Just over three years ago the Rotary Club of Kingston celebrated 50 years of service in Jamaica. The celebration was huge and our Past President Chris Issa did an extraordinary job in spearheading the publication displayed on your tables today. These are your complimentary copies and while some Rotarians may already have theirs, younger Rotarians are encouraged to take one and to read and familiarize yourselves about the rich history of Rotary in Jamaica. Some Rotarians will recall the event when 24 Rotary clubs islandwide gathered at this location to celebrate Rotary’s 50 years of Service in Jamaica.
While we are in the midst of our country’s celebrations of emancipation and 50 years of independence, we the Rotary Club of Kingston join in wishing Jamaica kudos for this milestone achievement in nation building as we proudly take our place in that celebration as the first Rotary club and also the first service club in Jamaica. It has probably not been adequately documented how service clubs in general have played a remarkable role in Jamaica’s development; how service clubs are probably the largest non-governmental group to champion so many causes, in such varied aspects of Jamaican life, for the most part without partisanship, political nuance, geographical divide, and expectation of personal gains or paybacks.
Today, as we recognize 50 years of Jamaican independence, the Rotary Club of Kingston recognizes and celebrates in particular our club’s contribution to Jamaica’s development over those 50 years. We take another look at aspects of our greatness in producing and/or developing our human resources, through the offerings of Rotarians who have shone on the national and international scenes. Fellow Rotarians and guests it is no mean feat that the Rotary Club of Kingston has helped to hone some of the country’s finest statesmen, as well as having helped to develop or contribute positively to the lives of thousands outside of our club.
We often speak of the late Rotarian Charlie Braham, founding member, past president of our club and District Governor in the 1980/1981 administration. Affectionately known as ‘Mr. Rotary’ he was a Jamaican who achieved a number of rotary firsts. So significant were his achievements that the Charlie Braham award was established in his honour, for among other things, his dedication to the philosophy of "Service above Self"; his commitment to the development and participation of the members in all our club's projects; and his active encouragement of the worldwide advancement of the Rotary philosophy.
It is notable and probably not without coincidence that our illustrious statesman PDG Mike Fennell is not with us today, as he performs his international duties at the London 2012 Olympics. The Honorable Mike Fennell was bestowed with the national award of Commander of the Order of Distinction (CD) in 1984; and in 2005 he was conferred with the Order of Jamaica (OJ) the fourth highest national honour for outstanding service in the field of sports. Regionally he has received the Caribbean Community’s (Caricom’s) 25th Anniversary award and he is respected internationally for the wealth of experience that makes him one of the leading authorities on major global and regional multi-sports events. Known for being president of the Commonwealth Games, president of Jamaica Olympic Association for decades, he is our Past District Governor and Past President who impacted the lives of persons in the Jones Town community when he upgraded the sport facility at the old Calabar High School in Jones Town including building a tennis court in this inner city community in 1977.
The late Rotarian Keith Daleyis known within and outside our club for his significant contribution to the integration of persons with disabilities in communities throughout Jamaica with the installation of access facilities and special parking in hotels, banks, supermarkets, churches, shopping malls and theatres. Among his many contributions is a publication Building Guidelines for the Disabled which was widely acclaimed by Disabled Peoples International as one of the most comprehensive documents of its kind and was distributed in many countries throughout the region. Excerpts from the booklet have been incorporated in Jamaica's Building Code. PDG Keith Daley was instrumental in the introduction of sign language translation of the news on Jamaican television which has evolved to closed captioning, to assist the hearing impaired. In recognition of his services to the Disabled, the Government of Jamaica conferred on him the National Honour of Order of Distinction (O.D.) in 1986.
It should therefore be evident how these Rotarians of the Rotary Club of Kingston have impacted positively thousands of persons at home and abroad; and have contributed both independent of Rotary as well as working through Rotary to impact upon and contribute to Jamaica’s post-independence development.
Fellow Rotarians and Guests let us remind ourselves of just some of the well documented projects highlighted in our 50th year celebration publication. We recall our Senior Citizen’s Project adopted by PP Poker Chandiram which continues today as our longest ongoing project; PP Al Cotterrel made his mark at the Bustamante Hospital for Children when he established the Asthma/Respiratory Clinic in 1996; PP Wesley Bernard’s Project ‘Reap’ dealt with Renewal of the Environment when it targeted Wolmer’s Boys’ and Girls’ Schools; PP William McLeod’s project of ‘Operation English’ assisted students of Camperdown High School and later the Computer Laboratory at St. Michael’s Primary School helped the community of Tower Street; the Penwood Medical and Dental Clinic serving Penwood, Olympic Way, Waterhouse and Tower Hill was a project under Past President Jimmy Brassington. PAG Paul Morgan spearheaded Nutrition for Life in the establishment of a research institution looking at the effects of malnutrition - helping countries beyond our shores; while the Riverton Meadows Project of PP Jim Lacy created a skills training/educational project for Riverton Meadows.
The limited time does not permit us to elaborate on the successes of these extraordinary projects or to mention the several other very worthwhile ones that continue to touch the lives of thousands of our people whilst aiding our country’s development.
Developing our Human Resources
Dear to the heart of our President is that intangible component of human resources. President Manley continues to believe that investing in our human resources is the greatest means by which we can achieve national development – and too often the potential of our human resource is underestimated, and their development overlooked. It is in that context that this year’s BACK2LIFE Project is focused upon investing in our young men and offering them a real chance at life.
Your support for BACK2LIFE is a continuation of our club’s contribution to national development. Incarcerated though they may be, we must show these boys at the Rio Cobre Juvenile Correctional Centre that we as a society love them notwithstanding that we condemn their behavior. Investing in them is an investment in sports, academics, music, technology, research and development, and the list goes on. The return to us fellow Rotarians and guests is Peace. And it ought not to be lost on you that that’s what Rotary is about this year - ‘Peace through Service’.
Celebrating Service above Self
Let us therefore celebrate this period of our history with pride. We the members of the Rotary Club of Kingston are proud to be Jamaicans, proud of our contribution to the growth of our nation. We are now called upon to pave the way for another 50 years of development; and it is our people, and consistent with the emphasis proffered by Rotary International, our young people, that we emphasize as the bedrock of that thrust forward. Let us continue to give ‘Service Above Self’. Let us engage all Rotarians of this noble club to join together to continue to build Jamaica; let’s re-engage. Let us invite and induct new members to join our efforts. Let us partner with likeminded entities and individuals to achieve our objectives.
President Manley extends on behalf of the full membership of our club a congratulatory celebration to Jamaica’s 50 years of nation building and a commitment from Rotary to even greater contributions to this blessed country and its people.