United Way beams as PSOJ COVID-19 Relief Fund reaches 80 per cent of target

THE Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) COVID-19 Response Fund is now up to almost $200 million — approximately 80 per cent of the target set when the PSOJ launched the fund on April 3.

The project has so far mobilised 1,215 volunteers, distributed 71,000 food packages in 52 communities, circulated 43,000 masks, and conducted 781 health checks.

Conceptualised by PSOJ President Keith Duncan, the fund was launched soon after the virus appeared in Jamaica and the United Way of Jamaica (UWJ) — given its proven track record in fund management — quickly offered its service as the fund manager.

“We reached out to the PSOJ, with the help of UWJ's governor and PSOJ Vice-President Mariame Robinson, highlighting several projects for which United Way of Jamaica had served as fund manager, including national disasters like Hurricane Gilbert, Hurricane Ivan and even the earthquake in Haiti where we managed funds sent via United Way Worldwide to assist that country.

“The PSOJ was convinced and invited United Way of Jamaica on board as fund manager of its COVID-19 Response Fund,” said Dr Marcia Forbes, chairperson of UWJ.

Over its 35 years, UWJ has successfully managed funds from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and many other global entities, and Forbes said this time was no different as it rallied a full team of volunteers, including its board directors and its entire secretariat, for behind-the-scenes support.

Long-standing volunteer and past chairman of UWJ, Elon Beckford co-chaired the oversight committee alongside Duncan. UWJ's immediate past chairman, Ian Forbes co-chaired the Allocations Committee and led the charge for the novel idea of a virtual run fund-raiser.