Sun | May 22, 2022

GoodHeart | Kind Hearts Foundation touches lives

Published:Saturday | May 14, 2022 | 12:07 AMKeisha Hill/Senior Gleaner Writer
From left: Timothy Stewart, Richard Lechler, Jackie Stewart Lechler, Christina Hudson, Amanda Issa, James Stewart Lechler.
From left: Timothy Stewart, Richard Lechler, Jackie Stewart Lechler, Christina Hudson, Amanda Issa, James Stewart Lechler.
Chad Ziadie and Richard Lechler carry building material.
Chad Ziadie and Richard Lechler carry building material.
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The Kind Hearts Foundation was founded in 2010 as the youth arm of the Richard and Diana Stewart Foundation, focusing on the community housing and educational needs for underprivileged families in Jamaica.

Their objective is to give back to the country, not only by donations but with physical labour, so that they can help to touch the lives of their fellow citizens. “My mother, Diana Stewart, thought it would create a lasting family bond if her grandchildren worked together with the less fortunate, not only through financial donations but by physical work, which was the genesis for our first project with Homes of Hope to build compassion homes, which pre-dated the start of the foundation,” said Jacqueline Stewart Lechler, director of the foundation.

For the past 12 years, the Kind Hearts Foundation has exceeded its mandate, and has provided homes for needy families in St James. The foundation has also built several basic schools across five parishes, and has provided numerous academic scholarships for underprivileged youth, and children of Stewart’s Automotive Group staff members.

“Education is key to making choices and decisions that will help to better our circumstances. Imagine the exponential benefits each year with seven basic schools introducing children to education in a positive environment. It is very inspiring to see the dedication of the teachers and the talent of the students. It is also rewarding to know that the children and their families will access education in cleaner, more orderly surroundings,” Stewart Lechler said.

The Kind Hearts Foundation actively works with the Early Childhood Commission to ensure that these schools meet its standards.

In 2019, the foundation built a 3,600 square feet Ward 7 facility at the Spanish Town Hospital and in 2020, contributed $5 million to the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica’s Ventilator initiative. They were also contributors to the COVID-19 field hospital built recently at the University Hospital of the West Indies.

“When projects are rolled out, once we believe it is a great need to the nation, regardless of the other commitments we may already have, we always come out in support. The ventilator initiative was one such where, when COVID started, as a country we were concerned about the unknown. We knew we had to have ventilators to ensure that we could keep people alive until they could recover,” Stewart Lechler said.

“We also contributed to the field hospital. We were one of the private donors that partnered with the Government on that project to ensure that when people have to be hospitalised, there is somewhere for them to be placed so that they can be properly cared for,” she added.

The foundation also has plans advanced to build a maternity ward at the Port Antonio Hospital in Portland. “We were asked to renovate the nurse’s station at the hospital. It was during this time of getting the stations up to par, that we realised that the maternity wards were overcrowded. We contacted Food for the Poor, and made all our submissions to the Ministry of Health. We are currently awaiting the budget and we are keeping our fingers crossed that everything will run smoothly,” Stewart Lechler said.

The Kind Hearts Foundation generally collaborates with Food for The Poor on most of its projects. Once the needs are ascertained, and the budget finalised, the funds are then identified, with the necessary approvals.

One of Kind Hearts’ biggest fundraising initiatives is the Colour Me Happy Charity Run. The charity normally makes up to US$40,000, however, for the 2023 staging, Stewart Lechler is hoping that they can increase that figure to US$60,000.

“This event is meaningful to us, so let’s put September 2023 on our calendars. I know with Jamaica’s support we can do it,” Stewart Lechler said.

For more information on the Kind Hearts Foundation, and how you can participate in the Colour Me Happy Charity Run, you can visit its social media pages on Instagram @kindheartsjamaica

keisha.hill@gleanerjm.com