Sun | Sep 22, 2019

COJO contributions near $100m

Published:Saturday | August 10, 2019 | 12:12 AMJanet Silvera/Senior Gleaner Writer
Winner of a six days, five nights stay at Couples Resort and round-trip tickets from Jetblue, Rose Green (centre) accepts her prize from host Sheree Sparkes and Gary Williams, founder and chairman of Children of Jamaica Outreach, last Saturday night.
Winner of a six days, five nights stay at Couples Resort and round-trip tickets from Jetblue, Rose Green (centre) accepts her prize from host Sheree Sparkes and Gary Williams, founder and chairman of Children of Jamaica Outreach, last Saturday night.

WESTERN BUREAU:

In 25 years, Children Outreach of Jamaica (COJO) has contributed US$700,000 (J$91 million) to education, and in 2019, the diaspora-based group will pump $5.2 million into transforming the lives of state wards.

“COJO recognises that education is a powerful tool for helping persons achieve economic and social growth. The organisation focuses specifically on wards of children’s homes, an underserved demographic whose needs are great and who invariably have no other sources of funding to pursue tertiary education,” COJO’s founder Gary Williams told The Gleaner.

In addition to its summer soiréee, which was staged in Long Island, New York, last weekend, COJO raises funds at its Scholarship Gala and Awards Ceremony, held annually in December.

“Funds raised from these events, as well as a raffle of prizes of hotel stays in various resorts in Jamaica and round trip travel vouchers from JetBlue Airways, are used to provide scholarships to tertiary institutions in Jamaica,” said Williams during the Ninth Annual Summer Soirée at Horatio and Sheree Sparkes’ home in New York.

Come December, COJO will have its formal dinner at which awards are presented in a number of categories, including community service and vision. The combined funds will provide scholarships to Jamaican students.

The Sparkes, who migrated from Jamaica years ago, welcomed more than 200 patrons to their Long Island home, where they hosted last weekend’s event. They are described by Williams as well-known philanthropists.

“They have committed to the COJO vision of providing support for the academic development and advancement of deserving students for Jamaica’s children’s homes.”

Like the Sparkes, those in attendance at the summer event have been supporting COJO’s thrust for several years.

The attendees included upstanding members of the Jamaican or Caribbean community, who also traditionally take their relatives and friends to the various COJO-hosted events and are part of the COJO “family”, working towards a common cause.

“Many are professionals – doctors, attorneys, shippers, philanthropists – who volunteer services with COJO and other agencies,” said Williams.

The fundraiser was bolstered by fashion houses Mushroom, Jamaica; Brooklyn-based Moshood Creations; and Signature Closet Boutique, which all showcased their ware in a fashion show.

janet.silvera@gleanerjm.com