The province’s Carpenters Union has made the largest ever single donation to a Canadian charitable organization which has adopted more than 350 basic schools and early childhood institutions in Jamaica and impacted the lives of nearly 55,000 children over the last 24 years.
Jamaican-born Ucal Powell, the executive secretary-treasurer of the Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario (CDCO), presented a $50,000 cheque (approximately Jam$4.5 million) to Project for the Advancement of Childhood Education (PACE) president Mary Anne Chambers last week.
The former Ontario cabinet minister said she was shocked when she opened the cheque.
“This is an outstanding show of generosity and an example of genuine altruism by the Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario under the great leadership of Ucal Powell,” said Chambers. “The physical facilities that house the majority of early childhood institutions in Jamaica are a far cry from what most Ontario children are able to take for granted.
“The lives of the little boys and girls who will benefit from having the right kind of environment in which to learn and develop will be greatly enriched. I have no doubt that this gift will also be a source of great pride for the community in which the school will be located.”
For just a dollar a day, individuals or groups can participate in the organization’s Adopt-A-School core program. The annual $365 donation is sent to the sponsored school where the principal, community leaders and parents determine how the funds should be utilized to improve the educational institution.
Individuals and groups have donated sizeable amounts in the past, but last week’s gift far exceeded any one-time charitable contribution.
Jamaica’s Consul General George Ramocan attended the presentation and thanked Powell for the substantial donation.
“Nations across the globe are gradually becoming aware of the vital role their Diaspora plays in national development,” Ramocan said. “Concurrently, the support that the developed world has given to the developing world in the past is fast diminishing in the face of the global financial crisis and the rise in natural disasters being experienced globally which places severe constraints on their resources.
“It is in this light that this contribution being made through the collaboration of two outstanding Jamaicans here in Canada exemplifies the potential we have within the Diaspora.”
Powell, a graduate of St. Andrew Technical High School who migrated to Canada 42 years ago, fulfilled a commitment he made last November to Jamaica’s Education Minister Andrew Holness to support early childhood education in the Caribbean island.
Holness was the keynote speaker at PACE’s brunch.
The CDCO represents nearly 20,000 workers in a variety of skilled trades, including carpentry, drywall and resilient flooring.
A carpenter by trade, Powell joined the union a year after coming to Canada in 1969.
He’s a founding member of 31 Division Community Police Liaison Committee bursary program designed to assist young people interested in obtaining marketable skills through education and apprenticeship and the Humber River Regional Hospital Foundation board of directors.