BY ALYSSA MAHADEO
All across the globe, we hear of many different initiatives and organizations all working toward their own cause hoping to change the world and stimulate growth in the years to come. For over ten years the Helping Hands Jamaica Foundation (HHJF) has been actively working to improve the lives of the next generation of Jamaicans, by implementing world-class education systems through financing infrastructure developments, resource materials and expertise.
Founder and Chair of Helping Hands Jamaica, Karl Hale was living in Toronto at the time and he was very much aware of the social and economical changes of his homeland in the Caribbean. Originally hailing from Falmouth, Jamaica, Hale desired to help his people in anyway that he could. Through his success as a tennis player, working as the Tournament Director of the Rogers Cup Tennis Tournament in Toronto and being a member on the board for very prestigious tennis coaching organizations, Hale had built a network of organizations and individuals that he could potentially work with to implement this mission.
He met with the Counsel General at the time, Anne-Marie Bonner to discuss ways to help develop education and healthcare in Jamaica. She was receptive to the idea that he proposed and through her support he launched his foundation starting work to help the Jamaican community. Three short months later they had organized their first Gala held at the Donalda Club, raising $10,000 towards their cause. They were overwhelmed at the response they received, building on a strong foundation to lay the bricks of the future.
Since their inception Helping Hands Jamaica has worked in partnership with many well-known organizations in the Caribbean community to realize their mission. HHJF has been successful in their work with the help of companies like BREDS, Kisko, Gore Developments, Food for the Poor Canada, SunWing, Jambana, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, Atlantic and many more. They have raised over $1 Million and built eleven schools in underprivileged and underdeveloped areas in Jamaica. The HHJF has assisted almost 6,000 students and lent their support to fifty other basic schools across the islands. They have focused most of their resources on expanding children’s opportunities in Jamaica through educational development, in the hopes that they can continue the growth of the economy through young and impressionable minds.
Many of their supporters are Jamaican born and so they carry with them a love and affinity for the island they call home. Their desire to help in whatever ways that they can is personal and many of these individuals are actively involved in the construction of each school. Earlier this month, they had the opportunity to partner with the Serena Williams Foundation and Food for the Poor to build the Salt Marsh Basic School in the parish of Trelawney. HHJF welcomed Serena Williams herself, the #1 ranked women’s tennis player in the world and Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year, as she joined them to help with the build. Also along for the haul were Grammy Award winning artists Shaggy and Sean Paul, Olympic gold medal sprinter Yohan Blake, Olympic Bronze medal sprinter Warren Weir, MLS MVP Dwayne De Rosario and many more. Serena’s contribution, volunteering both her time and energy was an integral part of making the project a huge success. Such highly esteemed individuals such as her are an inspiration to the world that we can create by working together.
The HHJF journey has left a lasting impression on everyone who has had the opportunity to work with them. The culture of their charity is very different than most and is made up of a tight knit community of like minded individuals who hope to keep up the continued growth of the foundation here in Toronto and abroad. Their work in Jamaica has produced very tangible results and throughout the year they are hard at work making arrangements for their next project, organizing events to fundraise money to make them a reality. The tremendous support they have received from organizations like the Jamaican Tourist Board, Olsen Canada, Jones & Jones, Deloitte and Air Jamaica has fueled the fire and determination they need to keep on building.
With every year they gain a new partner and every year someone new comes on board to help with a new project. Their motto, ‘Participate, Educate & Elevate’ speaks volumes to the positive direction in which they are headed to fulfill the needs that never sleep. They are proud of the work they have accomplished, motivated to keep their momentum going strong. For more information and to get involved with the Helping Hands Jamaica Foundation visit helpinghandsjamaica.com. Get involved and donate to help the cause!