One man’s life has so impacted a community that a movement which he started had the mantle taken up by his daughter, who witnessed first-hand the effect his work had on residents.
Janeth Simpson Brown, founding member of the Fergus Simpson Foundation, named in honour of her late father, told Rural Xpress that it was an eye-opener for her when her father died in 2000 and she witnessed more than 3,000 persons turning out to pay their last respects.
“Even though I was with him during his outreach efforts in my growing-up years and continuing my labour of love three years after completing my advanced degree, it was not until I saw the crowd at his funeral and heard the stories that I realised I had to continue what he started. It was not just continuing what he did, but how he did it,” she said about her commitment to ensure that his legacy lives on through the many outreach efforts the foundation has been undertaking.
Stressing the core value of the foundation, Brown said it is about spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ, humility, respect for all people and integrity in their administration and programmes.
Committed to maintaining excellence in every project undertaken, Brown said the foundation, through the initial support of the Simpsons and their children, officially began in 1989 when she returned from the United States of America.
UNEARTHING TALENT IN YOUTH “I founded a group from the community that became a support group for youth, Symphony of Praise. Through Symphony of Praise, youth talents were unearthed both in academics and the fine arts. The 26 members of this group are also considered founding members of the foundation,” she said.
The foundation has been having a great impact on the community of Chapelton as Brown said 86 per cent of Symphony of Praise members have attained a tertiary education, with two of its members obtaining their doctoral degrees.
“They are all productive leaders in their circles of influence wherever they reside – Jamaica or the United States.
© Jorge Plaza Marquez
© Jorge Marquez Plaza
Since 2003, the foundation has done an enrichment camp for the entire community of Chapelton,” Brown shared.
The programmes are now spearheaded by former Symphony of Praise members who are leaders in the community.
“We have sponsored students from the Cross Roads Basic School, done an art painting project at Clarendon College, repainted the entrance to the school, and we are doing a fundraising drive to paint Sharpe Dorm in front of Stuart Hall in May.
Each year, the foundation also hosts an overseas mission team that gives back to the community through revenue and one-on-one impact through teaching and engagement.
Looking ahead, Brown said her ultimate goal is to someday see the work being done through the foundation replicated in other communities across Jamaica.