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Mission Work

Concert fundraiser successful

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The Spring Concert put on by the Jamaica Outreach Program on March 2, 2015 was a smashing success. Patrons left the venue with glowing remarks: “Fantastic … like being on Broadway!” and “Incredible feast for the ears.”

Performers included the very popular Southwest Florida talent of Billy Dean and Dawn. They were joined by our favorite Jamaican tenor Kevin Williams who not only performed several spiritual hymns but charmed the audience with beautiful ballads including “Perhaps Love” and “Unchained Melody.” Also featured was Dino Vallee, a well-known supporter of the arts and popular opera personality in Southwest Florida and Detroit. His renditions of “Old Man River” and “Largo” from The Barber of Seville were superb.

Chairperson Roger Plante welcomed the audience of nearly 300 and gave a brief synopsis of J.O.P.’s work in Kingston, Jamaica. Funds raised from this wonderful event will support the annual food drive for Jamaica as well as the dental, optical, and medical clinics on the compound of St. Pius X.

See the photos here

Casino Night 2015

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Jamaica Outreach Casino Night Raised over $13,000

The Casino Night held February 6th, 2015 was sold out and a great success, raising over $13,000 for the poor in Jamaica. Guests were greeted at the door with a flashing red carpet entrance and early bird donation specials on raffle tickets or casino chips. Fun and joy were reflected on the faces of guests as they enjoyed fine food & drink and got great deals on the Silent Auction. When the Casino opened there was a mad dash to favorite gaming tables: Roulette, Blackjack, Craps, Texas Holdem and Slot machines…. People were 3 and 4 deep watching others play or waiting to get in on the action. Cheers, moans and groans could be heard throughout the ballroom as winners and losers reacted to the turn of a card or roll of the dice. The atmosphere was electric and everyone left happy (especially those who won the great raffle prizes… the grand prize cruise was won by Nancy Tuck). Casino Party Nights Florida created a very professional Casino and the dealers were real characters. We will definitely do this again next year (save the date Feb 4, 2016). Thank you to all who contributed to the success of this event, especially our sponsors: Gary & Peg Wendlandt, Jeanne & Bob Stamant, John & Mary Tingle, Steve Pala and 2 anonymous donors.

See all the photos: click here

Choir visits Naples Feb 2015

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The weekend of February 6-8, 2015, was special in many ways.  A Jamaican choir under the direction of Kevin Williams graced the liturgies at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Naples, FL with beautiful voices and hymns. That weekend a special collection was taken up in the church to support our sister parish St. Pius X, the medical, dental and optical clinics at St. Pius X as well as education programs there and elsewhere in Jamaica. We extend heartfelt thanks for your support and loyalty to our mission to help the poor in Jamaica.

Hosting the choir for three days in private homes involved a concerted effort on the part of many.  Hosting involves chauffeuring, lodging, feeding, and providing a home away from home to a choir that gives its all with cheer and good will.   The fact that those amenities are extended by our hosts to people they have never met says a lot about our parish. Inviting perfect strangers into your homes takes a leap of faith and a special kind of courage; they delivered both with grace and style.

Other groups and families “hosted the hosts” and their Jamaican guests for their evening meals throughout the weekend.   It was a great service to many by a very special few.

We told our Jamaican guests that they were missionaries to Naples.  As they shared their energy, time, and talent on behalf of their fellow Jamaicans, they renewed our own energy, time, and talents on behalf of the very same people.

And aren’t we all lucky to have someone like Kevin Williams befriending our cause? What a great ambassador he is for Jamaica’s poor!
See all the photos here 

Christmas Tea 2014

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JOP Christmas Tea 2014

The poor in Jamaica will be blessed with net proceeds of over $5,900, as a result of the 7th annual JOP Christmas Tea, which was held Wednesday, December 3, 2014.  

Christmas Tea 2014

Christmas Tea 2014

287 people attended, which included a champagne reception, vendors, entertainment and the traditional tea, sandwiches, scones and sweets.

“The scones and food served by Here’s Howe were exceptional,” said Jeanne Stamant, event organizer.

Ten gentlemen served the guests champagne upon arrival or sold raffle tickets or photographed the event. Tom Palmeshan played Christmas music on the piano and Bob Lyons gave a Jamaican style to Christmas music on his steel drums. Donors of gifts made it possible for us to offer 4 valuable silent auction items and 28 lucky ladies won raffle prizes; 14 others won door prizes. Three vendors sold gifts, floral arrangements, jewelry or crafts and each donated a percentage of their sales to the charity. “The ballroom always looks so festive at this event” said one St John’s staff member.

Thank you to the committee, volunteers, and St John’s staff for helping to make this one of the most successful Tea’s yet. 

See all the photos here .

Dental Mission July 2014

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Roger Plante, JOP’s Dental Chairman, prepared this report on the July 2014 dental mission trip to the St. Pius X dental clinic in Kingston Jamaica.

A group of dental volunteers headed down to Jamaica on July 23, 2014.   After a quick stop at the market to procure personal items, the team headed right to the clinic to prepare for the following day’s work, and they were very busy unpacking supplies, setting up their work areas and in this case readying the new work station that was just installed (our fourth complete work station).   Each time a team arrives it is necessary to completely sanitize the work areas; in this case the clinic had been inactive since our March mission.   The group was housed at the Immaculate Conception hostel which was extremely safe and comfortable.

This dental team consisted of:   Dr. Eric from Macon, Georgia , Teri from Tampa, FL, Kruti from N.J., (who will soon be Dr. Kruti as she will be graduating from the dental program at Columbia University in NYC next month), Dental Hygienists Glenna from Tennessee and Sanibel Island, Roger Plante, group coordinator, Dr. Maria from Naples, who is a St. John the Evangelist parishioner, and Dr. Maria’s dental assistant Juana also from Naples. In addition, Jeanne Stamant who was at St. Pius to conduct her annual financial audit also joined in to lend a helping hand.

Thanks to the support of a generous donor, hygienists and assistants were again blessed to receive assistance towards their travel and housing expenses.

Each time I write one of these reports It boggles my mind to see how each volunteer group arrives, being from various religious denominations, from different parts of the country, from various ethnic backgrounds, yet they are all so filled with the enthusiasm to give and to help the lesser fortunate of God’s children; and this mission, and this team truly were no exception.   Each day Father Raphael came to bless the mission group —–sometimes just putting his hand on each of their shoulders as they worked which created a warm feeling of God’s presence.

Statistics for this mission are as follows: Cleanings 86, Extractions 64, Fillings 31, Number of patients treated 157, Number of treatments administered 281, Consultations 15, Students educated & screened 90, Number of patients placed in queue for September mission 54.

A huge “THANK YOU” goes out to Doctors Maria, and Eric, to Kruti, Glenna, Teri and Juanita for their untiring devotion to the cause………when 6:00 p.m. rolled around it was so apparent they were hoping this might be the last patient, only to find out there were four more cleanings, two more extractions and three more fillings…….and when I suggested putting them on tomorrow’s schedule, they all refused and insisted on taking care of all of them that day.

Following is an excerpt from an e-mail I received from one of the missionaries late Sunday after the team had headed home:

Once I got off the plane, I was overcome with emotion by what we had done.  It was hard to hold back tears just thinking about how much we gave of ourselves and the difference it made to the people of Jamaica.  I have never worked so hard in my life, maybe because the teeth were so difficult to get out. It was truly an emotional experience for me! I am still riding this rush that has come from helping those people and I feel like it has changed my perspective on life. 

Jamaica Outreach Program has more dental missions planned in the near future: September 10th through 4th, October 15-19, 2014, and November 19-23, 2014. Staffing for the November 2014 and March 2015 missions is complete, however we still need two dentists, and one assistant for the October mission (fully staffed with hygienists)…..we have many doctors nearly ready to commit for that and working on it each day.   We are seeking a full complement for the January mission.

For 2015, it is hoped that missions will take place in each of the odd numbered months of the year, and it is my hope that each team that comes agrees to continue their great endeavor on an annual basis….and so far it is working out that way.

Again, Jamaica Outreach Program thanks all who have been involved with this and our other ministries.

Corneal Transplant Program

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From its very beginning the Jamaica Outreach Program (JOP) has dedicated many mission trips to the eye clinic on the compound of St. Pius X in Kingston. Those trips are made possible through the service of the lay missionaries who visit there two or three times a year. The journey to improved sight is a long and involved process for those Jamaican patients who are in need of corneal transplant surgeries. This type of surgery is not available in Jamaica and therein lies an untold story about what the JOP does to make a difference in the lives of the people we meet at our clinics.

In August 2013, while working at the JOP eye clinic in Kingston, Dr. Jeffrey Zimm identified nine patients who would benefit from corneal transplant surgery. Since then, four of those patients have come to Naples and benefited from the transplants with Dr. Zimm  and his staff performing the surgeries at no charge and other out-of-pocket expenses paid by donor-sponsors (sometimes supplemented by the patient’s own fundraising efforts) . The process for these patients is a long one involving many people who help them along their way to a more perfect sight and a better life.

The following report has been submitted by Dr Zimm’s surgery coordinator, Alison Burberry:

When Dr Zimm identifies a patient who would benefit from a corneal transplant, the patient is then put on a priority list based on age and the severity of the problem. The need for a corneal transplant is usually from keratoconus (a corneal dystrophy), or infections causing scarring or trauma. Once the patient has been identified and the JOP has found a donor willing to fund the costs associated with the transplant, Dr. Zimm writes a letter to support the granting of a non-immigrant visa by the U.S. embassy in Kingston.

The average out-of-pocket cost of a transplant is $ 5,000. Corneal tissue is $3,200 and visa applications, air flights, post-op prescriptions and surgery center fees account for the rest of the cost. In many cases host families are arranged by the JOP for our patients who generally come for a 10-day stay. During that time, a patient is placed with host families for three or four days each. The hosts provide shelter, sustenance, and transportation for their guests. While in Naples, the patient undergoes a pre-operative exam, the surgery, and several post-operative exams by Dr Zimm.

In our dealings with Jamaicans, we have been impressed with their graciousness, patience, and gratitude. The entire surgical team is also impressed by the dedication of the JOP and its commitment to the eye care mission. We are fortunate to work hand in hand with them.

Anyone interested in serving as host for a future corneal transplant patient or interested donors are invited to contact us through this website.

Dental Volunteers Needed

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Jamaica Outreach Program needs dental professionals to volunteer for upcoming mission trips to Kingston, Jamaica.

We have a group from Atlanta, GA in place to conduct the September 10, 2014 dental mission trip, and a Springfield, MA Dental professional has come forward and agreed to organize and head up the November 19th. mission.   At present, we are half staffed for the July 23 mission trip and still in need of one dentist, one assistant and two additional hygienists.   The October 15th mission has a few hygienists and assistants offering their services and we are always looking for dental professionals to staff our future missions.   If any of you know of other dental professionals (family, friends and acquaintances) anywhere in the US who might be willing to give of their time and energy for this service, please refer them to me, Roger Plante, for follow-up.  Many will be needed to make future missions a success.  ( – 239-948-2145).

Dental Mission Report March 26, 2014

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Jamaica Outreach Program Dental Mission, March 26-30, 2014

Our dental team consisted of professionals from  Massachusetts, Montreal, Canada and Florida. They came to us through the grace of God and a little networking on our part.  Each of them worked tirelessly day after day to get the job done and at the end of the third ten hour day, they were still smiling (although very tired) and enjoying every minute of their venture.  They worked through brownouts, faulting equipment, and never lost their enthusiasm.

Interaction with the local Jamaican residents was incredible and the warmth of the smiles combined with the gratitude of the patients made it a highly rewarding endeavor for our volunteers.

In all 127 patients were treated.  (76 full cleanings, 26 fillings, 42 extractions, 10 surgical procedures plus 11 consultations which resulted in referrals to oral surgeons etc.)   Many received free medications for infection and pain, all received dental kits consisting of brushes, paste and floss donated by the missionaries.   Unfortunately, many had to be referred to our next dental mission because of our inability to handle the need.   All in all, we were rewarded by many smiling faces leaving the clinic.

In addition to the actual treatments, our hygienists conducted three educational sessions in the DuPont Primary School auditorium consisting of basic introduction to dental hygiene,  teeth checked for treatment needs (11 treated immediately  and 50 at a future date), and handing out toothbrushes, toothpaste and other items.  Approximately 308 students were involved and the sessions were very dynamic and extremely interactive.

We have a group from Atlanta, GA in place to conduct the September 10, 2014 dental mission trip, and a Springfield, MA Dental professional has come forward and agreed to organize and head up the November 19th. mission.   At present, we are half staffed for the July 23 mission trip and still in need of one dentist, one assistant and two additional hygienists.   The October 15th mission has a few hygienists and assistants offering their services and we are always looking for dental professionals to staff our future missions.   If any of you know of other dental professionals (family, friends and acquaintances) anywhere in the US who might be willing to give of their time and energy for this service, please refer them to me, Roger Plante, for follow-up.  Many will be needed to make future missions a success.  ( – 239-948-2145).

See mission trip photos here. Photos are limited because the Jamaica Ministry of Health no longer allows photos in health facilities.

Dr. Tom’s review of Optical mission Nov. 2013

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Dr. Tom’s Review of Nov. 2013 Optical Mission

Received Dec. 2, 2013 by Jamaica Outreach Program

It has been almost a month since we returned home from Jamaica.  Hardly a day goes by without thoughts of the St. Pius experience. It was a wonderful time with Jamaicans and  Americans working hand in hand to give caring, hope and the gift of sight to those less fortunate in the St Pius Community.  The day could not have started out any better with an excellent mass by Father Thomas.  The ride back home (the convent-hostel where we stayed) at day’s end stands out with that good feeling of tiredness that comes with knowing that everybody gave all that they could.  It was after we were physically and mentally drained that we could experience the simple joy of doing God’s work.  Thank you for allowing me to participate in this wonderful time.  I hope to make more trips in the future. -Tom K.

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