministry of Health and Wellness to craft messages that seniors can understand, and they work with the volunteers, on the ground, to pass on these relevant messages.

She also pointed out that the National Health Fund has been in communities providing support in filling prescriptions for seniors, and that corporate entities such as supermarkets have been delivering food items. Additionally, the council also works with volunteers who make telephone calls to seniors to check up on them.

“One of the main things that we would like Jamaicans to do is to protect the elderly and urge them to comply with the rules laid out by the Ministry of Health and Wellness [for them] to stay at home. We don’t want to look back post-COVID-19 and discover that we lost a generation of elderly citizens because we were careless,” she said.

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Green Acres Nazarene Early Childhood School Assisted by JN Bank

When students at the Green Acres Nazarene Early Childhood Institution resume school after COVID-19, they will return to classrooms which are leak-free, courtesy of JN Bank.
“It has been more than one year since we have been trying to fix the roof; however, when it rains the roof continued to leak; and we had to move the children around to keep them dry,” explained Kalor Witter, principal of the St Catherine based institution.

She stated that JN Bank, through its Member Advisory Council, was approached for assistance and the financial institution responded favourable to the request.

“We, therefore, thank JN Bank for the work they have done. It is really appreciated; and we look forward to continue working with them,” she said.

Mrs Witter stated that the work, which included repairs to the roof, will provide a safer and more comfortable environment for learning; and for the preparation of meals, especially during bad weather. Signs were also installed at the institution. This, she noted, will aid in visibility and promotion of institution, to generate increased enrolment.

The 27-year-old school, with a student population of 73, serves the communities of Dover, Johnson Pen, Red Pond, Mercury Gardens, Old Road and Kitson Town in the parish of St Catherine.

A Christian institution, which caters to the holistic development of children ages three to six years, Mrs Witter said the school has been doing well; and has produced some excellent students.

Michelle Hinds, business relationship and sales manager, at the JN Bank’s Spanish Town branch, stated that she was happy that JN Bank was able to assist the educational institution.

“We are delighted to provide assistance for the school by repairing the roof. It is our hope that the students will be more comfortable in an environment which is conducive to learning even when rain falls.”

Miss Hinds pointed out that, “The JN MAC believed that this was a worthy cause; and, therefore, we decided to assist. The school is an asset to the communities it serves; and, it is our hope that the institution will continue to provide service in many years to come.”

Future community projects led by JN MAC will now be executed by the recently established JN Circle, a network of service clubs, which have been established to undertake activities that were previously pursued by JN MAC.

Contact:  Dionne Rose l JN Corporate Communications

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Green Acres Early Childhood

Kalor Witter (right), principal of the Green Acres Nazarene Early Childhood School gives a tour of the school as completed work on the roof  was examined. Participating in the tour were (from left) Ariel Sinclair, acting business relationship sales manager, JN Bank; Chevanese Peters,project coordinator at the JN Foundation and Pastor Phillip Johnson, JN member

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JN Bolsters Nurses’ Fight Against COVID-19

The Jamaica National Group has contributed some $1.5 million to the Nurses Association of Jamaica (NAJ), to assist the country’s nurses in their fight against the spread of COVID-19.
The donation was made through the company’s recently announced Welfare Fund to support Jamaicans in their response to the effects of the disease.
Speaking on Thursday, May 7 during the JN Circle Catch Up virtual series broadcast via The Jamaica National Group’s Facebook page, president of the NAJ, Carmen Johnson noted that funds will be used to further protect nurses from exposure to the infectious disease.
“Our greatest concern is that we do not want our members to be overly exposed to COVID-19,” she pointed out. “Therefore, what we have agreed to do with that money is to source cloth masks for all our nurses; and we want to ensure that they have pockets so that they can change the filter,” she related, commending the JN Group for the contribution.
The NAJ president pointed out that discrimination from the public and within healthcare facilities continues to be a challenge for its members, although there has been some improvement in attitudes.   
“The greatest challenge that we have presently is two-fold. One, is the fact that we still have some level of discrimination, both in and out of the care facilities and the reason we are getting is because of the fear factor. Persons fear catching COVID-19 and one of the things is that they see our nurses as the transmission mode of the disease,” she related.
She noted that the attitudes of taxi men towards nurses have improved and nurses are no longer being shunned by operators, but she said the curfew poses a challenge to those who need to access transportation, especially in rural areas.
Beyond those challenges, however, Mrs Johnson said members of the public need to play their part to keep the number of COVID-19 cases down. She pointed out that many persons seem not to be taking the pandemic seriously because of the low number of deaths.
“We can’t wait until our numbers start to surge and our deaths increase, as we see happening elsewhere on our television, or hear on our radios. Therefore, everyone needs to really start playing their part, practice proper hand washing hygiene; but most of all, stay home if you don’t have to come out,” she urged.
The ‘JN Circle Catch UP’, will continue to focus on coping during the pandemic, next week. The series is broadcasted weekly, via Facebook Live, on The Jamaica National Group’s Facebook page at 6:00 p.m.

 

Contact:  Dionne Rose l JN Corporate Communications

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Monetise Your Talent During COVID-19 – Miller

FINANCIAL LITERACY expert Rose Miller is encouraging persons who have lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19 to look at ways to monetise their skills, to assist in earning an income.

“We all have gifts. Try and identify if there is a gift that you can use to earn an income. In fact, even while we are employed now, we do need more than one stream of income. Therefore, if we have a gift or talent, the aim should be to monetise that gift or talent to provide or boost your income,” she advised.

Miller, who is also the grants manager at the JN Foundation, gave this advice while addressing a ‘JN Circle Catch-Up’ session, a video series of conversations about how Jamaicans can come together to overcome various challenges associated with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

She encouraged persons to identify existing needs and seek to fill those gaps to earn an income. She noted that with the current high demand for masks and sanitisers, for example, several persons and companies have either entered into these markets, or diversified their product line to take advantage of the opportunities.

“We need to be creative and think outside of the box, because there are opportunities, and we should find the vision to tap into them,” she said.

To date, many persons have lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The local tourism industry, which is has been hit hardest, accounts for some nine per cent of the country’s gross domestic product

The JN Foundation grants manager recommended that persons use the downtime presented by the pandemic to upskill and retrain themselves. She noted that there are numerous online courses currently being offered, which anyone can access free of cost.

“We are going to come out of COVID-19, therefore now is the time to retrain.”

Miller also encouraged Jamaicans to visit the JN Group’s website, www.jngroup.com/covid-19help, for information about how The JN Group is assisting persons to respond to COVID-19, and watch upcoming segments of the JN Circle Catch-Up series, which will focus on coping during the pandemic. The series is broadcasted via Facebook Live weekly on The Jamaica National Group’s Facebook page at 6 p.m.

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Be Wise: Become Financially Literate During COVID-19 Pandemic

THE RISE in cases of COVID-19 has already caused economic fallout across the globe, and the forecast is for the situation to worsen. Efforts to contain the spread of the highly infectious disease have caused a surge in business closures, resulting in the loss of jobs in a variety of industries, including tourism and hospitality, which comprise hotels, restaurants and bars. Airlines and business process outsourcing facilities have also been affected.

Rose Miller, head of the JN BeWi$e Empowerment Programme, said consequently, the number of Jamaicans feeling the financial strain in the short and medium term is significant and likely to climb even further as the real impact of the pandemic unfolds in the months ahead.

The Ministry of Finance and the Public Service has revealed that it received just under 500,000 applications for the various financial assistance packages for Jamaicans facing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19.

“This is not surprising,” remarked Miller. “Many Jamaicans were living from pay cheque to pay cheque even before the pandemic. This means they have little or no savings to cover unexpected expenses. A crisis of this proportion only makes matters worse.”

She noted that while the Government has implemented several initiatives, including the COVID-19 Allocation of Resources for Employees programme, designed to cushion the economic impact of the pandemic and to put cash in the hands of the most vulnerable, receiving one-time payments is only a short-term solution.

“It is a time for everyone to ensure that they are making wise financial decisions. Further, this is why financial education is so important for a nation,” she said. “It is this awareness and practice that will help Jamaicans to successfully manoeuvre the financial landscape, which can be quite complex during times like these.”

Miller said that with April being observed as Financial Literacy Month, it is an opportune time to focus on the importance of financial literacy and to provide practical ways to help people cope.

Miller, who is also grants manager at the JN Foundation, is reminding Jamaicans to revisit the idea of using a budget. “This is an effective money-management tool which can help us achieve our financial goals. For many facing hardship imposed by the current pandemic, the goal right now is simply to be able to purchase food and pay existing bills,” she said.

The financial education expert suggested a few steps people can take right now to manage their budget wisely, while awaiting a return to something like normality.

START WITH YOUR INCOME AND ASSETS
She informed that there are two sides to budgeting: income and expenses. “The first step in crafting a budget at this time is for persons to assess whether the household income has been affected by job loss, lay-off or reduced hours, all of which would reduce the amount of money the family has to spend,” she advised.

“This will give you an idea of how deeply you’ll need to cut your budget. Though it’s not an ideal situation, succeeding financially through this crisis demands a lifestyle adjustment to the new realities, such as cutting down or cutting out certain expenses altogether to stay afloat. Therefore, a realistic family budget should be a critical part of your coronavirus response strategy,” she stated.

Miller noted that for people who were able to put away some savings and create an emergency fund, they can now tap into this resource. “Ideally, you should have an emergency fund that can cover three to six months’ worth of expenses. If you have other forms of investments, these can also be used to shore up your income.”

TAKE CARE OF THE ESSENTIALS
The JN manager further advised persons to prioritise their spending to take care of the needs of the family. “Start with what’s likely your biggest expense, which is housing. If you’re a homeowner, there may be a silver lining amid the coronavirus crisis, in that many mortgage lenders are offering their customers relief at this time.”

Miller advised persons with outstanding mortgages to reach out to their lenders. “They can walk you through what your options are for reducing or suspending your mortgage payments temporarily. It is a good idea to accept this assistance, as it will boost your cash flow.”

Another consideration is for homeowners to refinance their home loan. She said that with mortgage loan rates at or nearing historic lows, it may be an opportune time for persons to refinance their mortgage at a lower rate. “That should curtail the monthly payments and save you money on housing costs,” she explained.

Miller said renters may not have the same level of flexibility. “Ideally, you should continue meeting this obligation to avoid eviction, but if you can’t because your income has taken a hard hit, speak with your landlord to see what arrangements can be made.”

She added, “As everyone tries to cope with the current crisis, having a good level of financial awareness and knowledge will be beneficial to navigate the financial spaces by seeking various solutions to help you weather this financial storm.”

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JN Establishes Welfare Fund To Ease COVID-19 Burden

THE JAMAICA National Group has established a member welfare fund to ease the burden for its members and customers who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jamaica National Group CEO Earl Jarrett made the announcement of the fund while addressing a ‘JN Circle Catch-Up’, a video series of conversations about how Jamaicans can come together to overcome the deadly pandemic.

“We have identified funds which will be delivered through the JN Circle network and their membership, who will determine how these funds will be used in respective communities,” he explained.

Jarrett said the fund will be administered by the JN Foundation and will seek to address the needs of members in the 13 communities across the island where the JN Circle chapters are located.

“It could be supporting an individual, a cause, the community itself, or for sanitisers, masks for the police. These are things which the JN Circles can respond to through the pool of funds that will be made available to their clubs,” he explained.

THE JN CIRCLE
The JN Circle is a network of clubs, comprised of JN members and customers of the JN Group. It was introduced in August 2019 and allows members and customers, who share JN’s values, to take action to improve outcomes for themselves and fellow Jamaicans.

“This initiative helps us to ensure we respond to the unique needs of our members,” said Claudine Allen, member ombudsman. “JN’s intervention will be relevant to each community and will reflect the will of our members and customers.”

In addition to the welfare fund, Jarrett said that the JN Group will also seek to improve the financial awareness of members.

“As we go through the period of this pandemic, our people also need to plan financially. We have seen some hotels close their doors, and many persons are worried about their jobs. Therefore, what we are seeking to do is assist persons to understand that even in this situation, there are things that they can do to manage the crisis,” he said.

 

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