Friday, December 16, 2016

Addressing long term truancy among children in Western Jamaica

Gloria Meredith
Poor attendance at school, a serious problem in Western Jamaica, came to the attention of Mrs. Gloria Meredith, founder and CEO of Children of Faith. When she visited and held corner meetings in the district of Chester Castle, in the parish of Hanover, where truancy was acute, her first observation was that nearly all the young women were holding babies on their hips. Was there a connection between this and poor school attendance? Subsequently, she partnered with UNICEF in a programme to address the truancy problem. Its success indicates that this programme is one which should be replicated in other parts of Jamaica. Not only did this programme reduce truancy, but it has the potential to break the cycle of poverty. As such, its implementation in other communities would be a cost-efficient method of tackling an otherwise intractable problem.
The problem was identified as follows:
  • A baseline profile of school attendance for children in selected schools in Western communities conducted by UNICEF in 2014 reported that the level of daily absenteeism for these schools was equivalent to up to 36% of the total enrolment.  
  • Region 4 of the Ministry of Education records an average 73.6% of attendance among students - - one of the lowest averages on the island.  
  • The report notes that the average days absent per student is 70 days per school year.
  • 47% of children reported that they were absent because they were sick. (It was later discovered that many of them suffered from asthma, exacerbated by poor nutrition, and emotional and psychological problems).
  • 30% of children could not find the money to go to school or to buy supplies they needed to attend school
  • Additionally, some residents pointed to the contribution of poor parenting practices as part of the challenge of school attendance. 
  •  A significant number of adolescents are dropping out of school due to
  • o   pregnancy, (some of these pregnancies were the outcomes of girls seeking financial and emotional support);
    o   involvement in illegal activity;
    o   not attending school long enough to graduate or to further their education.
Objectives of this project
  • Increase school attendance/skills of 300 children and adolescents.
  •  Build resilience of children/adolescents.
  •  Support families psychologically, socially, financially, (Income Generating Activities -  IGA) environmentally.

Intervention to increase school attendance
  •   Before intervention data showed that the children referred were absent  80.9%  from school that is 4-5 days per week.
  •  Only 19. 1% were absent for 1-3 days per week.
Intervention in four (4)schools
  •   COF presently implements interventions at the school, community and individual levels in Chester Castle, Mount Ward and Mt. Peto in Hanover and Bethel Town in Westmoreland.  
  • COF has reached 80 parents caring for 248 children and young adults.
Strategies that are used:
Counseling for children and families at school and in their homes.
        Support group for parents, children, and young adults.
Community Health Fair at
Mt Ward Primary School

        Corner meetings in the communities.
        Parenting skills and money-management
        Income generating project

        Community Fairs
        Children referred to the program are seen once per week by a trained counselor for an hour.
        Support group meetings for young adults are held weekly.
        Parenting community support group meetings are also held once per week.

Parenting community support groups
Parenting community support group members are the parents:
         of children whose school attendance was low, interested parents who want to see all children attending school and parents in the community who could offer assistance.
        The support groups plan and execute fund raising activities to help address some of the money related challenges to attendance. 

        There are currently two active young adult support groups with approximately 45 young adults participating in the communities of Mt. Peto and Chester Castle
Schools and Parents are important partners
        The schools are critical to the programme.  Through them we have access and we work together for the good of the children
        Mt. Ward parenting community support group, with the support of the Mt Ward Primary School operate and manage a school garden.  They have received support from the Rural Agricultural Development Association.
        Money derived from the farm is spent on school uniforms, books and other necessities for their children.
         The Mt Ward parents group also staged a Fish Fry to raise additional funds for students who need help.
Fish Fry fundraiser

The Bethel Town parenting group, also very active, raised money to assist needy students.  
Income generating Activities  (Participants are assessed for readiness. They are taught basic accounting and are required to join a Credit Union.)
Individual households receive assistance to generate income – sale of household chemicals, chicken rearing and farming.
UNICEF Ambassador,Danny Glover, inspecting
a chicken coop.

        We have found that household chemicals cost the least but sells fast.
        Chicken rearing - 25-50 baby chicken broiler crumb and layers.
        Farming – focus on quick crop (vegetables)
        11 families received baby chicks, broiler crumb feeder and waterer.
        10 household chemicals
        1  received layers
        1 Farming
        Community fairs are our main platform for partnerships
        Parents and caregivers,  NGOs , and Governmental agencies at community health fair where the parents are given more information, register for birth certificates, PATH programme, get information about their farming, chicken etc.
        Children seen by doctors and counsellors.

Key Achievements
        Since the intervention eighty seven  point five percent (87.5%) of the children referred attend school 4-5 days per week.
        Approximately 177  of our children were assisted with all or some back to school supplies including - uniforms,  shoes, text and note books, shoes and other necessities
        Birth certificates issued (after receiving the birth certificate one was able to sit his GSAT and now is now able attend a high school)
        7 parenting workshops and 7 Money management
        2 parenting community support groups successfully established and members are very active.
        9 young adults (17-19 years) are entering into skills training.
        3 young adults presently in training  2 in the area of food and nutrition and one in construction at a HEART registered institution
        15 young adults at Knocklava
Lessons learned
        Community norms – For some community members education comes at the cost of survival.  These communities need support, especially if this way of thinking is to change for the children.
     In order to sustain this support – we need the involvement of other entities including the Ministry of Local Government and Social Security, Child Development Agency, private sector, the churches, etc.
Mrs. Gloria Meredith presented the achievements and challenges of this programme at a Stakeholders Workshop, chaired by Dr. Sheila Campbell-Forester, on Wednesday, December 7, 2016, at the Grandiosa Hotel in Montego Bay. Ms. Lone Hvass – Deputy representative, UNICEF; Dr. David Stair – Custos of Hanover; Judge Rosalie Toby – Board Member, COF; and Jeanne Foster-Robinson – Good Shepherd Foundation brought greetings from their respective organizations.
At head table, (l to r) Mrs. Jeanne Foster-Robinson, Judge Rosalie Toby,
Dr, David Stair, Mrs. Gloria Meredith, Ms. Lone Hvass, Dr. Sheila Campbell-Forester.

Following the presentation and the Q and A session, UNICEF showed a touching documentary featuring Roshane Thomas, one of the children in the programme. Because his mother began to sell household chemicals, she was able to send him to school. Because of  RGD’s presence at Community Health Fairs, he got his birth certificate and was able to enter GSAT. Because of his own hard work and determination, he passed GSAT for Cambridge High School. Roshane came to the podium where he told us more about himself, answered questions and thanked COF and UNICEF for their help. You can see the video on youtube.

Mr. Victor Wong presenting
a certificate

Mrs. Grant Smith

The second objective of the workshop was to recognize outstanding leadership and performance among children and adolescents in the programme. In attendance were children, parents and teachers from the communities involved in the programme.  Victor Wong, Board Member, COF, presented certificates to children for being most punctual, most improved, most perseverant, best attendance and other categories. Mrs. Grant Smith, Principal  of Chester Castle All Age School, thanked UNICEF and COF for involving her school in the programme. One result, she pointed out, is that parents are becoming more a part of the school. A parent, on behalf of the Mount Ward parenting support group, also expressed thanks for the programme. After the presentations, we all enjoyed a sumptuous lunch prepared and served by the dedicated staff of the Grandiosa Hotel.

Participants at the workshop at the Grandiosa Hotel









Saturday, August 20, 2016

Do you believe in Global Warming?

Wigton Wind Farm, Jamaica
Stephen Hawking, one of the most brilliant physicists of our age, on his 70th birthday, warned that the greatest threat to the future of the planet is global warming, (but journalists were more interested in what he thought about Donald Trump). Most people understand what is meant by the ‘greenhouse effect’ – carbon dioxide (CO2) forms a layer around the earth that prevents the heat of the sun from escaping, in the same way as glass in a greenhouse. What is not so well understood is that the hotter it gets, more and more water evaporates and the water vapour itself acts as a greenhouse gas, multiplying the effect of the carbon dioxide. This is an example of positive feedback, (like having a microphone too near a speaker box) which will result in further increases in temperature causing more water to evaporate, hence more greenhouse effect.
Prof Stephen Hawking
Photo © Jaime Travezan
At the present time, the only way this can be prevented is to cut down on emissions of CO2, primarily by stopping the generation of electricity from the use of fossil fuels.  If the emissions of CO2 are not cut down, we will reach a tipping point, where nothing more can be done. Global warming will be irreversible.
     The reason I gave this post the title ‘Do you believe in Global Warming?’ is because many people, including those in positions of power and influence, deny that it is happening, in spite of all the evidence – melting polar ice-caps, higher than average temperatures every year, record temperatures being recorded. This is not the first time that those in authority have refused to believe scientists. In 1634, Galileo was condemned to house arrest for the heresy of believing that the earth was not the centre of the universe, and that the earth revolves around the sun. This happened a long time ago and would be thought of as ridiculous today. Unfortunately, we don’t have the luxury of time to convince the world about the causes of global warming. 
Professor Anthony Chen

 Jamaica’s own Professor The Hon. Anthony Chen, OM, an Atmospheric Physicist at UWI, was a member of the Team which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for efforts made to increase and disseminate greater knowledge of man-made climate change and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change. How many Jamaicans know of his work or of this award? I hope the present government will have the sense to consult him.
In an article in the Sunday Gleaner on August 14, 2016, "Betting Against Coal" he addressed the question of energy generation in Jamaica.
     In relation to proposed coal fired generation and alumina smelting he said: While there will be immediate gains for the owners, in particular, and for the country, the extent to which is still not clear, the losses in the long run will cancel these gains. This statement must be considered in the light of climate change. Further on in the article he noted: China is to shut down 4,300 old coal mines and ban new coal mines for the next three years, and it has placed a ban on new coal-fired plants in areas where there is excess electricity generation. Don’t we live on the same planet as the Chinese? Even if they want to blame Jamaica for producing the CO2, it will still have the same effect. Contrary to popular belief, Jamaica’s greenhouse gas emission (GHG) is not insignificant.
     Professor Chen also pointed to the possibility of a carbon tax: If the new US EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) rule will effectively ban the construction of new coal-fired power plants because the CO2 emission rates required of fossil plants are so strenuous that no conventional coal plant could meet them; the state of Oregon has become the first U.S, state to ban coal plants; UK coal plants are to be phased out in 10 years.
The World Bank head has warned against new coal plants. In this scenario where there is a ban on coal, the owners of the Alpart plant would be in a tight situation since coal, if it is available, will likely be expensive because of mechanisms put in place to restrict its use, such as a tax on carbon, and the project may well be abandoned.

A wild fire in California

If the world decides to wait to see what happens, the decision to get rid of fossil fuels would probably take place around 2040 to 2050, when climate-change disasters become so severe that the world will see that it has to get rid of fossil fuel. These disasters could take the form of extreme drought and floods, heat waves killing thousands, unstoppable wildfires, severe storms, accelerated sea-level rise, food and water shortage, and acidification of the seas.
In this scenario, Jamaica will be spending billions on combating the impacts of the disasters which will continue well beyond 2040 to 2050, again because of the lag between emission of CO2 and additional warming. Our losses, because of the billions of dollars spent to fight the disaster, will be more than what we have gained from the operation of the coal plant.
CARIBSAVE, for example, put the estimated cost of sea-level rise to CARICOM countries at between US$30 billion and US$60 billion by 2050.
Professor Chen suggested, that instead of building a coal-fired plant, we should become pioneers in the development of renewable energy, from sun, wind, waves and hydropower, with a mix of large-scale plants, and small-scale generation at homes and business places. As he says, Solar and wind take up space, but consider that the amount of solar radiation falling on one-thousandth of the area of Jamaica is sufficient to provide all our electricity demand, assuming a conversion efficient of 20 per cent. Consider also other sources of renewable energy that are more persistent, such as offshore wind farms and wave energy.
Solar panels on a roof

The ultimate benefit of having renewable energy as 100 per cent of our energy source is that we will no longer depend on imported energy resources such as oil and coal.  Our energy fuel, such as wind and solar, will be free, and we will have energy security and independence. As pioneers, we can attract funding from sources like the Green Climate Fund or the World Bank. But it should be clear that we cannot profess to be pioneers in the field of renewables if we have a 1,000MW coal plant belching out toxic material; no funding agent would consider us to be serious.
He discussed the problem of storage of electricity, which is at present challenging, but much research is being done, with new technologies coming on stream.
He suggested how we can become these pioneers:

1. We should be leading the charge at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on behalf of island states. We should negotiate a UNFCCC-sponsored meeting of the leading world experts on storage of energy and renewable energy to determine the future prospects in energy storage and renewable energy which are best for island states, and have UNFCCC set up bodies to seek funding for research and development in these areas.

2. We should do more to encourage the use of renewable energy in homes and business places.

Wind Turbines at Ultimate Jerk Centre, Discovery Bay
They also have solar panels.
3. We should seek funds for pilot projects on utility-scale storage. We could start small like just having enough storage for frequency regulation and  ramp up when electricity supply fluctuates. With enough experience and pioneer status, we could seek funding for more ambitious projects like utility storage for peak usages in the evening.
     My own suggestion is that the National Water Commission should install solar panels to supply electricity to pump water to customers and storage tanks during the day. The water in the storage tanks could then flow by gravity to supply customers during the night.
     On a final note, the UNFCCC is doing its work. It is now the responsibility of governments to educate their populations on the dangers of global warming and what we can all do to mitigate it.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Summer Reading for 8-12 year-olds

 Summer holidays have come round again with parents wondering what would be the most useful way for children to spend the time. I strongly recommend that they should read for pleasure, as this has been shown to improve performance, not only in reading, but also in math. See my blog post of July 2012 SummerReading - Some Surprising Findings 
The challenge in Jamaica is to select appropriate titles, other than Enid Blyton books, Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys. I have already written blog posts with lists of books, namely Books by JamaicanAuthors, Books from Africa and 1000 Black Girl Books. For books by other Caribbean authors see Anansesem online bookstore.
Here now, in alphabetical order of authors, is a list of 30 books for girls from a list of over 200 chosen by students at   Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) Edgecomb, Maine. (I started with girls’ books after I was dismayed by the 3 ‘literature’ books, which included Steinbeck's 'Of Mice and Men', listed on a high school booklist.) However, boys like many of these books, too. All books are available on Amazon. Most of the authors have written several books - check them out.
L stands for lexile – a measure of ease of reading – the lower the lexile, the easier the book.

1 Agell, Charlotte    Welcome Home or Someplace Like It 
2 Bowler, Tim    Storm Catchers L560 A scary book set in the UK, liked by boys also.
3 Brashares, Ann    The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants trilogy
4 Carman, Patrick  Thirteen Days to Midnight L760
5 Choldenko, Gennifer   Al Capone Does My Shirts L600 Set in the notorious prison, Alcatraz, where the protagonist's father worked.
6 Colfer, Chris    Land of Stories Refers to familiar fairy tales. 
7 Creech, Sharon    Walk Two Moons L770 13-year-old girl searches for truth about her missing mother.
8 Funke, Cornelia    Inkheart L780 The characters come out of the pages of a book.
9 Giff, Patricia Reilly    Wild Girl L640 A horse story from Brazil to New York.
10 Grimes, Nikki    The Road to Paris L700  Paris is the name of the brown girl protagonist in a white foster home.
11 Hale, Dean    Calamity Jack L560 Sci Fi, Fantasy, Fairy Tales and Folklore.
12 Hale, Shannon  Princess Academy Girls from a mountain village prepare for a prince to choose one of them as his bride. Surprising twist at the end. 
13 Hiassen, Carl    Flush and Hoot Fast-paced detective stories related to environmental breaches in Florida.
14 Hobbs, Will    Jackie's Wild Seattle L660 Adventure related to wild-life rescue. 
15 Holm, Jennifer    Turtle in Paradise L610 Set in the Great Depression, Turtle (11-year-old girl) is sent to live with relatives in Florida.

16 Hunt, Lynda Mullaly    Fish in a Tree L550 A story about dyslexia
17 Lord, Cynthia    Rules The challenges of living with a brother with autism.
18 Lowry, Lois    Number the Stars L670 Smuggling Jews out of 1940's Denmark.
19 Magoon, Kekla    The Rock and the River About the Civil Rights Movement.
20 Myers, Walter Dean   Monster a teenage boy in juvenile detention and on trial.
21 O'Dell, Scott    Island of the Blue Dolphins Survival story of a girl alone on a deserted island.
22 Park, Linda Sue    A Long Walk to Water Set in the Sudan, with references to The Lost Boys of Sudan
23 Patterson, Katherine    Lyddie A story of personal determination and growth, set in textile mills in USA
24 Riordan, Rick    The Lightning Thief  L470 Fantasy related to Greek Mythology. There is also a graphic (comic-style) version.
25 Ryan, Pam Munoz Esperanza Rising L750 A riches to rags story.
26 Sachar, Louis    Holes L660 Stanley wrongly sent to a boys' detention centre and unravels a mystery.
27 Watkins, Yoko Kawashima    So Far from the Bamboo Grove About a Japanese family escaping from Korea at the end of WW2
28 Woodson, Jacqueline    Feathers L710 takes readers on a journey into a young girl’s heart and reveals the pain and the joy of learning to look beneath the surface.
29 Yousafzai, Malala    I Am Malala Story of Pakistani girl who survived the attempt to murder her because she wanted an education.
30 Zhang, Kat    What's Left of Me Fantasy - people are normally born with 2 souls, 1 of which dies. What happens when both survive?

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Launch of Ellen Pearl Outreach Children’s Charity (EPOCC)

A children’s charity with a difference was launched on Friday, May 27, 2016 at the UWI Western Campus. The Ellen Pearl Outreach will be the medium through which children in need of help can telephone a trained counsellor to talk about their problems. At the launch, its founder, Mrs. Beverley Chung spoke about its inception, and Dr. Pearnel Bell told us how it will work in Jamaica. Stakeholder groups brought greetings and children entertained with song and poetry. The keynote address was given by Juliet Holness, MP for St Andrew East Rural, graciously standing in at short notice for The Hon. Marlene Malahoo Forte Q.C., MP, who was indisposed.
     After delivering her opening remarks, Joy Crooks, Nurse Administrator at CUMI invited Rev. Lenworth N Anglin to lead us in prayer, followed by greetings from stakeholder groups.
     Mrs. Gage-Grey of the Child Development Agency (CDA) welcomed the contribution that this charity offers. 10 in every 1000 children are in need of intervention, meaning 8000 children for their population in Jamaica. The CDA is on a mission to protect children and looks out for ways of getting involved in the national conversation. We need to see each child as our own. CDA endorses EPOCC and looks forward to a meaningful partnership.
     Dr  Claudette Crawford-Brown, Lecturer in the Dept. of Social Work at UWI brought greetings from that institution, and from  Jamaica Association for Social Workers, and from other organizations she represents. After 40 years in child advocacy, she recognizes that the social status of the child is in a lot of trouble.   I wrote in my notes that 100 children were murdered in 2015. (I hope I made a mistake and that that isn’t true.) Only one child was murdered in 1993. Sexual abuse is increasing at an alarming rate. 700 children went missing. People are crying out for solutions, but the link between the micro-level and solutions is missing. This programme could pave the way to macro-level solutions.
     Mrs. Debbian Livingstone Edwards brought greetings from the Office of the Children’s Advocate, (OCA). She also welcomed the programme because children require free and ready access. There is a gap in the availability of psychosocial services, and there is a need for sustained counselling.  She reminded us that it is our civic duty to protect the rights of children.
     Greetings from FLOW/Lime Foundations was to have been brought by Mrs. Shellian O’Connor, who was unavailable because of illness, but she assured EPOCC of their commitment.
     Corinaldi Avenue Primary School choir treated us to an emotional rendition of their song; and Mount Alvernia High School’s Susanna Hyde, Child Ambassador for the OCR for Region 4, performed a poem about a boy accused of stealing. I wasn’t sure if he was guilty or not, but Susanna’s enactment made us feel his fear and sense of isolation.
      We saw Ms. Ottoa Wilson busy videotaping the launch, and were then introduced to her work – a short video about child abuse in Jamaica, and her paintings and drawings displayed around the room. 
  Mrs. Beverley Chung, who was born in Catadupa, St James, but left Jamaica when she was nearly 9, took us on her journey to the founding of EPOCC. She keeps in touch with Jamaica and is distressed about what is happening. She wrote a poem entitled Jamaica Weeps, Jamaica Bleeds. Inspired by a visit to Bridge of Hope Charity in Uganda, her question “Why don’t they do something?” became “Why don’t I do something?” She knew that she herself had the skills to run a charity, inherited from her grandmother, Ellen, and he mother, Pearl, who both started churches and for whom EPOCC is named. She also had experience of working with Childline in the UK.  She shared her vision with Dr. Pearnel Bell and Nurse Joy Crooks, who both said, “We need to listen to children”.  A further impetus came from Sir Patrick Allen, Governor General of Jamaica’s address to the 6th Biennial Diaspora Conference (June 2015), in which he encouraged support for community projects that would positively impact the lives of children. Hence EPOCC was born.

EPOCC’s vision is to improve the lives of children.
 Mission -Initial Aims:
  • To provide a national free 24hr helpline service manned by fully trained counsellors
  • email and Web-chat counselling service for children on any problem whatsoever
  • Register of services with appropriate referrals
Long-Term Aims:

  • Visit to schools, youth clubs/centres and churches to inform on abuse awareness and to empower children to say 'no' and/or to report abuse
  • Transitional opportunities and mentoring post 18 years for children that have been in care
  • Further educational opportunities for disadvantaged youths


In the UK: Beverley Chung, Roger Panton, Jacqueline Longmore, Mrs. Cecelia Ellis (UK Treasurer), Mrs Emma Barton (Fundraiser).

In Jamaica: Joy Crooks (Secretary), Dr. Pearnel Bell, Hopeton Ridgard – Board Member for Finance; employed at JMMB; works in youth ministry.

Mrs. Chung had consultations with Esther Rantzen, who started Childline in the UK. Subsequently,

On Oct 12, 2015, EPOCC was launched in the UK.

From Oct ’15 to Jan’16, the organizational structure was worked out.

From June to September 2016, the training of volunteers will take place.

How you can help: sponsorship, advocacy, fund-raising and volunteering. Together we  can change the future of our children.

Dr. Pearnel Bell then spoke about Jamaica Childline. There was a helpline in Jamaica before, but it only lasted 7 years because of lack of support. It is needed more than  ever now with mental health problems escalating. The incidence of untreated mental health problems becomes a public health problem.
          They are actively recruiting volunteers, and 60 persons have applied so far. They will be given 40 hours of training. An international trainer will train the trainers in Jamaica. The government agencies: OCR; CDA and OCA will be present at the training.
          A SWOT analysis was performed:
Strengths – Trustees in UK and Jamaica. Aggressive fund-raising’

Weaknesses – lack of support from stakeholders; keeping in touch with stakeholders.

Opportunities – for sponsorship and to achieve.

Threats -  lack of support from stakeholders; naysayers; financial sustainability; numbers of volunteers.          

However, with 3 universities and 1 college on board, it is hoped that EPOCC will prevail.
Mrs. Juliet Holness in conversation with Dr. Pearnel Bell
“If we don’t stand up for our children, we stand for nothing,” said the dynamic Kimone Clarke, a social worker, in introducing The Guest Speaker, Mrs. Juliet Holness, MP for St Andrew East Rural, and wife of Prime Minister, Mr. Andrew Holness. Ms. Clarke piled on ‘special’ after ‘special’ in describing Mrs. Holness, who demonstrates in word and in deed that she stands up for children.
Keynote Address
“Children are a gift from the Lord and a blessing” quoted Mrs. Holness. She then debunked two common sayings used in relation to children.

1.     “Spare the rod and spoil the child” is often quoted as a command to beat children. However, the rod is not intended for beating. The shepherd’s rod was used to guide the sheep, not to beat them. There are other ways of punishing children, such as time-out and withholding privileges.

2.     “Children should be seen and not heard.” Children do make excessive noise sometimes, but it is our responsibility to listen to children as well as talk to them, so that we can be sure we understand each other. Body language is not sufficient engagement. They can tell right from wrong and know how to trick you.

It is our responsibility to build children’s self-esteem.

Re the internet: many people are fearful of children using the internet, rightly so as there are pitfalls. While it is useful for children to be able to do their own research, we need to pay attention to what they are doing on the internet. Children push hard against rules and norms, so parents and other adults in charge of children must give guidance to give support for positive development.
     She welcomed the launch of EPOCC, pointing out that child abuse includes emotional abuse; and that we don’t realize how many children are in need of this service. A desperate human is one with no hope. She implored us to support the work of EPOCC.
     The function closed with the presentation of an orchid to Mrs. Holness by Hopeton Ridgard; Vote of Thanks by Mrs. Janette Allen; Closing Remarks by Joy Crooks; and closing prayer by Rev. Milton Davidson.