Over the past decade, the Boys’ Town Toronto chapter has raised thousands of dollars to support youth and other social programs in the impoverished community in Jamaica.
The main fundraising source is a golf tournament held since 2003 that has generated nearly $15,000. This year’s event took place two weeks ago at Humber Valley course in the presence of long-time Boys’ Town program co-ordinator and volunteer Trevor Spence.
Spence came to Toronto last week to thank the local chapter and its friends for their generous financial contributions over the years.
“We have chapters in New York, Miami and London that support the important work we do,” said Spence, who is also a Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) consultant. “But the Toronto chapter stands out for its activity and consistency. The work that we are doing with young people requires deep partnerships that the chapter in this wonderful city is providing. It’s for this reason that I was happy to accept an invitation to come here and give the people an idea of what we are doing with their support.”
Chair of the Boys’ Town Toronto chapter golf committee Tim Escoffery said it was important for Spence to come to Toronto to share his vision for Boys’ Town and also update the group here on how the donations are being used.
“We understand that these are challenging economic times and the ability to make financial contributions to worthy causes might be limited,” he said. “That’s why we appreciate the contributions we are able to send to Jamaica and I thought it was vital that Trevor, who is at the centre of the activities we support, talk to our people here directly about how their donations are being utilized. It makes a huge difference to get a first-hand account of what is happening from those involved on the ground.”
After prolonged neglect, Boys’ Town is experiencing revitalization, hope and abundant energy.
With the help of supporters at home and in the Diaspora and a CIDA three-year Can$600,000 grant, Spence and his team have developed several programs aimed at providing young people with employable and life skills.
“The hope is that Boys’ Town, which is a community that was railroaded by tribal political influences but kept afloat by committed volunteers, will become a model of how you change life of inner city youth and help them to become useful societal citizens,” said Spence who graduated from Calabar High School and the University of the West Indies Theological College.
A new lab with 20 computers was opened last December at Hugh Sherlock Hall and in March, 24 young people between the ages of 15 and 18 were the first graduates of the University of Technology (UTECH) College of Health Sciences’ five-week Homecare Assistance program.
Co-author of the Jamaican national anthem and Methodist minister Father Hugh Sherlock founded Boys’ Town in 1940.
Boys’ Town has produced several outstanding Jamaicans, including civil engineer and social worker Locksley Comrie and former West Indies cricketer Collie Smith who succumbed to injuries following an automobile accident in England in September 1959.