Christy Fund

Jamaica Gleaner - - PROFILE - LIFE­STYLE WRITER

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

CON­TRIB­UTED PHO­TOS

Krysta An­der­son Chris­telle Har­ris with a few of the chil­dren at her back-to-school ini­tia­tive.

CON­TRIB­UTED

Chris­telle Har­ris is mak­ing a dif­fer­ence in the lives of chil­dren.

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