Tue | Dec 1, 2020

A gateway to giving - Janet Richards Foundation’s launch a positive amid COVID negatives

Published:Wednesday | October 21, 2020 | 12:15 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer
Philanthropist Janet Richards.
Philanthropist Janet Richards.
Joylene Griffiths
Joylene Griffiths
Janet Richards Foundation
Janet Richards Foundation

Western Bureau:

Sunday’s launch of the philanthropic Janet Richards Foundation has provided persons who have a spirit of giving, similar to founder Janet Richards, with a gateway to healthier and happier living at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has created negative emotions among many citizens.

The foundation, which was registered last June, had its official launch via a Zoom conference filled with music and tributes from friends and beneficiaries of the goodwill work done by Richards, who has performed multiple acts of charity in both St James and her native Hanover since 2008.

In her appreciation speech, Richards, who is now retired after having worked at the Bank of Nova Scotia’s Sam Sharpe Square branch in Montego Bay, St James, attributed her spirit of charity to the influence of her now-deceased parents during her childhood days in Kendal, Hanover.

“As the ‘wash belly’ (last child) of seven children, I watched my parents participate in a lot of sharing in my beloved district. My mother shared whatever little she had, even in her last days in the hospital, and my father, who was a large farmer, would drop off things at different homes when he was coming from the farm in the evenings,” Richards recalled.

“At this point, I would like to say thank you to my many special persons who have contributed to this foundation. We could not touch the lives of so many without the hands of blessings from you all,” Richards added.

While delivering the keynote address during Sunday’s launch, Joylene Griffiths, former executive director of the Scotiabank Foundation, noted several positive physical benefits to outreach work such as that carried out by the Janet Richards Foundation.

“This is a bold move in 2020, the year so many people want to forget, because starting a foundation at this time is a great way to contribute to the health of your community. There are studies that show that giving is good for the giver, as it lowers your blood pressure, increases your self-esteem, lessens depression, lowers your stress level, and gives longer life and greater happiness,” said Griffiths.

Outreach Activities

The foundation’s outreach activities under Richards have included collaborative work to support the wards of the Mustard Seed Communities’ children’s home in Adelphi, St James, and the Melody House for Girls in Irwin, St James. She has also carried out community outreach programmes in Kendal, Hanover, including back-to-school treats for the children in that area.

In 2018, Richards’ acts of goodwill resulted in her receiving the Jamaica 55 Commemorative Medal of Appreciation from Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

Ashaud Shirley, a young man whose life was impacted for the better through Richards’ philanthropy, praised her as a caring and maternal figure.

“From the time I have met her, she has been the kindest and most caring person I know. Meeting her was probably the most life-changing thing that has ever happened to me,” said Shirley. “I really admire how she goes about her daily doings in the community, and in all her interactions I find her to be a caring person, and she takes on all of us as her family.”