When their daughter came home from school in tears two years ago pleading with her parents to help the other kids whose families were struggling to adequately outfit them to strive in the classroom, husband and wife, Asmar and Jhoenea Bremmer, knew they had to do something.
The young Jamaican couple of five years founded Bremmer’s Support a Local Child charity in the Little London, Westmoreland district to enhance the lives of young people.
Collaborating with the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), the Bremmers encourage visitors to the island to bring clothing, non-perishable food and school supplies to the community for distribution to needy children.
“This is also a way to throw the spotlight on the community and get it recognized,” said 24-year-old Jhoenea, who is one of 12 inaugural winners of Scotiabank’s Bright Future Young Leaders Award.
The winners were required to be residents in countries where Scotiabank has branches, complete 100 hours of volunteerism in a minimum of three of the bank’s six philanthropic pillars and submit an essay describing the impact of their volunteerism on charitable organizations, their community and themselves.
Bremmer and the other winners will receive a tablet computer and a Can$2500 Scotiabank donation in their name to direct to a charity of their choice.
The donation will no doubt be channelled to the Bremmers’ charity, which also hosts an annual community fun day where guest speakers from the JTB, the child development agency, the social development commission and the behaviour change unit are invited to speak and interface with young people in the community. Children are also provided with immunization, haircuts and food free of charge.
A 2010 University of the West Indies graduate, Bremmer resigned her full-time job as a restaurant supervisor three years ago to commit fully to the charity. Her husband did the same thing three months later to support his wife.
She said she’s humbled to be one of the 12 lucky winners.
“I am grateful and thankful to Scotiabank for doing this as I can now use this honour as another approach to get the community members – especially the young people – involved in volunteering,” said Bremmer. “Hopefully, they will now open accounts, volunteer and enter to win as I did.”
Scotiabank has had a presence in Jamaica since 1889. The bank has 35 branches with nearly 2,000 staff throughout the country.
Bremmer is one of two Jamaicans to win the Scotiabank award. The other is 22-year-old Jerome Cowan. The remaining winners are from Guyana, Chile, Ontario and British Columbia.
Sylvia Chrominska, Scotiabank’s group head of global human resources and communication, said the young winners represent the next generation of community leaders.
“They remind us of the essential role of volunteers to the long-term operation of charitable organizations,” said Chrominska. “For more than 180 years, Scotiabank employees have been supporting the unique needs of each community we serve. It is exciting to have youth from these communities join us in building on this tradition of creating bright futures – one community at a time.”
The panel of jurors reviewing the essays included the Learning Partnership’s former president and chief executive officer, Veronica Lacey.
“I was very impressed by the passion and commitment of each of the applicants,” said Lacey. “Their volunteerism has made an important impact on each of their communities and on their own lives. It was a pleasure to review the submissions and I congratulate each applicant on the important contributions they are making. Through giving back, each has learned, grown and enriched the lives of others. There can be no better reward for service.”
The award program details can be found at www.scotiayoungleaders.com.