Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) refers to the practice of engaging in initiatives that benefit the society in the process of doing business. Businesses that are socially responsible want to make a profit for shareholders and to be successful, but they also want to leave a positive footprint as they journey across a broken social landscape.
We got a taste of this behavior as Jamaican diasporans as we headed back home in June 2019 to the 8th Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference convened by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade. The conference ended with a Diaspora Day of Service where more than 40 projects were carried out by across the island by Jamaican diasporans who wended their way back home for the event. Along with other members of the diaspora, Jalawelo engaged in one of these community projects in Dela Vega City, Spanish Town. Led by Donna Gabbadon (Jalawelo), an energized and fun-loving diaspora team worked across four time zones prior to the conference to plan the details for the execution of the Dela Vega City Day of Service project. The team included Akelia Lawrence-Maitland (Advisory Board Member, Jamaica Diaspora Organization - Northeast); Alvarine Bennett (Dela Vega City Benevolent Society); Rodney Panton (Dela Vega City Youth Foundation); and Diana Harrison (Jalawelo).
Though the Diaspora Day of Service was designed as a one-day event, we extended our project initiative and spent two days in Dela Vega City. Three amazing corporate sponsors contributed to the success of our efforts in this community. Hardware and Lumber came alongside us to ensure that we were able to work with the community to beautify the park.
A team of passionate young men from Dela Vega eagerly prepared the space prior to the Day of Service, and on the actual day we planted two lignum vitae trees and grass seeds with the assistance of the children from a local basic school. Diaspora members eagerly jumped in to lend a hand to move the project forward. We had all the tools and supplies that were needed to complete the project because of the very generous support provided by Hardware and Lumber. Since then, benches have been added to the park, the gate has been repaired, and plans have been put in place for the ongoing maintenance of the space.
Beyond the development of the park, diaspora members and residents did a community walkthrough and enjoyed a special lunch and an engaging stakeholder meeting. Best Dressed Chicken provided super generous quantities of chicken for a sumptuous fare and Wisynco provided all the beverages we needed for everyone involved on both service days. These sponsors had us covered and we take none of this for granted.
We are particularly grateful for this support because our service project is just the beginning of a longer-term initiative to collaborate with other organizations, both local and diaspora, to have a sustainable impact on Dela Vega City. Our sponsors are now a part of what is just the beginning of a truly amazing journey in Dela Vega City.
We held a stakeholder meeting on the second service day. It was very well attended by residents, elected officials, pastors, educators, and other key community and corporate stakeholders. The residents readily shared about their dreams for their community, and this information was noted and is now being incorporated into plans for future development in Dela Vega.
Jalawelo has been engaged in this community for more than four years, and this year we were supremely grateful to have the privilege of working alongside other diaspora members for two days for this very special Diaspora Day of Service project.
We plan to remain passionately engaged in Dela Vega, and we are excited about the ongoing reports that an amazing group of young men have continued to nurture and care for the park since we left so that it is becoming a special space for residents to relax and interact with each other.
There is excitement and buzz in this community. The leaders, residents, and a growing and passionate group of Dela Vegans in the diaspora are already engaged in the process of community transformation. We are excited to join them of that journey and we are grateful for our corporate sponsors who helped to make this a reality!
Dela Vega City, Spanish Town, is, indeed, a Community of Special Promise. :)