Montego Bay businessman, Howard Deers, JP, who was presented with the ‘Spirit of Independence’ award on August 6, by the St. James Parish Council, is widely regarded in St. James as a man from the “heart of the city” with the “city at heart”.
Mr. Deers, who is a product of the volatile Montego Bay inner city of Railway Gardens, has been volunteering for years to improve the city of Montego Bay and the parish of St. James.
He was awarded for his community work in the parish, touching the lives of many citizens from all walks of life.
A very proud Mr. Deers tells JIS News that he shares the ‘Spirit of Independence’ award with those persons he has helped along the way, especially the youth of the inner-city communities across Montego Bay.
“They have inspired me to continue doing what I have been doing for over 40 years. While I understand that they see me as their mentor, I must say they serve as an inspiration for me to continue to open new doors for them in order for their positions in life to be upgraded,” he says.
“The award brings a feeling of satisfaction to me, to know that my work is being recognized and that I am actually alive and in good health while being awarded,” Mr. Deers adds.
This devoted Jamaican has led a life of volunteerism, having given his time and service to the then Jamaica Movement for the Advancement of Literacy (JAMAL), now the Jamaica Foundation for Lifelong Learning (JFLL), the Arts and Culture Centre in Montego Bay, and as a Sports Coordinator for the Social Development Commission (SDC), in St. James.
Mr. Deers also served in Kingston and St. Andrew, where he was engaged in Social Work on behalf of the Sites and Services Division of the Ministry of Housing, organizing youth clubs in areas, such as Nannyville in Kingston; Dela Vega City in St. Catherine, and in the Norwood community in St. James.
Currently the Managing Director for Sunholiday Travel and Tours Limited, he remains very active in the Montego Bay community, serving on various Boards in the parish; civic and sporting organizations, including the St. James Cricket Association, Montego Bay Cricket Club, the Infrastructural Development Committee of the St. James Parish Council as well as the St. James Police Civic Affairs Committee, where he has direct oversight for the Barrett Town Police Station in Rose Hall.
A member of the Montego Bay Boys’ and Girls’ Club, an institution that has produced a number of Jamaica’s top musicians, singers and sports stars, Mr. Deers continues to show appreciation for the work being done by the organization and played a major role in the establishment of a computer lab at their River Bay base. He was supported on that project by the Peace Boat of Japan and Sunholiday Tours Limited.
He often assists Custos of St. James, Hon. Ewen Corrodos, with the training of Justices of the Peace (JPs), and is an active Ambassador of the Governor-General’s ‘I Believe Initiative’ in the parish.
Mr. Deers has earned the reputation of being someone who is never too busy to offer a word of advice to the youth. In fact, he is often seen in the communities of Railway Lane, Glendevon, Norwood, Canterbury and Mount Salem holding one-on-one meetings with youth who may be in need of counsel or guidance.
“I am never too busy to lend a hand, give a listening ear or even just talk to the youth of St. James. I look forward to being stopped along the road by youngsters who are in need of counselling. My role as a JP has assisted greatly in that regard as even while I am conducting Petty Session cases in court, I readily give advice. This is the life I live and will continue to live,” he tells JIS News.
Mr. Deers is a member of the Family Church on The Rock in Reading, St. James, and is a proud father of four children and grandfather of six. He is also an avid cricket, football and track and field fan.
By Marlon Tingling