Ottawa’s Centretown-based Jamaican community association has reason to celebrate after three of its volunteers were recognized by United Way Ottawa for their work.
The award-winning trio supports the work of the Jamaican Ottawa Community Association, which meets monthly at the Bronson Centre.
“It’s a great honour for me,” says Donette Grant-Anderson, one of the three recipients of a Community Builder award from the city’s main charitable organization.
Grant-Anderson has volunteered with a number of organizations, including United Way, Jamaica Diaspora Canada Foundation, Junior Achievement Canada, as well as JOCA.
Besides her volunteer work, Grant-Anderson is also mortgage broker and a mother. She was born in Jamaic, and came to Canada in 1992.
The two other JOCA volunteers recognized by the United Way are Mylcha Kerr-Faucher and musician and radio personality Lennox Puckerin.
The three JOCA recipients were joined by a fourth recipient, Ottawa business owner and philanthropist Daniel Greenberg, who is being recognized for his volunteer work and financial contributions to numerous Ottawa charities..
The four are the first to be formally recognized by the United Way this year, but the organization usually aims to give out about 50 of the awards annually, according to president Michael Allan.
“All communities have a tremendous volunteer component to their community life. I believe we have gone a step beyond in recognizing it,” Allan says.
Those named community builders must be nominated by someone else. Allan says this may be the reason so many of JOCA’s volunteers received the award this year. “We believe that the Jamaican community has recognized the value of celebrating those (volunteers) in their community,” he says.
The organization works to connect Jamaicans in Ottawa with their Jamaican homeland, as well as build connections with other organizations, says president Joanne Robinson.
She says the association is lucky to have so many of its volunteers recognized this year and in years past.
Robinson says all three of this year’s community builders have been big assets for JOCA. Grant-Anderson served as first vice-president on the association’s board until last year, and planned the group’s annual Jamaica Day celebrations several times.
Robinson describes Puckerin as “a true volunteer because he says, ‘Where do you need me?’” She says he donates some of his time each year.
Kerr-Faucher has valuable knowledge, adds Robinson since “she’s been with the association, I don’t even know how long.” She was “instrumental” in setting up JOCA’s heroes award gala, according to Robinson.
The gala is one of the association’s annual events, celebrating Jamaicans and local community members who have made outstanding contributions to either community.
Those who receive the Community Builders award have their names inscribed on the Wall of Inspiration at Ottawa’s city hall. In addition, they are honoured at an annual gala, which will be taking place this year on May 29 at the Ottawa Convention Centre.