Chevannes Basic School Celebrates Christmas

Students and teachers at the Chavannes Basic School in Barbican were in a celebratory mood as the bathroom facility at the 43-year-old school was renovated and upgraded by the JN Bank Member Advisory Council.

“The bathroom was in a really bad condition,” said Caroline Brown, principal of the school. “Termites were eating away at the boards. Then JN came in and they assisted us as the facility became unsafe for the children.”

Brown said that the work involved removing the infected boards, spraying, replacing the bathroom vanity and toilet, as well as repairing the roof and improving the ventilation of the facility.

“The children are happy for it. Therefore, I extend our gratitude to JN Bank as we really appreciate the work which was done to improve the facility,” she said.

Christine Chambers said the Council decided to focus on early-childhood institutions for its project, and, as such, identified several of those institutions which needed assistance. Subsequently, Chevannes Basic School, which had greater needs, was selected.

“As we walked into the facility, my asthma triggered. It was an old trailer which was retrofitted. The inside lining of the bathroom was infected with termites. Therefore, to address it, we had to remove the entire lining of the bathroom and replace it,” she said.

“We are very happy that the Chevannes Basic School was selected, because those little children needed a bathroom facility which they could use in comfort,” she added.

Saniah Spencer, chief of marketing and product development, JN Bank, said that the Advisory Council was happy that they were able to assist the institution.

“The MAC (Member Advisory Council) tried to identify projects that would have an impact, and Chevannes Basic School is an institution which serves the communities of Stand Pipe, Papine, Gordon Town and as far as Portmore, St Catherine. Our children deserve the best and JN Bank was happy to be on board for the project,” she said.

The JN Bank’s MAC, formerly known as the Branch Advisory Councils, were established in 2006 to provide JN members with the opportunity to engage directly in the identification and selection of projects within their communities and positively impact the beneficiaries.

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Fix it! – JN grants manager says poor debt management can affect physical health

The start of a new year always brings with it deep reflection. It’s a time when most persons often make decisions about the things they want to change in their lives or the goals they want to attain in the new year.
It is also a time when some persons frequently pause to reflect on the condition of their physical and mental health or the state of their finances. However, what many persons fail to realise is that these two subjects often go “hand in hand.”
Rose Miller, grants manager at the JN Foundation and head of the JN BeWi$e Financial Empower Programme, advised that the age-old adage, “health is wealth,” is more than a cliché. Miller pointed out that financial mismanagement can seriously impact one’s physical and mental well-being.
Recent statistics from the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) revealed that $56.60 of every $100 earned by households in Jamaica is used to finance debt. The information was revealed in the Financial Stability Report 2018. That is the highest level of household debt mapped by the central bank to date, which highlights that Jamaicans are currently servicing three times more debt than they did a decade ago.
According to the BOJ, the underlying reason for the upsurge in debt relates to consumer loans, which have increased three times as fast as income annually.
Many more Jamaicans are also diagnosed with lifestyle illnesses, such as heart disease and strokes, with non-communicable diseases (NCDs) representing two-thirds of all deaths in Jamaica.
Miller noted that while NCDs share several common, modifiable risk factors – tobacco use, harmful alcohol abuse, physical inactivity, and unhealthy diet – taking strides to improve financial health can also have benefits for physical and mental health.
“Part of a wellness-centred lifestyle should also include paying careful attention to your finances and ensure that you’re setting yourself up for a prosperous life,” she advised.
Here are some of the most common ways poor money management can manifest itself physically.
1. Raised Diastolic Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is the precursor to a myriad of health problems, including but not limited to heart attacks and strokes. A 2013 Northwestern University study in the United States of America showed that adults ages 24 to 32, who had high debts, also had higher diastolic blood pressure. “This is an age group which, money issues aside, should be in optimal health. When it comes to heart disease, we can’t help our genetic predisposition; however, we can certainly make an effort to pay down our debts as quickly as possible, which will be of significant help,” she maintained.
2. Greater muscle tension
Muscle tension, including back pain, has been reported in persons with high debt stress. In addition, 44 per cent had migraines or other headaches, compared to just 15 per cent without debt stress, according to a 2008 Associated Press-AOL health poll. “If you believe you’re suffering from tension due to money problems, consider coupling your financial plan with exercises, such as: walking, aerobics, or simple stretches,” Miller advised.
3. Worsened digestive symptoms
The digestive system is often referred to as the centre of health. When under heavy financial stress, many persons do not maintain proper eating habits. Healthy food may not even be accessible or affordable for those in financial trouble. In addition, statistics from a 2008 Associated Press-AOL health poll reveal that 27 per cent of persons with high debt stress reported having ulcers or other digestive tract problems, compared to just eight per cent without debt stress.
4. Depression
If you have major debts, or if you recently lost your job, things can turn bleak very quickly if you are without a financial cushion. Feelings of despair are therefore common. The 2008 Associated Press-AOL health poll also revealed that some 23 per cent of those persons with debt reported having severe depression, compared to just four per cent who were not indebted. The poll also found that there was a 14 per cent increase in depression symptoms with every 10 per cent increase in personal debt.
Miller advised that a life well lived is based on proper financial management.
“While there are many things you can do to improve your physical and mental health, including exercise, eating right, cultivating meaningful relationships, getting regular check-ups and rest, there’s no denying the science behind, and the connection between, health and finances,” she maintained.
“Do everything in your power to keep your credit score high, your debt low, and your savings and investments plenty. You’ll reap the reward both physically and mentally. If needs be, prioritise health, as it is a critical pillar for a successful life.”

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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 beloved Christmas songs as they did with the JN Foundation ACT!ON corps and their caregivers at the Golden Age Home.


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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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Sunbeam – JN Bank / JN Foundation Handing Over

Desmond Whitley (sitting), manager at the Sunbeam Children’s Home  shows off one of the laptops that was received from the JN Member Advisory Council. Making the presentations were (from left) Tisharn Farquharson, member hospitality officer, JN Bank Old Harbour; Chevanese Peters, programmes coordinator, JN Foundation; Paulette Chambers-Salmon, business relationship and sales manager, at the JN Bank May Pen branch and Alicia Young-Grey of the Marketing department, JN Bank.

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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.

Contact:  Dionne Rose l JN Corporate Communications

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Chairman’s Report – 2019

Parris Lyew Ayee, CD     


Theme: “JN Foundation Will Help You Find A Way”

Over the course of 2019, the JN Foundation, the philanthropic arm of The Jamaica National Group, delivered truly impactful initiatives, each designed to help Jamaicans to find a way. This was achieved through continued commitment to programme delivery under our five key areas of work: skills and personal development, education, health and safety, social empowerment, and the environment.

Our Financial Literacy Project, a flagship initiative of the Foundation, was relentless about engaging and sharing the tools and knowledge on managing finances with countless Jamaicans. A total of 3,179 persons benefitted from 71 financial literacy sessions held across the country. The JN Foundation team is to be commended for their commitment, which has allowed them to engage 23,608 persons since 2014, helping each to understand their finances better.

An ongoing concern for us at the JN Foundation is the number of persons who lose their lives unnecessarily on the nation’s roadways each year. For several years we have dedicated ourselves to raising awareness on good road use habits, to reduce the carnage on the roads. Through our X Marks the Spot road-safety initiative, a partnership with UNICEF and ABERTIS Foundation, more than 5,000 students benefitted from the upgrades completed under the initiative. Further, 15,026 primary school children were better able to keep safe on our roads because of their participation in the Police in Schools Programme.

True to our mission to inspire change across the nation, the JN Foundation partnered with UNICEF and the Ministry of Culture under the national theme, “Road Safety – It’s You, It’s Me, It’s All Ah We”, to support the rehabilitation of crosswalks all over the country. It was good to see communities and individuals across the country get involved.

Each year I am inspired by the young students we assist to complete their high school education, through the JN Foundation’s Annual Scholarship Programme. In 2019, some 264 high achievers were awarded scholarships. A total of 34 students were awarded PEP Scholarships: 14 were parish high performers, 18 were the children of JN members of staff, and two were specially awarded scholars. Eighty-seven recipients were repeating JN Scholars who achieved averages of 70% and over on their high school reports, and 16 university students received a one-year tuition grant.


The JN Foundation was especially pleased to award 26 student scholarships under our new scholarship offering – the Michael Holding Cricket Masters disbursement.

The JN Foundation Parish Histories Project continues in capturing the authentic stories and factual records of each Parish for the people of Jamaica to easily read.

Under the Water Project Jamaica, the JN Foundation pursued a dynamic programme to sensitize and educate Jamaicans to practise diverse water-saving measures at home and to improve their conservation of water with the installation of water-saving devices. This year, we piloted training in rainwater harvesting and greywater recycling for several developers, architects, students, and other interested persons.

Rainwater Harvesting & Grey Water Recycling Training Launch

(from left) Onika Miller, then managing director of the MCS Group, Therese Turner-Jones, general manager, country representative Jamaica, Inter- American Development Bank, Parris Lyew-Ayee, chairman and Onyka Barrett Scott, General Manager of the JN Foundation, Earl Samuels, Assistant General Manager of the JN Group and Leesa Kow, deputy managing director, JN Bank, smiling at the camera at the launch of the Rainwater Harvesting & Grey Water Recycling Training to Developers at the Jamaica Pegasus on September 11, 2019.

I commend the outstanding JN Foundation team, led by Onyka Barrett Scott, General Manager, and the dedicated Members of the Board of Directors for being steadfast and committed to ensuring that the JN Foundation delivers on its promise, to “help Jamaicans to achieve their full potential.”

Well done, Team JN Foundation!

Parris A. Lyew-Ayee, CD

Chairman, JN Foundation

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General Manager’s Report

The JN Foundation continues to be humbled by the opportunity to serve, by finding ways to help countless Jamaicans fulfil their potential. In 2019, the JN Foundation team was pleased to be able to work in partnership with our young people, their communities and with our JN membership to inspire change in small and large ways.


At the JN Foundation, we strongly believe in the role that education can play in uplifting families, communities and the nation at large. Over the course of 2019, we disbursed 264 scholarships, with at least 100 of those who benefitted being identified as residing in volatile and underserved communities.

Increasingly, our young people have been demonstrating a desire to understand ways of generating and managing money. This interest is to be commended. We were able to impart such knowledge to 817 young persons between the ages of 6-17 over the course of 2019. We truly look forward to them not only applying the information shared but also telling a friend or loved one. This is a key and necessary ingredient in generating the economic stability associated with Jamaica’s vision 2030.

Supporting our communities

At the heart of the endeavor to become the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business, is Jamaica’s need to solve and resolve the complex needs of a myriad of communities spread across the island. Here at the JN Foundation, we have elevated two areas that we see as critical to this endeavor – helping to shape a positive identity and addressing the unnecessary loss of life on the nation’s roadways.

In collaboration with the UWI Mona, we have been able to research, document and publish the parish histories of St. Thomas, Portland, Trelawny, St. Mary and St. Catherine. There is so much to learn from our past that can help in our decision-making for a better tomorrow. We continue to encourage community members to avail themselves of this information.

Research commissioned by the JN Foundation in 2017 – the Cost of Care report – revealed the extremely high cost and heavy burden being borne by the country, individual families and communities every time a road traffic crash occurs. This illuminating report has helped to us to further solidify our commitment to addressing road safety issues. During 2019, we continued to keep focus on the “X Marks the Spot School Crosswalk Campaign”, a partnership with UNICEF, designed to ensure our children have safe passage to and from school.

Labour Day 2019

For Labour Day, the JN Foundation partnered with UNICEF, Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment & Sport and Ministry of Labour to deliver the nationwide Labour Day campaign – “Child Safety – It’s You, It’s Me, It’s All Ah We”. What an inspirational moment to see so many communities coalesce around the need to keep our children safe, by electing to re-paint crosswalks in their locales.

2019 also heralded the inauguration of the JN Circles initiative – a network of JN members and customers who, together, are being exposed to opportunities to realize their full potential, and at the same time are jointly finding ways to help their communities.

The JN Foundation was pleased to work alongside the Member Ombudsman to conduct inaugural meetings for the new clubs and share with Circle members, different ways they could deliver impactful interventions in their communities.

Our Partners

It should be evident that all of the Foundation’s work over 2019 simply won’t be possible without our partners – our external donor partners, our sister companies in the JN Group and JN staff members. You make it all possible. We simply won’t want to do this without you.

A very special mention of the JN Foundation team – you persist in spite of the hurdles and are beyond committed to our various communities of interest. Well done, and let’s make 2020 even more memorable and impactful.

JN Foundation team posing for the camera after the successful staging of their Annual Donors Breakfast event at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in May 2020.

Onyka Barrett Scott

General Manager

JN Foundation

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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.

Contact:  Dionne Rose l JN Corporate Communications

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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.

Contact:  Dionne Rose l JN Corporate Communications

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