Twins Awarded Five Year Scholarships

Jay-Myer and Jemila Auld

Twelve-year-old twins, Jay-Myer and Jemila Auld, can be considered the proverbial “peas in a pod.’” Being the best of friends, means that there is endless friendly banter between them; however, when it comes to school work, they can be fiercely competitive.

Since basic school, Jay-Myer and Jemila have always shared every class. At the Southborough Primary School in St. Catherine, where they attended, Jemila topped all of her classes. Despite her consistent high performance, Jay-Myer always remained hopeful that he would outperform his sister; but he has never quite succeeded.

“The top students in the class are the girls. The girls perform better than the boys,” explained Jemila, adding that her brother is usually among the top five boys in their class.

Having sat the Primary Exit Profile (PEP) this year, Jay-Myer was intentional in choosing a different high school from his sister, to prove to himself that he is capable of topping his class.

“I want to see if I can do better [academically].  I am tired of competing with her, because I know I am going to lose.  Every time I reach the point where I can beat her, she rises,” he related.

Jay-Myer and Jemila received many trophies for academic performance while at Southborough Primary School

Jay-Myer and Jemila achieved placement scores of 343.3 and 349.2 respectively, in the PEP.  Jemila’s almost perfect score earned her a five-year government scholarship to attend Campion College.  Not to be outdone, Jay-Myer was also awarded a five-year scholarship from the JN

Foundation; and emerged the JN Foundation Scholar for the parish of St Catherine.

“The scholarship means a lot to me.  It makes me feel good that I am on top for once,” pointed out Jay-Myer, who will be heading to Wolmer’s Boys’ School.

Jemila thinks the world of her brother, whom she describes as being reserved, sarcastic, and has a dry sense of humour. Jay-Myer cherishes the sentiments of having a twin sister, with whom he can always relate.

As they prepared for high school, they are uncertain about how they will deal with their separation.  Like her brother, Jemila is looking forward to attending a different school, although she has some reservations that she may end up feeling lonely not having him around.

“We normally have each other for support; and we give a comforting presence to each other,” she said.

Their mother, Sanya Anderson, a hairstylist from Portmore, St Catherine, is proud of the accomplishments of her children.  She disclosed that in grade one, they emerged the top boy and top girl.

“I was overjoyed. I was excited, because I always pray about it [the scholarships].  I know they have the ability; therefore, I always push them to do their best, because it is already in them. I always examine their work no matter what time I get home.”

Equally overjoyed about the children’s successes was their father, Benvil Auld, a computer technician, also of Portmore.

“I’m grateful for the scholarships for our children,” he said, adding that he and the children’s mother always put the children’s interests first.

“Jemila is always a bright spark and Jay-Myer was a little behind,” Mr Auld related, “however, he gradually worked his way up last year; and now the gap between them is very narrow.”

The twins credit their parents for being “the wind beneath their wings.”

“My mother is always says inspiring things to encourage me,” Jay-Myer informed. “She is very hardworking and always get things done. I want to be like her.”

Jemila, on the other hand, admires that her father, who lives in a different home, will spend up to two hours at a time on the phone, talking with her about school.

As it relates to their career paths, Jay-Myer wants to become a computer technician, like his father. Jemila, however, has yet to decide what career goal she will pursue.

“It always changes, because I am always discovering a new profession,” she explained.

A total of 35 PEP scholarships were awarded by the JN Foundation this year. Since the inception of the JN Scholarship Programme in 1983, hundreds of students at the secondary level have benefitted.

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JN Foundation Scholarships Open to PEP Students

Jeffrey ‘Agent Sasco’ Campbell addresses JN Scholars at the JN Scholarship Awards Reception held at the JN Bank Half-Way-Tree branch last September.

The JN Foundation is offering 17 five-year scholarships to students who have achieved a minimum placement score of 320 in the 2020 Primary Exit Profile (PEP), to enter high school in September.

Fourteen of the scholarships are allotted to parishes, while three are to the counties.  The student with the highest placement score among the applicants from his or her respective parish will be awarded a scholarship.  Concurrently, the top performing applicant in each county, who is a participant in the JN School Savers’ programme, will also receive a scholarship.  These awards are in addition to the 20, which are allocated to children of employees of The Jamaica National Group.

Parents of eligible students are invited to apply for the scholarship by July 20.  Application forms can be accessed from the JN Foundation website at www.www.jnfoundation.com.

“This scholarship programme has been ongoing for the past 37 years. We are therefore pleased that in this difficult time caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, that we are able to continue this tradition,” disclosed Onyka Barrett Scott, general manager at the JN Foundation.

“We are committed to the education of young Jamaicans. We see these awards as not only an investment in our youth; but, also an investment in the development of our country, as youngsters who are supported in their educational pursuits often move on to make sterling contributions to our country,” Barrett Scott added.

In previous years, the Ministry of Education assisted in identifying the students for the JN scholarships; however, this year and going forward, parents will be requested to apply directly to the JN Foundation for the scholarship. 

Barrett Scott pointed out that, as part of the eligibility for the scholarship, the child or parent is required to be a member, customer, or client of JN Bank, JN Fund Managers, JN General Insurance Company, JN Life Insurance, JN Money Services, JN Small Business Loans or the Jamaica Automobile Association for at least a year. Only biological parents or legal guardians can apply on behalf of a student, if the child is without an active JN Bank account.

Concurrently, more than one hundred JN Foundation scholars, who are at various stages in their five-year scholarship award, will have their scholarship renewed for the new school year. The renewal will be based on their achievement of at least a 70 per cent average at the end of the Easter term. The parents and guardians of the existing scholars should submit their school report to the JN Foundation in the customary manner.

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Surviving a Lay-off during COVID-19

One of the first things persons who have been laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic will need to do is take account of their finances.

“It’s never easy coping with a job loss. In fact, it is regarded as one of lives most traumatic experiences, but the reality is that you can get through it once you can quickly device a survival plan,” says Rose Miller, financial literacy expert who leads the JN Foundation’s BeWi$e financial empowerment programme.

Addressing the JN Bank Redesigning Your 2020 Goals online series recently, she gave this advice on what you should you do if you are laid off without a plan:

  1. Determine How You Are Spending Your Money: When times are good, most people do not think about how they spend money.

“We know how much the mortgage or rent, and monthly car payments are, but we don’t pay attention to daily spending. How much is spent on groceries? What about utilities and insurance? What about fast food?” she asked.

The JN Foundation grants manager said persons must strive to be more aware about how they spend their money, as this will force them to spend it more carefully.

  1. See Where You Can Cut Back: “If you’re facing a layoff, you need to come up with a plan for cutting expenses. Develop a budget that eliminates most unnecessary expenses. The goal is to cut back on those expenses substantially,” Mrs Miller advised. She said persons should focus on the essentials, mortgage or rent, food, utilities, and their medical needs. All other expenses, including entertainment, fast food and clothes, can be eliminated or significantly slashed.
  1. Consolidate your Loans: “If you are already in debt, particularly credit card debt, you may want to consolidate your loans into a single monthly payment with a lower interest rate. If you own a home, consider a low-interest home equity loan,” Mrs Miller said.
  2. Take Advantage of Any Payment or Relief Programmes: Keep your ears to the ground, so that you do not miss out on any opportunity for assistance from the government, the church or corporate Jamaica,” Mrs Miller recommended.

Many organisations, including financial institutions, have announced measures through which they will be providing relief or assistance to persons experiencing financial difficulties, during the COVID-19 pandemic. The government has also announced relief packages for affected groups and some church organisations have been collecting donations, to assist the most vulnerable.

Mrs Miller said persons in dire need of financial assistance should not be afraid to take advantage of any of these opportunities.

  1. Use Your Skills or Talents to Make Money: You will be able to stretch your savings if you have additional income. Consider using your talents to make some money. While it would be best if you could find temporary or part-time work in your field, your hobbies and other interests may offer possibilities for income.

Mrs Miller advised that persons who can sew can take advantage of the increased need for face masks. “Other ways you can take advantage of the opportunities created by the pandemic is to offer a delivery service. If you have a reliable motor car, put it to use by offering to make food and other type of deliveries at a reasonable cost. You can also consider selling ground provisions from the truck of your motor vehicle,” she advised.

She said, for example, that persons with skills in English, mathematics or other subjects can offer online tutoring to students currently out of school.

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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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