WHEN Olympian Usain Bolt learnt of last week’s Walker’s Place of Safety fire in which two wards were killed and another 34 left homeless at the Lyndhurst Road, Kingston facility he knew he had to help.
The Olympian was speaking Tuesday after handing over a cheque for $1 million to assist the children who suffered losses in the fire.
“… It was no doubt for me that I was going to help in any way. I talked to members of my foundation and they said, listen, this is what we need to do. As the minister said, if we could work together in the future that will be good to stay close and to work together as much as possible to really help in any way and to help the younger kids to have a brighter future,” Bolt said.
The aim of his foundation, Bolt noted, is to improve the life of children who are less fortunate.
“When I was growing up I used to be around a lot of kids that really didn’t have it, and I saw the struggles that they went through. I was fortunate to have both parents who really tried their best and worked hard for me to get a good education, while doing track and field and cricket. They supported me through everything,“ said the sprint icon.
“… We (foundation)… are trying to develop Jamaica in any which way we can help the younger kids to get them better, to get them confident, and to give them a good education,” Bolt said.
CEO of the Child Prevention and Family Services Agency Rosalee Gage-Grey, who expressed her appreciation for the $1-million donation, said she is not surprised by the athlete’s generosity.
“He was quick off the ball and that’s Usain because we have worked with him already in the western belts, and so we know of his support and his love for the children,” Gage-Grey said.
“We have been on a drive for the last year or so to forge partnership, with persons who we believe are able to lend some support, especially to our private homes who over the time have been having financial difficulties,” Gage-Grey said. “The Government provides a subvention which assists, but the needs have become great when we think of improving the level of infrastructure,” she continued.
“We have started to create profile of these facilities and once the profiles are created we will seek to have corporate Jamaica’s sponsorship. An example of that is JIS’s sponsoring the Mount Olivet [home],” Gage-Grey said. She added that a number of people had volunteered at Walker’s Home of Safety weeks before the blaze.
Gage-Grey pointed out that partnerships do not have to be monetary, but that individuals could volunteer their time, as well.
By: Racquel Porter