Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Sandals Foundation comes to Grenada

WITH the new Sandals La Source resort having already given the economy an employment boost over the last 10 months, Grenada can now also expect to benefit from the community outreach efforts of the Sandals Foundation.

Last Friday, President of the Sandals Foundation Board and CEO of Sandals Resorts International (SRI), Adam Stewart, along with SRI Regional Public Relations Manager, Dominic Fedee, presented the non-profit organisation’s 2009-2013 report and gave an overview of the work of the Foundation at a press conference at Sandals La Source.

President of the Sandals Foundation
Board and CEO of Sandals Resorts
International (SRI), Adam Stewart.
“All told, between cash, volunteerism and kind, the Foundation has collected over US$12 million since March 2009, 100 per cent of which goes back into the Caribbean communities,” revealed Stewart.

In Grenada, Sandals Foundation has already implemented its Reading Road Trip programme, which takes donors into the communities so they can interact with the persons whose lives are being improved by the work of the Foundation. Other projects identified for possible collaboration include the School for the Blind, the Dove Preservation Sanctuary, as well as sport development and community programmes.

Said Fedee, “Definitely some of the staple Sandals Foundation programmes [will be introduced]. You will see a big injection in education through our Care For Kids programme, which is our scholarship programme which will touch at least 10 Grenadian secondary school students… Once they continue doing well at school, we are willing to fund their education for as much as seven years through that programme.”

Sandals Foundation is currently involved in over 300 projects across the seven Caribbean islands where SRI operates. Focusing on the areas of education, community development and the environment, some of these initiatives include the establishment of schools, sports academies and marine parks. Each country has a sub-committee which is made up of persons from within the communities themselves, who help identify long-term projects to be ratified at the board level.

SRI Regional Public Relations
Manager, Dominic Fedee.
“We spend a lot of time looking for the projects, working with people. They have to be sustainable; they’re not grants that are just handed out to people or dire situations; they’ve got to be sustainable programmes that are going to be game-changing for the countries that they operate in,” Stewart maintained.

“The team members of our company are the ones that drive this every day and those team members, nine and half times out of ten, live right outside in these communities; so you get that personal legitimacy to bring this thing to life.”

Confident about collections

Responding to whether he anticipates donations to drop in the face of the ongoing global economic difficulties, he declared, “I have every intention of more than doubling it [amount of donations collected] this year.

“The key to charitable works and what people misunderstand way too often is you don’t have to give a lot; you have to get a little bit from a lot of people,” he contended.

“The key to this is the fact that we have over one million customers a year and we just gently talk to them about the challenges these countries have. If they’re not interested, we don’t force it upon them, but I believe personally … that we live in a generation today, between connectivity and social media, that the world is so sensitised to the challenges that we have.

“In addition to tapping into the existing database of loyal Sandals customers, the Foundation is currently developing a public service announcement to be aired in its source markets with the donated efforts of a popular US film director and a US female hip-hop artiste.

“The sky is really the limit for community development with the Sandals Foundation. We are in this for the long run. We are more than an investor; we are partners for the future of the communities that we invest in,” said Fedee.

“We have just landed and the hotel is only six weeks old, so the Foundation is just doing its research and making sure that we do things properly so that Grenada can have the best experience.

“It will take us another three or four months to really identify those marquee programmes and then we’ll start to work towards getting them up and running,” Stewart concluded. (YA)

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