Members of JCOBA stand with teachers, parents and some of the Big Brother beneficiaries following the launch ceremony on the school grounds recently.
JAMAICA COLLEGE (JC) old boys have always shown their loyalty and dedication to their alma mater by giving of their time, talent and resources. Indeed, the transformation of JC is purely owing to the love and commitment that the ‘True Blue’ faithful have demonstrated over the years, resulting in the magnificent campus that now sits at 189 Old Hope Road. However, the support of the old boys goes much further than the buildings and the stadium and the well-resourced sports teams that have made JC the envy of all high schools in Jamaica. Indeed, JC old boys have long recognised that one cannot care about the welfare of the college without caring about the welfare of the boys. As a result, the mentorship committee of the Jamaica College Old Boys’ Association (JCOBA) has created an exciting new student-support initiative dubbed the JCOBA Big Brother Programme.
Under this new programme, the old boys can help current students to complete their education at JC by either setting aside a monthly contribution to help a student to attend school each day or making a contribution to a pool of funds set aside to cover monthly allowances in either or all of four categories: daily lunch, bus fare, school uniforms, books.
The Big Brother Programme is the brainchild of JCOBA president Major Basil Jarrett, who got the idea when an old boy called him one Sunday morning to offer to help a student.
“I got a call one morning,” said Jarrett, “from an old boy living overseas who wanted to make a monthly donation to a young man to cover his lunch and bus fares. We spoke for nearly an hour as the old boy recounted how he was only able to come to JC and receive a quality education because a neighbour saw him struggling to come to school and decided to help with bus fare and lunch money.” The old boy said that he never forgot that act of kindness and swore to himself that one day he would return the favour. That call inspired Jarrett to reach out to the family of JC old boys to make a call for similar support.
“The result was overwhelming,” Jarrett said, “as old boys from all over the world immediately felt the value and relevance of the programme. From as small a donation as J$50 to over J$250,000 in some cases, everyone played a part as we turned down no one, regardless of their pledged amount.”
Under the programme, the JCOBA executive sat down with a teacher representative from the school and identified boys who demonstrated the basic core values a JC student should embody: discipline, diligence and potential. Those boys were then matched with big brother donors who had committed to the programme. Although the programme is not based on any scholastic or sporting achievement, supporting old boys are still given a report at the end of each term in order to gauge student progress and to see how their support is making a difference. Under the programme, a total of 50 boys were nominated to receive their support, and, according to Noel Brown, administrator at the JCOBA, every single nominee was accommodated.
“Our president had a mantra that no boy should be left behind,” Brown noted, “and I can’t tell you how elated he was to see that we were able to bring every single one under the programme’s umbrella.”
To be a contributor to the JCOBA Big Brother Programme, old boys, friends, parents and other well-wishers are invited to call the JCOBA office at 876-487-2826 or email the office at firstname.lastname@example.org.