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Charity stages golf event to fund feeding programme in schools

Published:Thursday | July 1, 2021 | 12:10 AMCecelia Campbell-Livingston/Gleaner Writer
Conrad Gouldbourne, president of Jamaica YES.
Conrad Gouldbourne, president of Jamaica YES.

Jamaica Youth Education Support (Jamaica YES) will be hosting its first benefit golf tournament on Saturday, July 17, to raise funds to continue breakfast- and-lunch-feeding programmes for schoolchildren in rural Jamaica.

The 2021 Changing Children’s Lives Golf Tournament will be held at the award-winning Coyote Ridge Golf Club near Dallas, Texas. An online auction offering a wide variety of items will also be available to anyone who cannot attend the tournament, but who would like to support the work of Jamaica YES.

Conrad Goulbourne, president of Jamaica YES, said the idea for the outreach came from Dawn Renwick, a teacher at the St Theresa Basic School in St Mary, who shared with him that the greatest need of her students was not books or supplies, but food.

“The students are coming to school hungry,” Gouldbourne said Renwick informed him.

“After returning to the US, she emailed her close friends to brainstorm options to help ... this led to the formation of the US-based 501 (c) 3 charity… Jamaica YES,” he shared with The Gleaner.

‘Country boy’

Goulbourne, who calls himself a “a country boy from the hills of Jamaica”, hails from the Bartons community – six miles from Old Harbour. The St Jago High School alumnus said he could relate to the plight of rural children in Jamaica and their struggles, having himself had to leave home early in the morning and taking multiple buses in order to make it to school on time.

“I migrated to the United States at the age of 16, right after I left fifth form. For me, Jamaica YES provides a great opportunity to give back and help these students, knowing the experience and challenges of country life. Even though we are a small organisation, we are having a huge impact on the kids we support,” he stated.

Jamaica YES is dedicated to providing nutritious meals to students who are attending school on an empty stomach. The organisation currently has programmes in eight schools and impacts over 400 basic- and primary-school children. The charity’s head said principals and teachers have shared that since the programme started, students have demonstrated improved test scores, as well as improved attendance and a reduction in behavioural issues.

With COVID-related lockdowns, coupled with severe limitations on school attendance, there was a significant disruption to students receiving what was often their only meal of the day.

To combat that, Jamaica YES worked with the principals and their staff to create the Emergency Food Assistance Programme. Utilising funds previously earmarked for the school meal programmes, school administrators purchased various basic food items in bulk, repackaged the groceries into smaller parcels and either delivered them to students’ households or notified parents they were available for pickup. This resulted in over 600 Emergency Food Assistance packages reaching the homes of students most in need.

Founded in 2004 by Jamaican friends living in the Dallas area, Jamaica YES remains 100 per cent volunteer-operated and donates 100 per cent of all monies collected to support underserved schoolchildren in Jamaica. With so many of Jamaica YES’s fundraisers being cancelled last year due to the pandemic, the upcoming golf tournament and online auction will determine how many children they will be able to feed in the next school year.

To participate in the online auction or to make a donation to support Jamaica YES programmes that benefit Jamaican children, visit and click on ‘2021 Changing Children’s Lives Golf Tournament’.