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It all started with a wish that led to a dream, to enhance learning and provide resources to the educational system in Jamaica. Motivated by her love of country, a wish in her heart, and the support of people who believed in her dream, Simone Sobers realized wishes really could come true. WWKIDS’ resilience was tested as everyone adjusted to the unpredictable and unprecedented events of the Pandemic. With first challenges faced and early obstacles conquered, we reached a great milestone.  Simone and friends were able to raise glasses in celebration of the One Year Anniversary of Winsome Wishes for Kids!

Every celebration is planned with the thought of wanting it to be memorable.  Thanks to the graciousness of hosts Edward and Lisa Baquero, our patrons, friends and board members got to reflect on the journey, say thank you, and celebrate.   The intimate and elegantly designed library at our hosts’ home was warm and inviting – and evenly matched how our hosts greeted arriving guests.  Chef Karl McDermott of Hamptons by Design provided all the culinary flair of Jamaica to the event, and everyone validated the cuisine’s delicious Caribbean flavor with smiles after each bite. The words describing the variety of desserts were tasty, sweet, decadent, smooth, and flavorful.  Chef Baldwin Shields of Johnny Baldwin Cheesecake, a welcomed favorite, did not disappoint as he fed our sweet tooth generously.

The time had come to execute the evening’s agenda: some guests attended in-person and others joined the live-streamed event.  Neda Nevab, Director of Fundraising and a member of the Board of Trustees kicked off the festivities with the welcome address and a complimentary introduction to the President and Founder, Simone Sobers.  Simone reported on the state of education in Jamaica and how much promise she sees in all of the students on the island - if given adequate resources.  Simone then introduced Pam Loree, the organization's Early Childhood Education Advisor who informed us on the importance of supporting teachers if they are to be effective in the classroom.  The evening’s keynote speaker streamed live and was none other than Vanessa Noel, philanthropist, designer, hotelier, gallerist and Vice Chair on the Board of Round Hill Hotel and Villas Jamaica.  She reminded us why people find the island of Jamaica so special and why we should invest in its future.  The evening progressed quickly but everyone took a pause and started to sway as Joseph Davis, a promising young student at the exclusive Berklee College of Music, graced us with the gift of his music.  His arrangements, using various instruments, were beautiful renditions of popular songs and the melodies definitely took one to the shores of the Caribbean. Joan Andrea Hutchinson, OD, concluded the speeches of the evening.  Her exuberance was infectious as she toasted the One Year Celebration of Winsome Wishes Kids with laughter and a heartfelt recognition of an organization that has grown so quickly after only one year.  

Joan also MC’d the live-stream programming, which was equally fun-filled: Attendees engaged in lively and entertaining conversations ranging from Jamaican parenting to traditional educational mores of the islands. Joan is a trailblazing subject-matter educator and researcher, and passionately advocates for patois as a second language in Western Culture, explaining how educators are now juxtaposing the dialect alongside the fabric of English grammar lessons. Indeed, every guest at the virtual event enjoyed the night and came away edified and entertained, and it’s hard to determine which of the two groups, live-stream or in-person, had a better time! Suffice to say, we all commemorated WWKIDS’ first year with a warm, intimate, and joyful gathering of patrons, friends, and board members. May many more of the wishes for Winsome Wishes for KIDS come true. We look forward to a prosperous 2022.

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