Fri | Dec 14, 2018

Empowering the Next Generation through COJO

Published:Friday | December 7, 2018 | 12:00 AMLatara Boodie/Gleaner Writer
UTech third-year student and 2018 COJO Scholarship recipient, Adrianna Parchment, receives her award from Chairman and Founder, Gary Williams.
From left: Phillip Feurtado, VP Feurtado Shipping; Paul Salmon, chairman of Rockhouse Hotel in Negril, Jamaica and Gopal Burgher, founder, Capital Markets.
Gary Williams (centre) embraces long-standing contributors and dear friends Leslie Hall (left) and Michael Hall.
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Last Saturday, the Hilton JFK hosted the highly anticipated COJO 24th Annual Scholarship Gala and Awards, inside their Victorian inspired executive ballroom. Numerous supporters attended the festive winter soiree, dressed in the elegant ball gowns and immaculately cut suits.

The black tie function featured a swanky cocktail hour and banquet, where awardees, partners, executive members and supporters mingled and dined on Jamaican jerk chicken and their spirit of choice. The theme, 'Empowering the Next Generation ... Investing in Education,' was the topic of choice among those in attendance.

 

MAKING A DIFFERENCE

 

The Children of Jamaica Outreach Inc (COJO) is one of the leading outreach programmes within the Jamaican Diaspora, dedicated to making a difference in the lives of underprivileged children in Jamaica. For more than a decade, the organisation's funding derived from an annual fundraising ball in New York, and has benefited such Jamaican institutions as the Alpha Boys' Home, the Glenhope Place of Safety (for girls) and the Young Men's Christian Association.

"When we transform the lives of children in need, we guarantee a better future for the whole world," said founder of COJO, Gary Williams. After years of participating in one-off missions to help needy children in his native Jamaica, Williams decided he could do better and wanted to do more. With his mission of helping improve the health, education and general well-being of under-served children in Jamaica, COJO was established in 1994.

"All parents want the best for their children and as Jamaica's Minister of Education, Youth and Information, I am committed to helping children reach their full potential," said Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Ruel Reid. "For many years, the COJO has been engaged in the crucial work of breaking down barriers to opportunity by making important investments in health and education. The organisation has united people in their desire to increase the opportunities of deserving children," he continued. By working to make education accessible to all, Reid praised the esteemed organisation for its continuous work in developing the skills of the underprivileged youth and shaping Jamaica's future.

Four awards were given this year to outstanding individuals and their contribution towards the Jamaican youth through COJO. The awardees were: Gopal M Burger, founder/managing partner of the Capital Markets and Finance practice group of BurgherGray LLP; Dr Michael A. Wiltshire, principal of Medgar Evers College Preparatory School; Paul Salmon, chairman of the Rockhouse and Skylark Hotel in Negril and Phillip Feurtado, vice president and CEO of Feurtado Shipping.

Williams expressed heartfelt appreciation for their contribution towards his mission.

Persons dined on signature meals created by the hotel, which included Teriyaki Salmon served with Lemon Grass Chicken Breast in Brown Sauce, and a hearty slice of cheesecake for dessert. During the dinner, singer-songwriter Chevaughn used his lyrical prowess with ageless excellence. His velvety smooth tenor radiated through the room as he switched from an acoustic gospel selection to his 2009 breakthrough chart-topping song, Holiday (recorded with Ding Dong). Persons sashayed towards the dance floor, as Jamaican band, Tropical Rhythms, played nostalgic sweet reggae music.

It was clear, at the end of the grand affair, COJO's 24th annual scholarship Gala and Awards was indeed a success.

latara.boodie@gleanerjm.com