When Amanda, one of our newest board members, rolled on the ACE board this year to serve, the first thing she and her husband, Digger, requested to do was to provide Summer School for our Second Story students in the Child Sponsorship Program.
I have never seen our students so excited as I did this summer, as I watched our eager teenagers coming early each day to attend class. You see, Amanda, Digger and their team of teachers have a unique way of teaching topics that make anyone want to learn. And learning is exactly what these students did. Amanda put an entire mystery together for the students to figure out how to find the thief who stole Ms. Shirley’s cookbook.
Even Mr. Moncrieffe had fun! Every day as I passed him leaving in the parking lot, he just shook his head with a big smile and said, “Wow! What a great day. I’m learning so much about making subjects fun for students. We hope this is just the beginning.”
Thank you to Amanda and her team and to all for investing in this wonderful 30-year-old ministry called ACE — where the learning never stops and we always find the fun!
Always grateful for you,
Marla and Allen
Special needs schools are rare in Jamaica. However, in St. Mary, there is a special needs school near the ACE campus. It’s called Edge Hill, and ACE has had a student in our Child Sponsorship Program attending school there for two years. Just the other day, we learned that the school was in need of a gas stove for training students to cook. Without a second thought, ACE jumped at the opportunity to give back to this school that is making a difference in St. Mary to those less fortunate. We bought a beautiful gas stove with a full oven. As the ACE staff was taking it off the truck and unpacking it, we saw the smile of the Vice Principal, Mrs. Charmaine Palmer Lee as she helped point to the location of install.
Thank you all for your treasure. This is one of the many reasons why we do what we do. It makes a difference.
ACE has been sponsoring students for almost eight years now. We started with a few kids in the neighborhood that really needed help with food, clothing, books, taxi and shoes. Speeding forward, we now have close to 250 elementary and kindergarten students coming out of our communities of Hampstead, Galina, Water Valley, Mason Hall, and Heywood Hall.
The one-year commitment we originally made has quickly turned into a lifetime of learning and relationships between Jamaican families and their American sponsors. Even Allen and I have developed a special relationship with the families of our sponsored children, especially one in particular. Tahjebe, son of ACE’s own Lorna from Green Life Farms, is now on his way to the Caribbean Maritime University, a prestigious college in Kingston that has a 100% placement rate. Watching Tahj grow from a skinny little boy in Primary school to a skinny college man (smile) is a great marker to how this program prepares our students for future academic success.
This is Tahj’s last summer with ACE as he is preparing to enter the University and live on campus next month. Lorna, Tahj, and I were sitting around the kitchen table a few nights ago, reminiscing about Tahj as a child and how proud we are to be part of his life. Of course, his mother started crying and then Tahj got embarrassed – a typical mother/son relationship. She has always had big dreams for him, and now he is ready to find them for himself. Tahj wants to be a Ship Captain, which seems very achievable to me.
For those of you who sponsor students with ACE, we’d love to know the stories behind your child and how your stories have impacted your lives. Allen and I, while we don’t have children of our own, truly feel like we have a whole bunch of kids around us growing up fast. We are all making a difference in young lives, some here at home and some right next door.
What’s your story?? We would love to know!
~ Blessings, Marla & Allen
We all know what this time of year looks like for most of the U.S., but in Jamaica, it’s pretty much the same day in and out. Until the Child Sponsorship parents started thinking about the day in December. A few years ago, ACE began asking the sponsors of our 200+ students to consider sending ACE a monetary gift for their child so we could purchase something small in remembrance of the holiday and throw a festive Christmas party for the sponsored children. We are so happy to continue that tradition.
Yesterday, Amber went shopping and came back with what looked like a sleigh full of goodies. It’s amazing how far your donations go to provide wonderful gifts for the children. Some of you may be saying, “Well, I could have bought my child a gift and sent it versus sending in funds.” That is correct, but our past seems to define our present decisions in this area. Let’s face it – Americans think bigger is better rather than simple is sensational. We were receiving cameras, bikes, full clothing outfits, and stuffed animals the size of a car (not really, but close), but this way provides each child with a simple expression of kindness and a moment to know that they are all loved and cared for by you, their sponsors.
As we prepare for that big holiday, we certainly don’t want to forget to be thankful for all of you. Thanksgiving is such a great time for reflection. We attached a card we sent out to a few of you. You may wonder what that yellow stuff is on the front of the card – it’s not popcorn! Those are Scotch Bonnet peppers from our farm with boots of our farm employees, boots that a great family donated to our staff earlier this year. With that, we say Happy Thanksgiving! We are all so grateful for each of you and what you continually do for all of us Stateside and on the ground in Jamaica.
Blessings from all of us!
This week, Dr. Marie, a Board Member for ACE, gave her time and talent to begin the basic teaching structure for our new school. Everything starts with a vision of what can happen when great minds come together. These stickies are a picture of what the beginning of needs look like for our new school. Don’t strain your eyes, as we will be publishing a list of those needs for the school so it will be more readable. Pray that we get the land we have our eye on adjacent to the Campus that ACE desperately needs.
People and children are all alike when it comes to meetings and food. In the adult world we call it meetings and in our student’s world, it’s called Summer School.
Let us begin by saying a BIG THANK YOU for all of you who contributed to the 2016 Summer School/food initiative. Thanks to your generosity our kids didn’t go hungry but looked forward to learning with food in their bellies. When Summer school began at 12:30 pm, the children were fed juice and PB & J that our volunteers have left behind after serving with ACE throughout the year. At 4:00 pm they are given a boxed dinner consisting of chicken, rice, and salad to share with their family.
Then there was 2.5 hours of learning about sounds, letters, and themes. Jamaican students like American students love to create. Keeping the theme of literacy is fun when you can design an art piece to show what is being taught.
Did we mention that the school bus is running great??? We were able to pick up all 41 students each day transporting them to school and back. Uncle “Romie” as they refer to him was the driver and the singer all the way to Preston Hill. One of our staff asked Romeo if he liked his job. (He works for Galina Breeze when not driving) He just smiled and said, “Remember I have triplets coming up…, I’ll be driving them to ACE School one day….”
Contact us today to find out more about how you can join us in our mission to change lives and transform communities in St. Mary, Jamaica!
Many times I come across skeptics when they are visiting ACE in Jamaica who share with me the reason they “don’t” sponsor children “anywhere” in the world.
Where does “my” money go?
Is the child getting my letters?
If I come “there”, can I see them?
All I can say is yes, yes and all of the money goes towards the child!
That sounds incredible doesn’t it? It’s true, just ask any of our 200 sponsors who regularly write letters, send monthly support and visit their wonderful child in their homes.
Now, there are some risks involved in sponsoring an ACE child.
Risk #1 – You might fall in love with him or her.
Risk #2 – You might spend more money than you anticipated as the child grows into a better place of literacy, and living
Risk #3 – You might get a phone call after some time that your child’s parent is not fulfilling their commitment to keep your child eligible for sponsorship and is being dropped from the program or for some other reason that just doesn’t make sense to us in middle class America.
Risk number three is a hard one. We feel that our children are as special as the many friends and families that support them. We also have a commitment that our sponsors are as valued as our children. We have to be honest even when the story stinks. If you are some of the sponsors that have been through this, we understand and appreciate what you are doing to make a difference in Jamaica and for sticking with us even through the bumps in the road.
Some of you have been blessed to sponsor the same child for years and can see the changes and the smiles and the growth. We would love to share your stories and pictures on Facebook with the others that are still thinking about the risks.
Living on the edge is a good thing, and more often than not, the results are life-changing.