Christmas Memories From Golden Age Residents

Whether you’re one or 92 years old, for many of us, Christmas often conjures up childlike sentiments.

And those feelings emerged in the form of ‘hilarious tall tales’ from a group of golden agers recently as they were treated to lunch, presented with gifts, and enjoyed a mini concert hosted by The JN Foundation and its ACT!ON volunteers at the Golden Age Home in St Andrew.

The golden agers reminisced about their family gatherings, childish pranks and, of course, the traditional Jamaican cuisine they enjoyed in their youth. They recalled not only sorrel and fruit cake, but also red herring and ‘jontono’ bread, an alternate pronunciation for ‘joined-up’, as the product was characteristically formed from three breads joined together. In addition, there was ackee and salt fish, jackass corn (a hard biscuit made primarily from coconut), and other traditional Jamaican delights.

“One time, me tief out the whole of the middle of the biscuit,” 101 year-old Cybil Francis recalled, as her mind took her back to Christmas when, as a girl, her mother would bake trays of coconut biscuits (jackass corn) and serve the sweet treats with some traditional chocolate tea. “And me get a good whacking fi tief out the coconut business,” she said, to peals of laughter.

Another resident, Claude White, recounted an even more detailed and funnier trip with an uncle as they travelled by donkey on an errand for his grandmother, with whom he lived, to get some jontono bread and red herring for Christmas.

“Him go to the front and me at the back (on the donkey) and me pinch the bread. Then him buy herring and put it in the basket. Me pinch the herring and eat it with the bread and it sweet me!” he recalled, with much laughter.

By the time he got home, only about half the bread remained. But lucky for him, his grandmother did not scold him.

The stories kept flowing and grew more interesting as the seniors tried to outdo each other.

A ‘ram goat’ being used as a horse or mule? Gladstone Kerr was the next to tell his tale. He told of how he ended up with four stitches one Christmas following one of his boyhood meanderings.

“My father was a butcher, and two to three weeks before Christmas him always go around and get the biggest ram goat to buy (which was slaughtered for meat that was most often curried or used to make ‘manish water’ soup), and my duty was to tie out that ram goat (in the mornings) and carry it in at evening time,” he recalled.

However, young Gladstone decided to make an adventure of his daily chore and he made a collar for the goat.

“I jump in the back (of the goat) and ride it go bush and when I coming in the evening, I ride it in again,” he gleefully related.

Then one evening, he decided to take things a little further.

“I made a little cart. I sat in the cart and tied the goat to the cart. There was a deep corner with a gully. Me whip the goat and when him take the corner, the rope that I tied to the cart burst, and me end up down the gully and 10-penny nail run in my foot, and four months I couldn’t go to school,” he recalled.

For young Gladstone, it was a lesson learned, albeit a painful one, but one he could now relate with humour.

The stories continued from the 69 senior citizens that afternoon as they clamoured for the opportunity to not merely walk or jog, but to run down memory lane, eating and singing belove

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Sunbeam Children’s Home Benefits from Education Resources

The Resource Centre at the Sunbeam Children’s Home in Bushy Park, St Catherine was recently upgraded with new computers, books, tables and chairs, courtesy of the JN Bank Member Advisory Council (JN MAC).

Mr Desmond Whitley, manager at the Sunbeam Children’s Home, said that the institution was happy to receive the gifts, which were presented to the home on December 23.

“The best way to have an impact on the boys’ future is to go for their long-term development; therefore, we pay particular attention to education.  It is what we believe we can give the boys for their sustained development,” he pointed out.

“These boys are from very poor families. Some are from inner city areas and could have gone into criminal activities, if there were no interventions, and the possibilities of some of them dying by 25 years, is very real,” Mr Whitley added.

He underscored that education is key to the rehabilitation of the boys. He noted that when they are educated, they tend to make better decisions and do not turn to violence and crime. He, therefore, commended the JN Bank MAC team for buying into this type of vision.

“We are grateful to JN Bank for catching this vision. They could have bought clothes, but what they have done is to give us something that we can use to strengthen the abilities of the next generation,” he affirmed.

Mr Whitley stated that the computers will assist the boys in their research for their homework; and doing their school based assessment. He also welcomed the fact that, the laptops are flexible and are easily moved around.

The manager at the Sunbeam Children’s Home informed that two of its former wards are now pursuing tertiary studies at The University of the West Indies and at a teachers’ college. He accredited their success to the strong emphasis placed on education at the Home.

“The investment in education is an investment in our nation; as the development of our boys will be an asset to Jamaica,” he said.

Tisharn Farquharson, member hospitality officer, JN Bank Old Harbour, said that the Sunbeam Children’s Home was selected by JN MAC, based on the impact that the home has made on the development of Old Harbour and the Bushy Park area in particular, over the past four decades.

Paulette Chambers-Salmon, business relationship and sales manager, at the JN Bank May Pen branch, said that she was happy that JN Bank was able to assist by improving the equipment in the Resource Centre at the home.

“It is a great feeling,” she related, pointing out that, “I know what it feels like to be without; and would like to do things, but cannot, because of limited resources.”

“The JN MAC believed that this was a worthy cause and, therefore, we decided to assist. The Home is stretched from lack of resources; hence, they would not be able to outfit the Resource Centre. We are, therefore, happy that we were able to deliver on what we promised,” she affirmed.

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

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15 graduate from JN water harvesting training

A group of 15 persons, comprising engineers, developers, students, and water experts, graduated from a 16-week rainwater harvesting and grey-water-recycling training programme recently.

The training programme was organised by the JN Foundation in collaboration with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) through the Water Project Jamaica.

Edward Shakes, one of the graduates, said, “The course was engaging, yet flexible, and, it was a remarkable, enlightening, and vital learning experience.”

Shakes, an engineer, stated that the course allowed him to design and scale a rainwater-harvesting system, that he will construct for his parents, who reside in Manchester, as he is now aware that the system is suited for the parish, based on its heavy rainfall.


For Coleen Williams, a householder, the course was timely, considering the effects of climate change, and she welcomed the applicable skills that participants learnt during the 16-week programme.

“It is knowledge to share. I can now speak from the choir to the choir,” she said, adding that she learnt a lot during the 16 weeks.

Onyka Barrett Scott, general manager of the JN Foundation, stated that the graduates were ahead of the curve, given that they were the first batch to be trained in rainwater harvesting and grey-water recycling.

“Today, we are proud to be recognising graduates who are armed with knowledge about rainwater harvesting and grey-water recycling; therefore, we are confident that they will effectively implement what they learnt,” she said.

The JN Foundation’s general manager explained that the aim of the initiative is to build local capacity in the design and installation of a variety of water-efficient measures in the housing sector. Participants were exposed to the components of rainwater harvesting systems, water-saving devices that can be implemented by homeowners to save water; and factors that affect water quality, as well as water standards.

Barrett Scott explained that, in the case of Jamaica, droughts and the shifting patterns of rainfall are already creating serious challenges that negatively impact the country’s water supply and distribution systems.

She also noted that the problem of inconsistent water supply has a devastating effect on families, institutions, and communities and affects the business models of housing developers and construction companies, as was experienced this past summer.
In addition, she stated that limited financing and an uncertain business case for water adaptation are barriers to the uptake of water-efficient measures by the housing development sector.

“The Water Project Jamaica, therefore, aims to tackle these issues through the provision of an impactful, scalable model which will enhance Jamaica’s climate resilience,” she posited.
Senator Pearnel Charles jr, minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, commended the JN Foundation and its partners for the training and added that it was a demonstration that they are thinking outside of the box.

He encouraged the graduates to implement what they had learnt. “I’m challenging you, so that, it does not become another line on your “résumé,” he told them.

The minister underscored the importance for the country having strong water-policy guidelines; and gave his commitment to move the plan from draft stage to legislative format. “We have to press on the gas to have it completed,” he affirmed. 

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Rainbow Kids Centre & Kindergarten Shines Brighter for Christmas

The smiles on the faces of the teachers and students at Rainbow Kids Centre & Kindergarten School in St Thomas shone brighter, following the delivery of desktop computers from the JN Bank Member Advisory Council for St. Thomas, on Monday, December 16.
Mrs Sonia Richards, principal of the school, on accepting the presentation, shared that the introduction to computer technology will enhance the teacher’s planning and students’ appreciation for learning.

“We appreciate the computers, and we thank Jamaica National for considering Rainbow Kids Centre for these gifts. It will definitely make teaching and learning more informative and enjoyable, considering that we are in the computer age, and we want our students to be more ‘hands on’,” she said with elation.

Established 14 years ago, Mrs Richards pointed out that the school has a population of approximately 150 students. She also stated that the students usually perform well academically, and as such, there was demand for their graduates, who moved on to the primary level.

Troy Bygrave, JN Bank business relationship and sales manager for St. Thomas and Portmore, said the bank was happy to present the computers to the school, as the gifts will assist in making learning more fun, and, at the same, time give the students an early start in computer literacy. 

“The school was in need of computers for the little minds. Therefore, this will go a long way to improve their computer literacy, considering that we are in the digital age,” he informed.
The computers will also assist teachers to plan more creative lessons, which will, in turn, assist students to grasp more, as they become computer literate, added the JN Bank business relationship and sales manager.

Mr Bygrave said that the JN Bank MAC plans to continue its intervention at the school; and will be upgrading the bathroom facilities; as well as, installing a water tank at the school.
He also pointed out that future community projects in the parish of St. Thomas will be generated by the recently established JN Circle, a network of service clubs, which has been established to undertake activities, which were being pursued by JN MAC.

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Loans for Christmas: Here’s what you should know

The Christmas season is here and some Jamaicans may want to enjoy a more ‘bountiful’ season than they can afford.

Some persons may be tempted to borrow money to buy gifts for those near and dear. Others may want to take out loans to purchase hams, stock up on sorrel and other food and drink or decorate their homes with lights and new appliances.

A survey of local lending houses to find out the costs attached to securing a Christmas showcase revealed that what are essentially personal loans might be rebranded as Christmas loans as the season begins.

Commercial banks and micro financiers have been rolling out loans that consumers can use for their personal needs. All loan sources canvassed for the details of their Christmas loans declined to share their rates.

However, Jamaica National chief of retail sales at JN Bank, Steve Distant explained, “JN Bank provides loans to assist our members to meet their personal goals on an ongoing basis. These loans are purpose-driven and are not categorised by social events.”

He added, “through the BeWise financial empowerment programme executed by the JN Foundation, we provide our members with information to assist them with developing their financial acumen and managing their expenses carefully.”

The consumer watchdog, the Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC) says in an online report that currently, many advertisements are offering same-day loans, pay-day loans and quick loans.

It warns, however, “as a consumer, you need to be cautious in responding to these offers, especially during the Christmas season when they may seem even more attractive, but not everything that glitters is gold. “

The CAC stated, “Many of these “deals” are often unrealistic and are being offered by predatory loan companies, which, are not regulated.”

The consumer body asserted that many lenders at this time of year practice over-lending to customers and sometimes impose excessive fees and onerous contract terms which once signed to, the consumer has to honour because it is a private contract.

The most common of these is the requirement to pay a non-refundable processing fee. The loan application is frequently denied, as it is often used by unscrupulous lenders as a means of accumulating funds.

In instances where the loan is approved, consumers are faced with high loan repayments that are burdensome and some are not able to repay.

“As such,” the CAC noted,” consumers find themselves in a bind when they are unable to make loan payments, and some may even go to other lenders — formal and informal — to get a new loan to repay the old one while accumulating more debt.”

If you are seeking a loan for the Christmas season this year, try to approach reputable organisations like banks and credit unions, the CAC advised.

Before you do so: consider the purpose of the loan; review the terms and conditions of the loan -including interest (add-on- versus reducing balance) and processing fees; the period for repayment; and other non-interest related charges, the CAC added.

“Remember, Christmas is only one day of the year. We want you to enjoy the season. However, be mindful that after Christmas, all the other bills will have to be paid (rent, utilities, transportation, food as well as sending the children back to school),” the consumer watchdog warned.

Think carefully before assigning your hard-earned cash to loan payments Christmas loans that will follow you all year long. It’s better to budget and save towards the extra spending that the season usually demands.

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Brown’s Town Residents Lobbies for Improvement in Waste Management

Residents in Brown’s Town, St Ann have identified poor waste management and traffic congestion woes as some of the social problems which they would like to tackle “through advocacy,” to improve the situation in their community.

The residents discussed the areas they want to be improved in their communities, at the inaugural meeting of the JN Circle Brown’s Town, which was held at the JN Bank in Brown’s Town, St. Ann, recently.

They noted that waste management was a result of the poor garbage collection system; and highlighted the need for changes in the manner in which persons disposed of their garbage.
They also cited the need for improvement in road infrastructure, as one solution to address the congestion in the town.

Chevanese Peters, project coordinator at the JN Foundation, encouraged the residents to come together and find out about the plans for the town’s development from the Municipal Council.

Addressing the issue of waste management, Ms. Peters said, “We need to take a multifaceted approach, as we strive to change human behavior, among other issues. This is what the JN Circle will seek to accomplish, as you sit down and discuss the situations. No idea is too small or too big. It is a safe place to speak about your issues and then you go into a planning mode to implement a campaign,” she said.

Earlier in the meeting, Claudine Allen, member ombudsman at The Jamaica National Group, in explaining the rationale of the JN Circle, informed residents, that it was a local network of service clubs, driven by the JN Group and its members, with the aim to improve the lives of its members and positively impact the development of their communities.

“The mandate of the JN Circle is community building, advocacy and networking,” Ms. Allen informed. “There is power in advocacy, and we want to give power to that advocacy. We want to work with you and assist you to make decisions that will positively impact your communities,” she explained.

Ms. Allen stated that the JN Circle was recruiting members who have a ‘fire in their bellies’ for change and want to see improvements in their communities and Jamaica.

Dr Ransford Davidson, business relationship and sales manager at JN Bank, explained that the JN employees and members will come together in the JN Circle, to build relationships and leverage the JN network to implement activities, designed to positively impact the lives of citizens, in communities where entities within the JN Group operate.

“The JN Circle’s intent is to connect people and empower members to boldly enrich their own lives as they build their communities,” he informed.

The JN Circle initiative is being guided by the Member Relations team at The Jamaica National Group, in collaboration with the JN Foundation; along with other JN member companies and organisations.

To date, JN Circles have been established in Port Antonio, Morant Bay, Spanish Town, Linstead and Mandeville.

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Spanish Town welcomes JN Circle Chapter

Members at the Spanish Town branch of JN Bank welcomed the introduction of the JN Circle, a global network of service clubs, which are empowered by Jamaica National to advocate for change and strengthen their community.

The members expressed their delight about the initiative at the inaugural meeting, which was held at the branch in St Catherine, recently.

“I believe that this is quite interesting. Once it has something to do with building, conserving and preserving our communities, then this is something that I want to be part of,” Alvin Lawson, a JN Member for some 30 years, said.

Peter Chin, another member, said that he believes that Spanish Town will benefit from having a JN Circle chapter in the old capital.

Pastor Phillip Johnson stated that he has high expectations from the JN Circle. “I believe that this JN Circle is not simply another talk shop. I believe that great things will come from it, therefore, I’m happy to be a part of the JN Circle,” he affirmed.

Major Effiom Whyte, member relations coordinator with JN Group, in explaining the aims and objectives of the JN Circle, said that its goals are to, “Improve the lives of members and serve as a platform for advocacy.”

“This service club is going to provide a platform for all of us to use our voices and to experience and create change for ourselves and others, through networking, advocacy and community development,” he related.

Outlining the benefits of the JN Circle, Chevanese Peters, project coordinator, JN Foundation, informed that participation in a JN Circle will afford members the opportunity to build their network.

“You will benefit from empowerment training, leadership and capacity-building. Through unmatched access to JN’s subject matter expertise and resources, JN Circle members will live better lives,” she said.

Peters further added that “JN Circle members will be connected to Jamaica National, as their relationship will extend beyond the business relationship and also include, JN’s support for issues which impact them and their communities.

JN Circle chapters have been established in Port Antonio, Portland; Morant Bay, St Thomas; Linstead, St Catherine and Mandeville, Manchester. Additional chapters will be rolled out in other parishes during the coming months.

Claudine Allen, member ombudsman, at The Jamaica National Group, who is driving the initiative, stated that the JN Circle presents an opportunity for JN members and employees to work together, to ‘do good,’ in their respective communities; and contribute to building their country.

“Connecting people, communities and doing good are the main objectives of the JN Circle. It will provide an avenue through which members can be engaged in meaningful, sustainable partnerships with JN and their communities, as the group of companies and organisations work to unleash the potential of Jamaicans, wherever they reside,” Allen affirmed.

The initiative is being guided by the Member Relations team at The Jamaica National Group, in collaboration with the JN Foundation and JN member companies.

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JEA Rolls Out Public Education Activities to Raise Awareness of Epilepsy

According to the National Health Fund some 20,000 Jamaicans with epilepsy are registered to receive subsidized medication. It is also estimated that another 20,000 Jamaicans are not diagnosed and therefore not registered.

Joy McHugh, executive director of the Jamaica Epilepsy Association (JEA), emphasized that this is why there is a need for an aggressive public education campaign about epilepsy. 
In a bid to demystify the disease, the JEA has rolled out a series of public education activities which aim to raise awareness and raise funding, to support persons affected with epilepsy.
With a grant from the Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund the Association has embarked on a training programme for school teachers, educating them about epilepsy and teaching basic first aid for seizures.  So far 25 schools have been visited and approximately 500 members of school staff have been sensitized.
The JEA public awareness activities commenced earlier this year and were highlighted throughout the month of November, which is observed worldwide as Epilepsy Awareness month.
Mrs. McHugh, also pointed out that the Association partnered again with, a crowdfunding platform, powered by The Jamaica National Group, to raise funds to purchase medication for persons affected by the condition.
The JEA executive director stated that medication for persons affected with epilepsy can be expensive. She noted that the cost for: two to three, or even four to six different combinations of medications, can be from J$12,000 to J$45,000 monthly, per person. Persons with epilepsy (PWE) often times have difficulty finding employment. Consequently, many persons living with the disease have difficulty purchasing their medication.
“The campaign with ISupportJamaica will run from November 1 to January 31, 2020,” she explained, “And, this time the Association’s goal is more conservative, with a target of about J$300,000.”
She explained that donations to the cause will go a long way to purchase medication for these persons.
Phillip Lindsay, Manager of ISupportJamaica, at the JN Group, said that persons can support the JEA’s initiative via the platform, which he said is simple and secure.
Interested persons can donate by visiting the platform at, click on Health Education, Epilepsy Awareness; and then click the “Fund Project” button. In addition, donations can also be made via JN Live e-banking; and at any branch of JN Bank or JN MoneyShop, as well as, through interbank transfers.
During epilepsy month the JEA held a series of public awareness sessions in schools; an Open House, featuring a ‘lunch and learn’ at the Andrews Memorial Hospital on November 21; and a ‘Walk & Talk’ on November 24, at the Emancipation Park in Kingston.
Epilepsy is a central nervous system (neurological) disorder, in which brain activity becomes abnormal, causing seizures or periods of unusual behaviour, sensations, and sometimes loss of awareness. Anyone at anytime can develop epilepsy but it tends to occur more frequently in younger and older persons.
Members of the public can assist with a seizure by cushioning the head of the person affected; loosening tight neck wear; and turning the individual on his or her side. Refrain from putting any objects in the mouth or over the mouth of the person with the seizure; do not hold the person and look for any identification on the person.

Most seizures last approximately two minutes, however, if the seizure lasts longer than five minutes the patient should be transported to the nearest Hospital. After the seizure, offer help and look for any identification to contact next of kin.

Worldwide, approximately 50 million people have epilepsy, making it one of the most
common neurological diseases globally. It is estimated that up to 70 per cent of people living with epilepsy could live seizure-free if properly diagnosed and treated. 

For further information about epilepsy, contact the JEA at:; Telephone: (876) 968-8274 or (876) 393-7889.

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UWI professor says maternity leave should be extended to six months

The head of the Tropical Metabolism Research Unit (TMRU), at The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona is recommending that maternity leave be extended from three months to six months.
Professor Marvin Reid said the extension would allow lactating mothers to exclusively breast feed their babies for at least six months, as recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
“I agree with you that the maternity leave, as currently constructed in law, is relatively too short; and thoughts need to be given to have it extended. Thought also needs to be given to creating an enabling environment, which purports proper nutrition of the infant; and encourages breast feeding, as much as we can, in the work place,” he said.
Reid made the recommendation, as he responded to a question from a participant in the Dudley Grant Memorial Trust Early Childhood Development Conference, held at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, recently.
This followed his presentation of recent research findings by the TMRU which revealed that several mothers reported that they did not exclusively breastfeed for six weeks. He stated that the data was drawn from six weeks of clinics, at health facilities across the country.
“Roughly half of the women reported exclusively breastfeeding their infants at six weeks, when interviewed which is bad,” he said; and pointed out that, “This was an infringement on the rights of the child to proper nutrition.”
He said the TMRU went a bit further, by doing an objective measurement of breast feeding, to test the accuracy of reported data through a small sized sample, conducted in rural Manchester; and which showed that two thirds of the women were exclusively breastfeeding at six weeks.
However, a similar experiment in the Corporate Area showed that only about one third of women were exclusively breastfeeding at six weeks. He also stated that a longitudinal study was done on the babies of these mothers for a year.
“Most importantly, and perhaps most significantly, what has consequences later on, is that babies who were breastfed, got more protein from their mommies; and at one year-old, were less fat,” he revealed, noting that they were less likely to become obese when they were older.
The UWI professor, who is the grandson of Dudley Grant, commended the work of the Dudley Grant Memorial Trust, which was also celebrating its 30th anniversary.
The conference was held under the theme, “Embrace Children’s Rights: Secure our Future,” ; and it coincided with the 30th Anniversary of the 1989 Declaration by the United Nations Convention on The Rights of the Child.
Onyka Barrett Scott, general manager of the JN Foundation, in delivering greetings on behalf of Earl Jarrett, chief executive officer of The Jamaica National Group, said that the Dudley Grant Memorial Trust should be commended for applying current theories of learning, teaching, and child development to solve problems in primary schools, especially those which catered to children who were being raised in less fortunate conditions.
“Your knack, to provide research-based publications to guide the sector, is enviable. Some of these publications included: training manuals, and teaching learning materials. And, as you look forward to another 30 years, we wish the Dudley Grant Memorial Trust continued success in all of its educational initiatives,” Barrett Scott said.

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JN Group introduces network of service clubs

The Jamaica National (JN) Group has introduced a network of service clubs to its members with the aim of encouraging members to work together to take action, which will improve their life and the lives of all Jamaicans.

Earl Jarrett, CEO of The Jamaica National Group, explained the role of the JN Circle to JN members, at a Corporate Area Circle Meeting, held at the JN Bank Half-Way-Tree Branch, recently.

“The JN Circle will provide an opportunity for our members to meet and to share interests,” he explained. “It is my hope that the JN Circle will agitate for change; assist in resolving issues; and find solutions to problems, such as: health and wellness; technology, and safety, among other areas.”

He outlined that in the JN Circle, “you will also take on troublesome issues; and identify solutions, which you can send through to me and the rest of the team; and, if necessary, through advocacy to the policy makers.”

The Jamaica National Group CEO said it was his vision that chapters of the JN Circle will be established in the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States of America, where other JN members, with similar interests, can come together and create a movement.

Explaining how the JN Circle will work, Chevanese Peters, project coordinator at the JN Foundation, said the Circle’s mandate was to network, advocate and build communities.

She outlined that the benefits of the JN Circle will provide members with the opportunity to build their network; benefit from empowerment training; leadership and capacity building; and its members will be exposed to JN representatives with subject matter expertise and resources.

“You must be volunteer minded… you must be passionate about your community; we want members who are honest, have integrity; and are accountable and upstanding in their community,” she explained about the attributes of prospective members.

Claudine Allen, member ombudsman, member relations and quality assurance executive at The Jamaica National Group, said that chapters have already been formed in Portland and St Thomas; and others will be rolled out in parishes across the country, in the coming months.

“The JN Circle will provide a platform for our members and customers to lead change in their respective communities and to improve lives,” she said.

Ms Allen also stated that through the JN Circle, members will have the opportunity to improve their bond with the organisation; build networks, with like-minded persons; and initiate sustainable projects to assist in the development of their communities.

The initiative is being led by the Member Relations team at The Jamaica National Group, in collaboration with the JN Foundation and JN member companies.

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