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Saturday 19 October 2019
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Freely giving a helping hand

Courts Heroes: Jeselle Cox

Founder of the Freely Give foundation Jeselle Cox poses with primary school pupils during one of her foundation's school outreach sessions.
Founder of the Freely Give foundation Jeselle Cox poses with primary school pupils during one of her foundation's school outreach sessions.

ONLINE voting continues in the Courts TT Heroes Initiative, which seeks to recognise “the selfless giving and work” of the people who are making a difference in the lives of others.

Eight finalists have been selected from an initial 30 nominees for their contributions to society. Today we feature Jeselle Cox of the Freely Give foundation. Voting continues until October 9.

TYRELL GITTENS

THERE is a school of thought which says, “The circumstances and events that we see as setbacks are often the very things that launch us into periods of intense spiritual growth.”

There is no truer reflection of this statement than Courts Heroes nominee Jeselle Cox of the Greenvale community who found the courage to give freely after being unemployed for three years.

Referring to that period as the inspiration behind the development of her non-profit foundation Freely Give, Cox said, “I believe that God used that period to birth Freely Give in me.

“After being unemployed this was my way of giving God thanks for all that he would have done for me and my family.”

About the foundation’s mission she said, “We provide social intervention programmes like counselling, a homework centre in Longdenville and food distribution.”

The foundation’s work is done by volunteers in the communities where it operates and students of the UWI’s Faculty of Science and Technology. It has been active since its registration in 2013 and has not only been fuelled by a strong sense of volunteerism amongst its 20-strong members, but it has also found corporate support from Republic Bank, Atlantic, JMMB, the Police Credit Union, Massy Foundation and PriceSmart.

Speaking about the foundation’s outreach Cox said, “I believe in helping and giving what is in my cupboard.” It is this principle that guides Freely Give’s goal of providing intervention services to people with a special focus on children.

Courts Heroes nominee Jeselle Cox

Freely Give operates in Arima, Marabella, Port of Spain and Gasparillo, however, Cox envisions the effort making a wider impact nationwide.

“The long-term goal is to have numerous family intervention centres established throughout TT.” Cox holds a certificate in social work and this goal is especially near to her heart given her vision of wanting to see children growing up in homes where parents possess proper parenting skills. “Early intervention is important to preventing secondary adversities,” she stressed.

Jeselle Cox interacts with a pupil during one of the sessions of her foundation's homework centre.

Her ability to be a source of comfort for those in distress was put to the test in October 2018 when her Greenvale community was devastated by floods. Without hesitation, she sprung into action. “I turned my house temporarily into a relief centre.”

With the assistance of relatives and her church members she provided assistance and relief to affected residents by providing clothing and food. In addition, she gave meals to first responders throughout the flood relief efforts.

Willing to go even further, she considered making her home a refuge for displaced residents but the plans did not come to fruition.

Cox received assistance from UNICEF in June to work with the children of Venezuelan migrants. That project was birthed as she saw the need for a compassionate response to the ongoing migrant situation. The children are treated to art and craft activities, field trips and English classes.

Inspired by her parents’ strength and assistant commissioner of police Joanne Archie, the work of Cox and the Freely Give foundation has only now begun. She is already seeking assistance to establish a children’s home to be named after her late great aunt, Edna Smart, who, she said, “Was the person I turned to for advice.”

Jeselle Cox with European Union Ambassador Arend Biesebroek.

With her nomination for the Courts Heroes award and the newfound attention her foundation is gaining, Cox is keeping rooted in her purpose. Though she admits the attention is “a new feeling” she said it has provided a renewed sense of encouragement. Above all, she does not want people to overthink about giving to the less fortunate as she said, “In giving freely you shall receive.”

To vote for this nominee, visit https://unicomercourtscaribbean.wishpond.com/courtsheroes/

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