Lion Winston G. Smith, Resource Centre Chairman , 2013/2014
It was June 8th 1994; The Lions family saw the birth of its newest Club, born within the precincts of the Senior Common Room (SCR) of the UWI Mona Campus. The new-born was christened and registered as the Lions Club of Kingston Mona with the late Lion Herbert Edwards, MJF, officiating. Also in attendance were: Lion Karl Francis, MJF, Past Council Chairman, many other ranking Lion District officers and Lions from a number of other Lions Clubs, including officers and members of our sponsoring Club, the Lions Club of Spanish Town. The SCR remained the Club’s meeting place for the years following the Club’s Charter and until the new building was constructed and outfitted in 2007. Meeting at the SCR was not without its challenges. General and Social meetings were held in one of the two meeting rooms at the SCR, bookings had to made in advance and the club was billed on a per hour basis. Despite these formal arrangements with the SCR, there were times when meetings had to be either re-scheduled for a later start time than planned or be postponed all together because the facility was being used by university interests with a higher precedence ord
er for its use.
The period following the Club’s Charter saw high energy, enthusiasm and strong commitment to serve the needy and the less fortunate in the Mona community and environs. In response many projects were spawned especially those relating to: Education, health and geriatrics. Our outreach extended far away as Mavis Bank. It did not take long for Club members to realize that the need to have unbridled and reliable access to a venue for holding seminars, to conduct training exercises and to store equipment and materials for projects as well as to conduct its own administrative meetings were essential if the Club was to reliably deliver and sustain it service offerings to the community that it served. There was also a need to store Club property. The visionaries among us started to look for solutions. They saw how limited and under resourced the facilities for special needs students on Ring Road were. They also saw the possibility of addressing the limitations of the Special Students facilities as well as finding a meeting venue for the Club as a single solution. Members of the Club were then engaged with the idea of the Club embarking on a major project to address the needs of the Special needs students by building and equipping a state of the art Resource Center for the students with disability and which could be shared with the Lions Club of Mona
The concept of the UWI Mona Lions Resource Centre was born. The University was formally engaged, many meetings and discussions were held and finally a partnership arrangement was struck, culminating in a formal lease arrangement being entered into between the Lions Club of Mona and the UWI Mona which allowed the Club to construct and equip the two floor facility and with ascribed obligations to both parties.
Many would ask how did it happen and the simple answer is, with the backing and effort of Club members, spanning many Lions Administrations, with funds being raised from many fund-raising events staged by the Club and with substantial sponsorships from the Corporate World elicited by the hard- working and dedicated Resource Centre Committee Chairman of the period, Lion Dr. Keith Peart, PMJF and his Committee. The University of the West Indies Endowment Fund (UWIDEF) as well as some Lions Clubs supported the effort. The Honour Roll in the foyer of the ground floor of the building bears testimony to donors from the Corporate World as well as some private donors..Ground was broken in 2005 and construction started in February 2006. The 5000 sq. ft. building was built and equipped at a cost of US770,000 and was officially opened and handed over at a ceremony on June 15, 2007. The Ground floor serves as the Centre for Students with Disabilities and the Office of Students with special needs. Both entities are heavy users of the upper floor meeting-room. The Centre has hosted many Lions meetings and seminars on behalf of the disabled and challenged community over the past 7 years. The 2014 regional disability Conference was held there in March. In February 2014 the Centre hosted the Jamaica Society for the Blind in its grant funding hand-over function by the Japanese Embassy. It has also hosted numerous Zone meetings and a number of projects, seminars and training courses in education and health related matters as well as Disaster preparedness.
By constructing a Den is an achievement and a feat that only few Lions Clubs in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands can boast. The building not only elevates the Image of the Lions Club of Mona but also that of Lions Clubs in Region 4. It is indeed a good example of partnership, commitment, tenacity and team-work. As we mark our 20th year as a Club and as we look toward to the beginning of the 3rd decade of service to our community, may we strive to re-kindle that spirit that emboldens us then to dare and may we seek to soar even higher in the years to come.