THE DISTINGUISHED — VOLUNTEERISM
Ashli-Ann Broughton Jackson, the founder and executive director of the Street People Liberation Foundation, started the organisation as a 17-year-old student at the Anchovy High School. At the time, Broughton-Jackson and co-founder Kyle Jackson had a small team of just ten members. With local and overseas donations, they began purchasing and preparing meals that were distributed to homeless individuals in and around Montego Bay, St James.
Volunteerism has always come naturally for Broughton-Jackson. According to her, it is one of the greatest feelings to assist others in need. “I am used to seeing everyone in my family giving. It is embedded in me, based on what I would have seen my grandparents and my parents do,” Broughton Jackson said.
“Also, growing up while in high school, I was very involved in clubs and organisations [where] I had the opportunity to give back. Even in church, I would get involved in anything that had to do with charity,” she said.
Today, the Street People Liberation Foundation has grown exponentially and boasts more than 170 members islandwide, with a large contingent in Montego Bay, where it all began eight years ago.
“When I receive donations to give back, it shows that all is not lost. When you get up, close and personal with some of these individuals, you realise that they are regular human beings [who] are going through a difficult time. Some of these persons just need rehabilitation and reintegration back into the society,” Broughton-Jackson said.
The COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted the homeless; however, the group remained committed to its mandate of supporting the homeless. In the difficulties presented by COVID-19, they increased their outreach to provide added assistance despite a decrease in funding. She is encouraging others to give back in whatever way that they can.
“If you are passionate about an area, you can volunteer or even give back to your community. We are in the era of technology and globalisation, so you do not always have to be physically present to give. You can mentor someone and give your support,” Broughton-Jackson said.
For her philanthropic efforts, Brought-Jackson has received the Prime Minister Youth Award for Excellence in Nation Building, the St James Junior Council Award for Valuable Contribution to the Parish, and the Ministry of Education’s Outstanding Achievement In Youth Development, among others.
“It is an honour to be able to serve. Oftentimes, young individuals in service may not necessarily get the recognition for the efforts. So, it is an even greater honour to be recognised for my efforts towards volunteerism. Just to be considered is already an achievement in and of itself,” Broughton-Jackson said.
She shared that the foundation’s upcoming plans include creating a shelter of their own, and outreach projects in other parishes.