Wed | Oct 18, 2017

Beyond the Call of Beauty : Christy Fund

Published:Sunday | September 17, 2017 | 12:00 AMKrysta Anderson
Harris decided to make a difference through service.
Christelle Harris is making a difference in the lives of children.
Christelle Harris with a few of the children at her back-to-school initiative.
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The words by former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill could not be more true of the life led by Christelle Harris. "We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."

Previously in Beyond the Call of Beauty, we shared the story of Davina Bennett, who went on to be crowned Miss Universe Jamaica 2017. We are staying in the field of pageantry, by putting the spotlight on yet another woman of courage, beauty and grace, who has started her very own charity fund dedicated to helping children with back-to-school preparations.

Christelle Harris, first-runner up of the Miss Jamaica World contest in 2006, and currently the director of marketing at Hampden Estate Rums - distributors of Rum Fire and Hampden Gold Rum, was taught to work hard and respect everyone.

Harris is no stranger to giving back. In fact, she always wanted to help those less fortunate, and from a very tender age, was always asking why there were so many in need. "When I was younger, I did not understand why some people seemed to have it so difficult and others didn't. It made no sense to me whatsoever. I would think of my friends at school - I'm human, she's human. Why can't she afford her schoolbooks and I can? Why can't she afford to buy lunch and I can? Why does her mummy never come to pick her up from school? Where is her mummy and her daddy?"

 

FINDING AN ANSWER

 

She confessed, she was very naive, but this disparity made her uncomfortable, sad and with an inexplicable sense of guilt. As she grew older she began to understand, but the guilt didn't subside. So the best way to come to terms with it was to find an answer. Service, she declared, would be her solution. "God has blessed me so graciously that it is my duty to be of service," she told Outlook.

It was through her 25th birthday party that her dream became a reality. Her grandmother insisted that she would host one for her granddaughter, and she took the opportunity to raise funds for a worthy cause, the Bustamante Hospital for Children.

"I did not accept gifts, but encouraged donations to my new charity. I have always loved children, and as such, the Bustamante Hospital for Children was the perfect fit. I requested a meeting with Dr Innis and expressed that I was desirous of helping as many children as I could with the funds raised. Soon thereafter, I delivered some of the equipment at the top of his wish list. That was the beginning of my service," she added.

Since then, the Christelle Harris' Charity Fund (CHF) has moved their efforts to Trelawny, working with schools such as Cedric Titus High School, Clark's Town Primary School, Happy Venture Basic School, Hampden Primary School, Dumfries Basic School, St Michael The Archangel Primary School, and Spicy Hill Basic School.

Some of the work that have been done include upgrading and renovating their facilities, purchasing furniture, providing kitchen equipment and meals, donating gifts in cash and kind to outstanding teachers and students, back-to-school and Christmas treats for the children and surrounding communities. "Every child deserves an opportunity, so to play my part, however little it may be, is an honour," Harris said.

She has even extended her goodwill to the Church. "Two years ago, I was summoned by a friend in Bounty Hall, Trelawny, requesting assistance with the church. The church was the centre of the community, and they were in dire need of assistance. So I've been stepping in to lend a hand, where I can, since then," she revealed.

 

MORE SUPPORT NEEDED

 

Not enough hands on deck, geographical difficulty, raising funds and lack of awareness are a few of the obstacles Harris has encountered along the way. "We've done a good job, but I want to do better. I want to positively impact more lives, on a more consistent basis."

Luckily, for her, she has a very supportive family that, she says, is a blessing. "I also have the great fortune of being assisted by Mosi 'Peppie' Grant, the tour manager at Hampden Distillery in Trelawny. Between him and Paul Harris, manager at Hampden Distillery, they ensure that if assistance is needed in the area, they get it done," she asserted.

Aside from getting more help from individuals with different skill sets to form an effective management team, she will be requesting more corporate assistance to suit the community's needs.

Her advice to anyone wanting to give back is to the visit the site cvssja.org. "The Council of Voluntary Social Services is the longest standing coordinating body for non-governmental organisations involved in social development in Jamaica. Although CHCF is not officially a member (yet), their list of members reaches far and wide - they all provide opportunities for you to become a volunteer. If you still can't find an organisation that you connect with on a personal level, then start your own charity, as you've probably discovered a need that deserves attention, and somebody who can benefit from your service."

You can keep up to date with CHCF at http://www.chcfja.org/

krysta.anderson@gleanerjm.com