NEW YORK – International cultural icon, Professor Rex Nettleford, will be special guest at the 15th Annual Scholarship Gala of the New York based Jamaican charity Children of Jamaica Outreach (COJO) Inc. The event, which takes place on Saturday, December 5, 2009 will be held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, LaGuardia Airport. The festivities will begin with cocktails at 7:30 pm to be followed by dinner and dance.
The much-decorated Jamaican-born Nettleford, a Rhodes Scholar (Oxford University, London) and Vice Chancellor Emeritus of the University of the West Indies, has won much acclaim for his work in academia, the arts and culture. He is credited with increasing global understanding and appreciation of Caribbean culture and identity.
The 2009 COJO gala dinner, being held under the patronage of Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States His Excellency Anthony Johnson, marks a significant milestone for the organization which was established in 1994. To this end, a number of individuals and organizations will be honored for their contribution to COJO, among them the Sandals Resorts International Chairman, Hon. Gordon “Butch” Stewart, O.J., JetBlue Airways, Tower Isle Frozen Foods and Raglan George, Jr., Executive Director, District Council 1707.
The Annual Scholarship Gala is COJO’s major fundraiser held on the first Saturday in December each year, proceeds from which are used to provide scholarships and support for deserving students and Jamaican child care institutions in need.
For more than a decade, the volunteer-driven organization has supported a number of institutions in Jamaica and the United States. Among them are the Alpha Boys’ Home; Glenhope Place of Safety; Marigold Child Care Centre, Musgrave Girls’ Home, City of Refuge and Summerfield Boys Home in Jamaica; and in New York, the Jamaica, Queens YMCA and Leaf of Life.
Founder and Chairman of COJO Gary Williams said, “Despite the challenging economic times, it is heartening to see companies and individuals still making a contribution towards enhancing the future – our children.” He added that “In an effort to further its mission, COJO will seek to further utilize the technology in years to come and embrace social media as part of its fundraising strategy.”
A number of corporate entities including JetBlue have donated airline tickets as raffle prizes with the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, Iberostar Rose Hall, Point Village, Grand Palladium, Sandals and other Jamaican properties providing hotel accommodation.