Photograph by M. Francis, Courtesy of Kings House. (left to right) Curt Talhelm, Ryan Pryor, Sir Patrick Allen, Landon Ash & Laura Tanna
As those of you familiar with the American Friends of Jamaica (AFJ) twice-yearly galas to raise funds for health, education and development in Jamaica know, the online auction (Charity Buzz) has become a large part of our fund-raising. So I want to share with you what a wonderful experience those who used Charity Buzz in the last Miami March 2015 auction had when they bid to enjoy tea with His Excellency, The Most Honourable Sir Patrick Allen ON, GCMG, CD at Kings House in Kingston, Jamaica on Wednesday, May 20th. His Excellency called me, as a director of the AFJ, to ask if I wouldn’t please join him in welcoming three gentlemen from Xtreme Concepts, along with Ambassador Evadne Coye.
We had the best time. Landon E. Ash, CEO of the company, Curt Talhelm, Dir. Government Affairs and Ryan Pryor, Dir. of Training Law Enforcement first enjoyed a tour of the historic residence of Jamaica’s Governor Generals. Mr. Ash explained that he was a friend of one of the directors of Charity Buzz who suggested Mr. Ash would be interested in this opportunity. Xtreme Concepts, in addition to their corporate work, also supports work that alleviates suffering and encourages positive behavior so the I Believe Initiative of Sir Patrick appealed to them, plus they enjoy meeting world leaders.
We were invited into the lovely upstairs living room, amongst antiques, and Sir Patrick joined us to be the most convivial of hosts. He spoke with each of the guests, drawing them out about their work and individual backgrounds, then shared stories about his time as a student in Michigan.
I was the only one who actually took tea. Everyone else had juice, served with small sandwiches, biscuits, scones and while partaking of these Sir Patrick explained what inspired him to create the I Believe Initiative. In Michigan he had noticed that American students were so self-confident and he wanted young Jamaicans to have that same belief in themselves and the future of their country. Since he became Jamaica’s Governor General, his I Believe Initiative has helped to change the lives of many young Jamaicans. The opportunities afforded them can be viewed on the I Believe Initiative website. Contributions to this cause may be given via the AFJ with US tax exemptions.
The visitors were given the warmest reception by His Excellency who spent an hour and a half in conversation. He was magnificent and the three men were most interesting in their own right, sharing stories of their own careers.
Sir Patrick signed their copies of Behind the Scenes at King’s House, 1873-2010, the excellent book about Jamaica seen through the eyes of each Governor and Governor General written by acclaimed author Jackie Ranston. Each man was presented with this book as a memento of his visit. So keep your eyes open for other memorable opportunities to help Jamaica through the AFJ!