“The Source: An ‘oasis’ And ‘sanctuary’ In August Town”
Within two months of being established, The Source, an all-in-one resource centre established by Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS) to cater mainly to inner-city communities, has taken on an added role.
Dubbed an “oasis” shortly after its soft launch in mid-April this year at Bryce Hill Plaza, 85 August Town Road in St. Andrew, The Source is now regarded as a “sanctuary” for community members, especially youngsters, who otherwise may become wayward on a typical day.
“I think The Source is good for the community because it helps people a lot to stay off the road and stay out of trouble,” says 18-year-old Shinnel Lopez, who is currently doing additional studies to pursue her dream of becoming a banker or flight attendant.
Shinnel was among several persons who recently paid a very modest fee to use the Internet Café, one of the services provided at The Source, which boasts a modern high-tech centre, whose aesthetics and aura remain one of the constant drawing factors for persons such as Shinnel.
Many persons flock The Source in August Town on a daily basis. On a typical afternoon, the resource centre becomes a hive of activity for younger students returning from school, who use the facilities to study and do their school assignments.
The Source also provides business management services, small business development and support via the Jamaica Business Development Centre (JBDC), access to JN Small Business Loans; as well as, meeting rooms and a job preparedness and placement programme.
In providing business management services, persons can make The Source their registered, or virtual office, where they receive emails, post, phone calls and access administrative support to help their business become better organized and more efficient.
Roderick “Penny Bling” Hamilton, an entertainer, who uses the Internet Café to send and receive his email messages, explained, “Before this facility, students had to travel for miles to the nearest parish library to work on their school assignments. Now they are nearer to home and have access to the Internet.”
He stated that, indirectly, The Source would have a positive impact on the lives of people in the community. “Once more people improve their economic, social and educational standing, it will make a big difference,” he suggested.
Under the Job Placement Programme, supported by the UWI Township Project, a human resource specialist at The Source prepares residents for new employment and gets qualified candidates placed into jobs.
“I now work as a cashier in a hardware store,” Kelia Levy pointed out,” having learned job interview techniques and how to write my resume to seek employment. And the on-going support has been very good.”
Persons can also visit The Source to make visa appointments, photocopy and scan documents, send and receive faxes, top-up their cellular phone credit, top up their JUTC transport card; as well as, place classified advertisements in The Gleaner.
The Source is the brainchild of Mr. Peter Moses, Past President of the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ). Mr. Moses, along with Mr. Earl Jarrett, General Manager of Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS,32); Mr. Oliver Clarke, Managing Director of the Gleaner Company Limited;
and Dr. Marshall Hall of the Jamaica Producers Group, developed the remit for the programme and the Source concept was born.
The overarching aim of the programme, as conceived by the team, was to bring modern technology and access to enabling services to inner city communities.
The modern technology aspect is welcomed by 18-year-old Kemar McFarlane who has been living in August Town for several years. He frequently uses the Internet Café to check emails and to play games. “It helps you to keep off the road and get out of trouble,” he says.
Ryan Simpson, 13, a first form student of Denham Town High in West Kingston, says he uses the Source to conduct research for his school projects. He finds that having the Source in his community gives him an advantage in the quality of his school assignments, compared to some of his classmates who have little or no access to the Internet.
“It (the Source) helps a lot of people to go on the Internet,” Ryan states.
Meanwhile, Saffrey Brown, the driving force in the development and implementation of The Source, highlights the uniqueness of the project.
“This facility provides a wide range of services,” she says, noting that while The Source doesn’t primarily seek to make a profit, it aims to generate funds to keep its doors opened.
“It is self-sustaining; it has established strong partnerships, and is guided by high quality service and provision. The Source is what you would call a Social Enterprise, it is a for profit organisation with not- for-profit aims, thereby addressing the issue of sustainability,” Ms. Brown adds.
She also notes that, based on the positive responses from August Town residents, and the demand for similar services in other low-income communities, the JNBS and its Partners are moving to replicate the project elsewhere.
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