Mon | Jan 18, 2021

‘I know what it’s like to not have it’ - Junior Whyte feels a duty to assist elderly, disabled in his community

Published:Friday | May 1, 2020 | 12:24 AMVanessa James/Gleaner Writer

At a time when dark COVID-19 clouds hang over the country, Junior Whyte has been a shining light in Allman Town, Kingston, giving a helping hand to the elderly and persons with disabilities in the community.

Whyte started his outreach mission three weeks ago after realising that many of these residents did not benefit from the food donations made by the political representatives who had visited the area. He then decided to use a portion of his salary to assist them with food items.

“The first set of packages that I did was 16 bags, so about 16 elderly benefited. Then I did 10 more the following week, and did another 10 yesterday,” Whyte told The Gleaner on Wednesday.

His efforts are also being supported by a number of kind supporters, whose assistance has been greatly appreciated by the community.

“I have been getting a lot of donations, especially from the L.P. Azar brand, Internet personality Wally British, and Nation Builders, which is a charity; they came on board and assisted as well,” Whyte said.

The goodie bags contain mainly non-perishable items and sugar-free snacks and juices, along with masks donated by the HEART/NSTA Trust-HOPE project.

“A lot of people are grateful for the bags because they often say that they didn’t know that somebody really cared about them,” said Whyte. “Even yesterday, when I went to a house, an elderly lady who couldn’t even walk was in tears, saying that she has been there for two days, her son isn’t working, so there was no food, and the package that I brought was a tremendous blessing.”

Whyte also expressed concern for the living conditions of Tyrone Phillips, whose house was burnt down.

When The Gleaner visited Phillips, he was grateful that he had coverage from the elements in a wooden structure, which was donated by the Government.

“What I would like is some paint to paint up the place good, and some concrete to finish the floor,” said the 60-year-old.

NOT ABLE TO WORK

Phillips, who previously earned his keep as a gardener, is no longer able to work after having a stroke and now uses a walker to get around.

He is seeking assistance with food and cooking gas as he has to rely on wood fire to cook his meals.

Phillips’ story is one that has touched Whyte, who is appealing for help on his behalf, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“He (Phillips) is one of my main concerns now, so I am in the process of seeking donations to buy him a gas, some food, and try to see if I can get some persons to finish his floor and try get some clothes for him and stuff,” said Whyte.

Charity is not uncommon for Whyte as he often feeds homeless persons in the downtown Kingston area and does visits to children’s homes at Christmas. He also hosts back-to-school treats for the community.

He said that his drive to give back is born out of the fact that at one point in his life, he had found himself in a position of great need.

“I once was in a spot where I needed to be given to, so I know what it feels like to be hungry, and I know what it feels like to not have it, so I grew up with this thing in me to always give back,” Whyte said.

He is seeking more partners to sustain the charity effort and to expand it to more residents in the community.

“I am pleading to corporate Jamaica to – as my slogan since the pandemic says – ‘Help me to help somebody’ because there are a lot more elderly persons in the community that I haven’t touched as yet,” Whyte said, as he also called on other Jamaicans to reach out to persons needing assistance in their communities.

If you can assist Junior Whyte’s initiative, he can be reached at (876) 512-6846 or juniorwhyte55@gmail.com.

vanessa.james@gleanerjm.com