Vanessa Lalasingh is Positively Impacting the Environment

Vanessa Lalasingh’s love for the environment was inculcated at a young age. As a child, the St Andrew-bred attorney spent holidays in Banks District on the vast Vere Plains of Clarendon where she climbed trees, ran barefooted on the sandy banks of the Rio Minho, in which she also swam, and frolicked at nearby beaches.

“From an early age, spending time with my family in the country, I came to believe life is simple until we complicate it, because the environment supports life and happiness,” she reminisced on her childhood holidays along the Clarendon coast.

Her love for the environment was deepened and further nourished in high school. At Ardenne High School in St Andrew, she was a member of the Environmental Club and held the post of President for many years.

“It was really a good club. At our club meetings we would create beautiful and useful things from recycled material, routinely selling some to fund the club. We talked about technology and ways to save water and preserve the environment,” she informed. “Every year we would create a two-storey Christmas tree entirely of recycled materials as the centrepiece of the school’s Christmas event. It was always elegant, and that cemented the fact in my mind that recycled things can easily be very chic instead of shabby.”

Vanessa participating in beach clean-up activities along the Palisadoes with Don’t Count Me Out Foundation.

The Legal Counsel, who works at The Jamaica National Group, continued on the trajectory when she moved on to tertiary studies at The University of West Indies, Mona campus, where she volunteered at community clean-ups, among other environmental related activities.

She said life became hectic in those intensive years of studying, but after graduation, she continued to volunteer in whatever way she could on environmental projects.

“I never lost that love for nature and animals, so I have been the type who always has pets; encourages animals to come around; and subscribes to everything about sustainable living tips. I love plants so I started planting dwarfed fruit trees in pots and that became a hobby,” she said, explaining how she translates her love of nature while living in an urban area.

Today, her home is like an oasis, surrounded by plants and animals. She is keen on keeping indoor plants, such as Snake plants, also called Mother In-law’s Tongue, and ZZ plants (Zanzibar Gems) that purify the air. She also surrounds her house with birdfeeders and plants that invite pollinators so the birds can feed in a natural environment.

“I feel like living in the city we get so disconnected from the things that keep us both physically but especially mentally healthy. We complain about air quality and water shortages but make daily decisions that disrupt ecological cycles and create those problems. So, I kind of took an approach that anything that concerns me, I try to seek a natural remedy for it first instead of going for the easiest chemical or disposables to purchase,” she pointed out.

Her love for nature and caring for the environment has rubbed off on her friends and colleagues who she gifts plants and “drags” along on hikes outside of the city and to agricultural shows to deepen their appreciation for nature and encourage them to also become bastions of the environment.

Beyond ensuring that she is surrounded by nature, Ms Lalasingh is also very conscious about energy conservation and ensures that she installs energy and water saving devices in her home. She boasts that with the installation of these devices, her light and water bills are much lower than a household that does not have these devices.

“I’m a big advocate for using technology to save money in the long-term and plan my purchases that way. We all want to save money. We’ve come so far with technology and reducing the cost of it. I just think we need to pay attention to using it in a sustainable way. You don’t need a roof of solar panels to start. Solar lights, smart plugs and other small devices make a really noticeable impact with no additional effort and actually increase my daily comfort,” she said. 

Today, she remains actively involved in environmental initiatives as a member of the ‘Don’t Count me Out’ Foundation, which was started in August 2020. The main focus areas of the foundation are community development, education, and the environment. They routinely carry out beach clean-up and tree planting exercises.

As a project manager at the Foundation, she said her position allows her to contribute meaningfully to protecting the environment and other uplifting activities. At The Jamaica National Group, where she works, she also participates in some of the JN Foundation’s outreach activities.

Ms Lalasingh’s encourages other to “Be open about your interest in the environment, however small it may feel. This attracts others with the same values and makes it into a lifestyle that you don’t even think about. You will always be getting tried and true tricks and ideas from likeminded people that will fit seamlessly into your everyday life and become impactful.”

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We Need a National Spatial Plan Experts Say

In the face of more frequent and intensified climatic events, two experts agree that Jamaica must rely on its existing systems and policies to work to strengthen the country’s resilience to climate change.

For Dr Carol Archer, Urban planner and professor in the Faculty of the Built Environment at the University of Technology, Jamaica, the completion of the National Spatial Plan is foremost.

“That would help to direct us with what to do with an area such as Port Maria,” she said, referencing the St Mary parish capital to the northeast of the island, which experienced severe flooding almost a year ago following heavy rains. The flooding affected the entire town, inundating buildings and homes with muck and debris.

“It would not be a question of relocating, but looking at where you put certain services within the parish (St Mary), so you’d have to get your data and analyse your trends and it would show you: ‘In Port Maria, these are the predominant activities, and these are activities that will have an impact over X number of years’, and they will have a relationship with these [particular] areas, and we’d have to use that to make a decision,” she said.

“That is what is needed in the short to medium term.”  

The last spatial plan for Jamaica, the Jamaica National Physical Plan, covered development of the country from 1970 to 1998.

Housing and construction professional, Earl Samuels, adds that the systems for monitoring and maintenance of the country’s urban infrastructure also need to work. Although pointing out that maintenance is not only within the remit of the state, he also insisted that a significant portion of the responsibility must be shouldered by regulators.

Poor maintenance of roads, gullies, bridges, and other infrastructure have been continuously blamed for disasters triggered by climatic occurrences, including the flooding of Port Maria.

The financier, who is also the chief development financing officer for the JN Group and a former managing director of the National Housing Trust, noted that while financial institutions can hold developers they finance to account by monitoring their projects and insisting on the implementation of certain measures, only a small percentage of developments are funded by private institutions.

“So, several are not adhering to best practices,” he outlined, emphasising that the state of inadequate monitoring has left room for breaches, which impact on the wider built environment.

Dr Archer agreed that the issue of maintenance is among the sorest points for many urban centres.

“You don’t maintain the roads; you don’t maintain the [drains and] sewage systems. The population is growing, but you don’t provide the necessary systems to ensure that they get adequate water… All of those things contribute to the [issue] that we are experiencing now,” she said. 

Making a comparison to the city of Miami, Florida in the United States of America, she underscored that although sections of that city are prone to flooding, it is mitigated by an effective maintenance system, which enables the city to build resilience. 

“If you have a broken-down car that you’re driving in flood water, it’s not going to be like having a relatively new car that was being maintained. It’s the same principle that applies to your urban infrastructure,” she argued.

Mr Samuels maintained that better monitoring and supervision of developments in and around urban spaces is critical to building resilience against climate activities. 

“With the expansion of housing development, especially in the coastal areas and, in the hilly regions surrounding urban centres, where vegetation is being cleared, the runoff from the rainwater tends to come down in greater volume and rapidly, because you don’t have the vegetation to trap the water from rainfall before it gets to these coastal towns,” he pointed out.

“And the drainage, with the increase in commercial activities and the increase in the density of these towns, you have more garbage and refuse being produced and they are not properly stored, they are thrown in the drains and gullies,” he painted a picture of the dilemma facing several towns across the country.

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Balanced Engineering Needed to Strengthen Resilience

With maintenance among the most problematic issues for infrastructural and development projects in Jamaica, executive director of the Mona GeoInformatics Institute (MGI), Dr Ava Maxam says a better balance of both soft and hard engineering will preserve the country’s physical infrastructure and mitigate damage to the environment, as well as to lives and livelihoods.

Dr Ava Maxam, executive director of the Mona GeoInformatics Institute (MGI)

“Without a doubt, maintenance is our main issue,” she quipped during a conversation with a team from The Jamaica National Group recently. The JN Group, through the JN Foundation, launched a comprehensive environmental programme in 2022 geared towards promoting environmental awareness, and focuses on key areas such as deforestation, waste management, water conservation and energy efficiency.

Dr Maxam noted that Jamaica has a poor history of maintaining its civil infrastructure. The absence of this keen approach to maintenance contributes to disastrous consequences during climatic hazards, such as heavy rainfall.

Better mixing of hard engineering solutions with soft environmental measures make maintenance easier, she insists, but the balance is missing in the pursuit of many of the country’s modern projects.

“For example, nowadays when we are building coastal roads there should be soft measures in place. So you want to know that your seagrass, coral reefs and mangroves are in place and thriving, along with that coastal road development. It’s not enough to just pave the road or raise it,” she said.

“We’ve seen where that makes maintenance easier,” she added, pointing out that seagrass and mangroves help to buffer the shoreline, reducing the level of maintenance required.  

However, she believes while conscientious and ethical practices should prevail, legislating maintenance may be necessary to ensure it is carried out consistently and correctly in order to mitigate damage and loss to life and property.

“It may be [that] our laws need to catch up [by] building in maintenance regulations from the very beginning,” she argued.

Luke Buchanan, senior projects manager at MGI

How that could be enforced, Luke Buchanan, senior projects manager at MGI surmised, is during the development application process.

“For example, when you go to NEPA (National Environment and Planning Agency), if there is a clause to say, your project can’t go through [for approval] until it has certain maintenance plans in place, you can enforce it in that way,” he argued.

“It should be part of your sustainability plan,” Dr Maxam chimed in. “So if more emphasis is placed on what it will take to maintain these systems, then that will go a far way in making the system last, once it is implemented.”

Referencing the approach taken by her own organisation to underscore the point, Dr Maxam indicated that MGI, which innovates and deploys various software applications for governments and other agencies locally and regionally, insists on entities having a maintenance plan in place to support any solution provided.

“One of the first things we tell clients is that you have to think of maintenance from system planning stages, before we (MGI) build platforms or even code – before we go any further… You can’t just think of building something, implement, then expect it to run itself. You have to execute a thorough maintenance strategy immediately on deployment for sustaining that system for the long run,” she said.

She argued that the failure to maintain and expand drainage systems in urban areas, for example, has been a major cause for flooding along with various other factors to include:  failure to expand the infrastructure to match the increased population and development; poor solid waste disposal habits; deforestation in the hinterlands around urban centres, including removal of mangrove forests. They contribute to increased vulnerability of areas such as Port Maria, St Mary, which, in February 2022, faced a catastrophic deluge following heavy rains. 

“This issue of urban spread – you’re having a lot more paved surfaces, a lot more people and buildings with out-of-date, inadequate infrastructure; once there is this high density of people and buildings with no combination of expansion and modernisation of the drainage itself, you’re going to find that’s going to be disastrous when natural hazards impact these locations,” Dr Maxam said.

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Stuart Reeves’ Passion for Empowering through Photography

Stuart Reeves was only six years-old when he developed a love for the camera, which was first introduced to him by his father, a fireman and hobbyist photographer.

His love for the art form blossomed, and more than six decades later, the educator continues to teach photography and mentor budding photographers.

“Photography is an experience. It is going out and seeing an image and capturing it in the best way, using whatever techniques and processes to get that image. When you have that final image and you realise that is what you saw in your mind and that is what you got in front of you, it can be very rewarding,” he shared.

Reeves, who was born in the United Kingdom, came to Jamaica to complete a one-year tenure as a volunteer teacher in 1970. He was planted at the Glengoffe High School in St Catherine, where he taught Industrial Arts. But what was supposed to be only a gap year for the Englishman after completing his tertiary studies in the UK, turned into half a century, as he put down roots on the island.

The educator taught at various institutions over the years, including the Mico Teachers College (now the Mico University College), Fair Prospect High School in Portland, where he was principal from 1991 to 1995; and Jamaica College, where he served from 1995 -2003. He then served the Ministry of Education as an education officer before retiring in 2004.

Wherever he taught or served, Mr Reeves always tried to engage his students in photography by establishing photography clubs in the institutions he was placed.

Following his retirement, he received the opportunity to do more impactful mentoring of young people, using photography, through the JN Foundation Resolution project in 2010.

“When I was working with the Ministry of Education, I had gone into Rose Town and I heard that there was a photography exhibition going on nearby and that was the JN Foundation Resolution Project. I went across and saw the exhibition and I was really enthralled,” he said.

Mr Reeves was invited to join the team where he was involved in mentoring new cohorts of photography students.

“The JN Resolution Project was an opportunity to engage children. The project had this big thing about advocating with the camera. The students really took to it. We had to teach them what advocacy was and how you advocated using the camera,” he explained.

He recalled that the students were given themes to work with and they were sent to their community to capture images associated with the themes. Workshops were also conducted with the children to teach them about the correct techniques of using the camera and about advocacy.

“They came from diverse communities so when we gave them themes to work with, they interpreted them in their communities, which was important. So, it was not a case where everyone came back with the same types of images. They were really coming back with unique individual images,” he disclosed.

The JN Resolution Project ran for more than a decade. Originally called Youth Zoom, the Resolution Project began in 2004. Each school received digital cameras and participated in workshops in strategic locations across Jamaica. The fundamentals of photography and advocacy, as well as the basics of journalism were taught, and students used the skills they garnered to then tell intricate stories with their cameras; critically examine the issues facing them, and creatively articulate their observations in photographs.

Mr Reeves noted that some exceptional students emerged from the programme, with some moving on to careers involving photography. Among them was Osheenei Zevandell Graham of Grange Hill High School in Westmoreland, who is now an established photographer.

Mr Graham credited the JN Resolution Project for assisting him to develop his craft and gave him the exposure he needed as a student. He was part of the programme for four years.

“The JN Resolution Project gave me the exposure that I needed and it forced me to come out of my shell and be more outgoing and more of a people person,” he said.

He informed that photography is a good way of preserving memories and recording events and that it gave him joy doing so.

Mr Reeves is again engaging budding photographers through the recently launched JN Foundation ‘Greatness through the Lens’ photo-advocacy competition, which invited persons passionate about photography and community advocacy to enter.

The competition, which was launched in October, was conceptualized in celebration of Jamaica’s 60th year of independence under the national theme, “Reigniting a Nation for Greatness”.

It seeks to encourage Jamaican photographers to bring awareness to the unseen ‘helpers/advocates’ whose voluntary service has been engendering positive change in vulnerable communities and promoting environmental preservation.

So far, 50 persons have been shortlisted for the competition, which will culminate in August 2023 during Jamaica’s Independence Day celebrations.

“I’m anxious to see the work they [participants] will come up with. They will be churning out a lot of images and we will give them the necessary guidance and address their weaknesses in photography so they can be better photographers,” said Reeves, who is one of the trainers in the competition. The other trainer is renowned Jamaican international photographer, Radcliff ‘Ruddy’ Roy.

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Social Media Influencers Take on Water Conservation with the JN Foundation

Four couples. Three months. Four sets of water-efficiency kits, and hopefully, a whole lot of savings! That’s the premise of the JN Foundation’s latest campaign, which is geared towards reducing water usage in Jamaican households. 

The campaign, which was launched this month, will see four influencer couples utilising the water-efficiency kits in their homes for a period of three months as a means of conserving the valuable resource and reducing their water bills.

The four couples: Basillia and Brian Cuff, Xaundre and Zhara-Marie Mohansingh, Sasha and Rory Ebanks and Romaine and Elizabeth Virgo will install the kits in their homes and implement the tips from the JN Foundation’s Water Project Homeowners’ guide to water use efficiency, to monitor changes in their water bills over the duration of the campaign. Each kit comprises of a showerhead, aerators for the kitchen and bathroom sinks and a toilet leak detector.

For the Cuffs, this is an excited endeavour, which they’re hoping will not only assist them in reducing their water bill, but will also help them to teach their young children about water conversation.

“I’m excited about learning and spreading the knowledge surrounding water conservation. It is something we practice and emphasize in our home, especially with two children running around who know how to turn pipes on,” said Basillia. “I think this project will help us to zoom in on those little things we do, that we don’t pay much attention to, that add up over time
on our bills.”

She noted that the family now spends about $8,000 on their water bill, each month. “I honestly feel like this project will be eye opening for many of us, and rewarding, when the bills begin to reflect the reduction.”

For Zhara Mohansingh, the JN Foundation Water Project is game changing. “It’s not just practical but helps with a mindset shift which is critical if we desire change. Cutting down on any bill is a good idea for my pocket and I’m excited to see how the practices will help us to stay under budget as we try to stay afloat in such harsh economic conditions.”

Claudine Allen, general manager of the JN Foundation, said the main goal of the campaign is to encourage water adaptation measures and encourage efficient water usage across all sectors of society. The initiative falls under Water Project Jamaica, which was started in 2017 as a joint collaboration with the JN Bank, JN Foundation, the Climate Investment Funds (CIF), the Pilot Program for Climate Resilience (PPCR), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and IDB Lab.

“Our hope is that the results of the programme will encourage more Jamaicans to adapt these water conservation strategies in their homes as a way of conserving on their water consumption and cutting down their water bills,” Miss Allen said. “With the help of our influencer couples, we hope to reach more Jamaicans with this message of conservation.”

Data show that a typical single-family home in Jamaica uses between 3,000 and 5,000 gallons of water per month, with about 10 per cent being wasted. Water saving devices and good conservation practices can reduce water consumption by as much as 30 per cent.

Miss Allen further noted that the JN Foundation wants to emphasise the value of water, whether in homes, schools, businesses or communities. “We want everyone to take the message of water conservation and efficient water use as a part of valuing water,” she remarked.

The JN Foundation, under its Water Project, has implemented similar water conservation initiatives in several households and institutions in the past, reaping great success.

In 2021, a rainwater harvesting system and water-efficiency devices were donated to the Wortley Home for Girls in Kingston, which saw the institution reducing its water bill by at least 50 per percent less than a year later.

The donation comprised 12 water-efficiency kits and the rainwater harvesting system, which included piping and guttering, as well as a tank donated by entertainer and The Jamaica National Group brand ambassador Agent Sasco.

Similarly, in 2018, several St Catherine residents, who received water-efficiency kits from JN also reported significant reductions in their water consumption and subsequent water bills.

One family in Portsmount, St Catherine saw a massive 700 per cent reduction in just three months. Their water bill moved from $16,000 monthly to $2,000 per month.

To learn more about the JN Foundation’s Water Project, please visit Also, follow @jnfoundation on all socials for more about the campaign.

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Retiree, Daphne Innerarity, Finds Satisfaction in Volunteerism

Eighty-two year-old Daphne Innerarity does not allow her age to prevent her from accomplishing her objectives. The retired teacher, underwriter and councillor has maintained an active life since her retirement almost two decades ago.

The Kiwanian of 22 years and JN Circle member keeps busy by engaging in voluntary service.

“I find pleasure in volunteering. I like doing work among people because I love people and I like to see people progress,” she shared.

Daphne Innerarity, retired teacher, underwriter and councillor

The former educator particularly loves to engage in activities that uplift young people. Her most recent project was with the JN Circle, Spanish Town chapter where the organisation was involved in securing funding from the JN Foundation to donate two air conditioning units to the Young Men’s Christian Association’s (YMCA) computer laboratory.

The presentation of the units to the YMCA in Spanish Town, St. Catherine was heart-warming she said, as the students can now work in a cool environment, and the information technology equipment will have a longer shelf life. Located on Monk Street, the institution serves a population of 40 boys who are mostly high school drop-outs.

The JN Circle comprises a network of JN members and customers of member companies within the JN Group, who bond together through community building, advocacy and networking.

For her, it is projects like these, which impact the lives of others that encourage her and keep her going. “Knowing that our children are our future, you would want to see them do the best for themselves and to be useful citizens and so I pride myself in doing voluntary work,” she disclosed.

Anna Dallas, principal of the institution, was elated to receive the units and said that it will not only protect the computers in the laboratory but students will also be more comfortable.

“Before, we had to work in the heat, and during the summer months the temperatures are really very high and can be very uncomfortable. The units donated will help to preserve our systems especially those that have outlived their time and will help to keep them a little longer,” she said.

Mrs Innerarity encourages retired persons like herself to get involved and give back, as it is very rewarding.

“One of the ways in which we can show gratitude from what we have received from whatever source, is by offering free service to others because that is the biggest gift that you could give.  I know that there are many persons who would like to say thanks and this might be the avenue for them to say thank you to persons who have helped them along the way,” she said.

The mother of three said volunteerism has also kept her healthy, in addition to an active physical life as a sports enthusiast, athlete (sprinter and netballer) and Physical Education teacher and lecturer. She also taught dancing and was a netball coach.

“I think that having been so active in my earlier life has helped to keep me fit in my latter years and I have kept active through my outreach programmes,” she said.

Mrs Innerarity started her career as a young teacher graduate of the Mico University College where she pursued studies in education and later at the University of the West Indies where she did a Bachelors of Education degree. She took up her first teaching position at the St Hilda’s Diocesan High School in Brown’s Town, St Ann. She later moved to St Jago High School in St Catherine, and then to Shortwood Teachers’ College in St Andrew, where she spent 11 years as a lecturer.

She then went into the Life Insurance Industry where she spent another 11 years as an underwriter. The pleasant and bubbly Mrs Innerarity ventured into politics where she served as councillor for Lauriston division in St Catherine from 1998-2003.

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JN Foundation Awards 47 PEP Scholarships and Grants

Parris Lyew-Ayee (seated, centre) Chairman, JN Foundation and Onyka  Barrett Scott (seated, third right) then General Manager of the JN Foundation, celebrate the achievements of the 2019 JN Scholars at the JN Scholarship Reception held at the JN Bank Half Way Tree Branch on September 8.

With secondary education being a major focus of the JN Foundation, the philanthropic arm of The Jamaica National Group, the organisation has maintained its commitment to empower future leaders at this level to achieve academic success through the award of 37 five-year scholarships and 10 grants to students across the island who have excelled in this year’s Primary Exit Profile (PEP).  Twenty of the awardees are children of employees.

The recipients will be formally recognised as JN Scholars at a scholarship reception to be held on September 25.

This year’s scholarship recipients join more than 100 JN Scholars, who are at various stages in their five-year secondary school journey, and have had their scholarship renewed for this  school year.

Since 1983, The Jamaica National Group has been supporting the educational pursuits of hundreds of young people at both secondary and tertiary levels. The scholarship awards are one of its largest benevolent efforts.

Claudine Allen, General Manager of the JN Foundation, explained that the investment in the education of students at the secondary school level is important in helping to nurture and develop their leadership skills while they are in their formative years.

“The secondary school experience is a significant phase of a child’s educational journey.  It is at this stage that students begin to acquire knowledge and skills through training that can help them excel academically and explore various career options.  And, it is at this level that children develop important life skills such as teamwork and critical thinking which help to prepare them for adulthood and their chosen careers,” she said, noting that the JN Foundation’s programme features new capacity development support for scholars and grant recipients.

“As the education needs of Jamaicans evolve, we anticipate that our programmes will evolve to better meet those needs as we work to ensure that Jamaicans thrive at home and abroad,” she added.

For several years, The Jamaica National Group has provided financial support for educational initiatives such as The Gleaner’s Children’s Own Spelling Bee competition.  Also, since 2001, the organisation has maintained a financial literacy programme, JN Bank Easi Save, at the basic, primary and secondary levels to foster sound money management among children

“Our support of secondary education, not only from the scholarship perspective, but the programmes that the JN Foundation has championed in education leadership, technology and science, supports our intent of enriching lives and building communities,” Miss Allen stated. 

The JN Foundation established the iLead education leadership programme in 2014 in partnership with the Ministry of Education, now the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, to work closely with 15 underperforming primary and secondary schools in St. Mary, Portland and St. Thomas over a three-year period to transform them into centres of excellence.

The JN Foundation received more than 400 PEP scholarship applications through its website for this year’s PEP Scholarship award.  As part of the eligibility for the scholarship, the child or parent is required to be a member, customer, or client of The Jamaica National Group for at least one year. 

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Seniors Urged to Pay Attention to Day-to-Day Finances

Rose Miller, team lead of the JN BeWi$e financial empowerment programme, underscores the importance for persons to carefully manage their day-to-day finances, at all times and in all seasons of live but particularly during retirement.

This she said in particular when income is oftentimes reduced and the pensioners still have to navigate high inflation, the upward movement in the price of food, medication and other goods and services.

Mrs Miller stressed the importance of budgeting during this season of life, as it is easy to overspend when a close eye is not kept on purchases.

“As a pensioner, not only are you faced with reduced income, increased prices but significantly, many seniors as they age must also factor in increased cost of healthcare and the cost of long term care and assistance if and when you are no longer able to manage on your own.  Therefore, it is important to be thrifty in your spending,” she explained.

Tracking of spending is one way of ensuring that money is not wasted on unnecessary purchases. Mrs Miller informed that for those seniors not averse to technology, using a budgeting app would be beneficial. With aggressive tracking of expenses and making some other spending adjustments, the savings can be great, she advised.

Some of these apps include the Mint app, which helps seniors keep an eye on their budgets and finances and budget simple, a free online budgeting tool.

“I would recommend frugal spending as much as possible, shopping where they can get the best prices, taking advantages of rewards and utilising substitutes wherever possible instead of the higher priced products,” said Mrs Miller.

Take advantage of discounts for seniors wherever they are available, she said. Noting that sometimes seniors may be asked to prove their eligibility, pensioners should be prepared with the appropriate documents; proof of age or government-issued identification would be sufficient.   She also recommended teaming up with close friends or family members to purchase groceries in bulk.

To supplement their income, seniors should explore the option of monetising their hobbies, Mrs Miller advised.

“If you have a hobby that you can monetise, you should do that. Even if you can develop a new skill that can bring in income, you should explore that. For example, if you are a teacher, you can offer tutoring services during your retirement,” she said.

Another avenue which could be pursued is property rental which would generate income.  Mrs Miller informed that seniors who have a large home may consider downsizing and converting a section of the property to provide rental income.

She noted that owning a large home may not make sense. For some the option of selling their current home and purchasing a smaller house or condo might be more practical and attractive. This will not only reduce home expenses, but also make life less stressful in terms of cleaning and maintenance.

The JN BeWi$e Financial Empowerment team lead suggested that seniors also start a backyard garden where they can cultivate vegetables or general cash crops which could  generate an income, but at the very least, reduce or eliminate purchases of these items.

“Vegetables such as calaloo, peppers, and tomatoes are among crops easily cultivated and they mature in a short period of time. The produce from gardening can help to offset buying them at the markets and the surplus can be sold.  Gardening will not only keep seniors busy, reducing boredom, but has the added advantage of providing them with the exercise they need to keep fit , warding off or helping to manage some lifestyle diseases,” she explained.

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Accepting Help is Part of Self-Care Says Life Coach

Life coach and gender specialist, Carla Moore is encouraging persons to practise more self-care by learning to accept assistance from others instead of trying to do everything on their own.

 “Self-care is recognising that my dreams are bigger than this fear [of asking for help]. So, I’m going to ask for what I need so that my dreams can come out of my chest and begin to live in the world. Self-care is about having the courage [to admit that you need support],” she said, as she noted that one cannot expect to accomplish everything on their own.

Self-care is the process of taking care of oneself with behaviours that promote health and active management of illness when it occurs.

Moore was a guest on the JN Circle Thrive Together Life Class series, where she was participating in a discussion on the topic: ‘Me, myself and I: Selfishness or Self-care?’

“Self-care is a part of your personal greatness, because one form of self-care is allowing other persons to add their energy to what you are trying to do. Think about it this way, one person trying to launch a business on their own, has a very different experience from a person who has a team of five,” she noted.

She further pointed out that it is important for people to be honest with themselves and seek external help.

“It is a deep and pure honesty to say ‘Am I caring for myself if I continue to act in the way that I’m acting? And if I continue like this, will all of the greatness in me make it out in this lifetime?’ If the answer is no, then you need to change tactics”.

Dania Beckford, publicist and chief executive officer of Broadtail Designs, who was also a guest at the session, said that communication is also key to self-care.

“Sometimes, your family members and your circle want to support you but might not be able to do it at that particular time, so that is why it is important that it is communicated that they are unable to do the task right now and indicate when they can do it,” she explained. “So, communication is part of how we self-care and how we care for others,” she said.

Season four of the JN Circle Thrive Together Life Class, started on July 22 and will continue until September 7. The session, which is moderated by Kamala McWhinney, associate clinical psychologist, seeks to empower JN members and customers.

The discussion topics have so far included, ‘Spotting a Tinder Swindler: The Dos and Don’ts of Online Dating in Jamaica and the ‘Vow: Yours? Mine? Ours? – A Look at Boundaries within Marriages’.

Persons can register to join the sessions at, or they can watch and participate via the JN Group’s Facebook Page.

The next session is scheduled for Wednesday, August 17 at 6:30 p.m. and the topic will be: Manifesting: The Art of Being Intentional’.

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JN Group Launches Plastic Recycling Programme: Aims to Collect 530,000 Plastic Bottles in a Year

The Jamaica National Group has launched a pilot of a plastic recycling programme among its employees as it aims to collect 530,000 polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles over the next 12 months. PET bottles include soda and water bottles and other soft drink bottles.

Omar Wright, lead, Environment and Community Development Programmes at the JN Foundation, in announcing the initiative said that the programme is part of a much larger initiative under the JN Group’s Environmental Sustainability Programme, which is a five-year initiative, targeted at reducing deforestation, strengthening waste management, and promoting water conservation and energy efficiency.

“This initiative is an acceptance of our responsibility to limit not only our negative impact on the environment as much as possible, but to demonstrate that the private sector also has a leadership role to play in achieving environmental sustainability in our country and in our global village,” he said.

“We must support the continued promotion of environmental awareness and practice in Jamaica to ensure the economic and social wellbeing of all our people – both present and future,” he added.

Kimberly Gardner, marketing relations officer at the JN Group said the initiative will start at four  JN Group locations and will be expanded.

In partnership with JN Properties, a member company of the JN Group and janitorial and property services company, EnviroTech, labelled recycle bins have been placed strategically in these locations to facilitate collection of PET bottles for recycling.

The bottles will then be transported to Recycle Partners of Jamaica, where a percentage of the proceeds gained from the bottles will be donated to ‘Funds to Fuel a Nation’, a project of the JN Foundation, which provides financial support to the Mustard Seed Communities and educational support to children.

“We invite all employees of The Jamaica National Group to support this initiative. Let us play our part in protecting the environment,” she said during the launch.

“Let us practise the 3Rs – ‘reduce, reuse, recycle.’ Space in our landfill and dumps are limited, and the conditions in these spaces make it nearly impossible for anything, including plastic, to biodegrade. Recycling plastic water bottles helps to conserve space that can be used for other waste. Recycling can also help reduce the number of plastic water bottles that end up as litter in roadways and water sources,” she added.

According to a United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report, an estimated 11 million tonnes of plastic waste flow into the world’s oceans every year with experts warning this may triple by 2040.

In Jamaica, plastic accounts for approximately 15 per cent of waste, with the vast majority of it being PET bottles. Jamaica produces 800 million PET bottles annually, and as of September 2019, only 20 per cent this waste has been collected.

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