Rockin ‘out at a Shaggy concert has perks – for Jamaica: Travel Weekly

Gay Nagle Myers

I was at a rock party in the Caribbean with Jamaican artist Shaggy last week.

Well, not literally. Virtually. The “Mr. Jamaica” superstar appeared live at Joe’s Pub in New York City to support the 17th annual auction fundraiser for the Rockhouse Foundation’s work with schoolchildren in West Jamaica.

The event was broadcast live on YouTube for the first time in 16 years (last year was banned due to Covid). Shaggy’s energy, passion, song and dance moves poured out onto my laptop screen.

The Rockhouse Foundation was founded by the owners of the Rockhouse Hotel & Spa in Negril and sister property Skylark Negril Beach Resort in 2003 to transform the places where Jamaican children learn and to support those who teach them. So far, the foundation has invested more than $ 6 million to transform seven public schools and local libraries.

“In March 2020, when the pandemic struck and everything closed, children could no longer have meals at school,” said Peter Rose, president of the foundation. “It has been a struggle for so many families without a paycheck to put food on the table.

“We have pivoted and formed the Rockhouse Food Distribution Initiative, and every Friday for the past 90 weeks, we’ve provided staples, such as flour, rice, and cooking oil, to 1,000 families, a total of 250 tonnes to date, ”he said.

The foundation has now embarked on its largest project, the Sav Inclusive School in the region’s capital, Savanna-la-Mar, near Negril, where typical learners and children with a wide range of special needs will be taught. in the same classroom.

“We are committed to expanding the school through elementary and high school so that children entering kindergarten know they will be in the same school until they graduate,” said Rose.

“It will be designed as a campus with avenues and colonnades,” he said. “They will feel comfortable and those with special needs will have speech and language pathologists and physiotherapists that they know and know them throughout their school years. It will be their home away from home until what they graduate from. “

“We’re almost ready to build this campus, in phases over the next five to seven years.”

All schools in Jamaica are expected to reopen to in-person learning in January. The foundation has stepped up efforts to have repairs and maintenance completed and health and safety protocols in place at the seven schools currently under its responsibility.

As the auction began at Joe’s Pub to raise money for the new school, Rose asked her audience, many of whom were Jamaicans, friends from Jamaica, and former guests of Rockhouse and Skylark, to ” dig deep ”. And they did.

The auction was swift and furious for prizes including round-trip JetBlue tickets, five-night stays at Rockhouse and Skylark, and dinner for 10 at Miss Lily’s restaurants in New York City, Negril and Dubai.

Other offers were made to finance transportation to schools, maintenance of schools, children’s breakfast, the purchase of school supplies and the installation of Internet in classrooms.

In total, the event raised more than $ 1 million for the foundation’s educational projects. And to top it off the evening was Shaggy. I raised a glass of Jamaican rum to toast him and his fundraising efforts for the foundation as well as his many other charities for Jamaican causes.

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