2017 Annual Report

We believe that Jah Works, Inc. is a conduit for moving resources from those who can give them, to those that need them most – and believe our financials should reflect that.

When we found ourselves starting fresh this past year within the non-profit sector AND as a stand-alone organization, we wanted to leverage a solid financial foundation for how much of your generous donations should go towards giving back to others, while still being able to sustain the organization for the long-term.

We decided to track against three goals that Charity Navigator outlines: Program Expenses, Administrative Expenses and Fundraising Expenses. (As an aside, they are a great source for checking the legitimacy of any non-profit organization.)

According to their published metrics, the “best” charities are spending 85% or more of their annual expense towards programs, 15% or less on administrative costs to run the business, and 10% or less on fundraising.

We are happy to report that for Year-End 2017, we were right in line with where Charity Navigator says we should be:

  • Program Expenses: $5,822 Total (95.2% of total expense)
  • Administrative Expenses: $278 (4.5% of total expense)
  • Fundraising Expenses: $19 (0.2% of total expense)

*For full transparency, once it’s submitted we’ll add our 990 form, a filing required by the IRS for all registered 501(c) 3 organizations.

Thank you for trusting us to help those who need it most. We are looking forward to a new year full of connecting people and building sustainable communities!

Wishing you and yours a rewarding 2018.

One Love, Y’all.

A Laundry List…

At our last speaking engagement to share stories about Jamaica, we also read aloud this list of “things” we were able to do, donate or accomplish during the trip. As you read through this “laundry list”, think about it as people’s lives who are touched – not just “stuff” that happened.

So, for every item below, remember that AT LEAST ONE person was shown love, given hope, prayed over, etc. I estimate at least 3000 people will feel the effects of the recent work we were able to accomplish either directly or indirectly. All because of our readers’ (that’s you!!) continued prayerful and financial support, which enables us to “go forth” and show Jah’s love to people!! Awesome!!

  • VBS Day 1 – 105 children, 15 workers
  • VBS Day 2 – 120 children, 15 workers
  • Snacks and lunch for all at VBS
  • 1 suitcase of school supplies
  • 1 suitcase of VBS supplies for church
  • 1 suitcase of children’s books
  • 1 suitcase of children’s and adult clothing
  • 2 first aid kits
  • 22 Bibles
  • 2 pairs of workgloves to local farmer
  • 4 pairs of workgloves to Community Center
  • 1 basketball
  • 3 pairs of tennis shoes
  • Supported (5) artisans by purchasing their handmade carvings, jewelry, paintings, soaps and cloth goods
  • Stayed locally in a family-owned guesthouse
  • Ate locally at small establishments for lunches – Delbert’s, Robert’s, Prince’s and Omar’s
  • Employed six for a week’s work – Decieta (tour guide/chef); Mike (security); Chevie (security); Keith (driver); Veda (chef); Jen-Jen (chef);
  • Put up (7) anti-child abuse signs in the community;
  • (2) $500 university scholarships,
  • (1) $300 secondary school scholarship;
  • $600 for school needs
  • $500 for materials to finish work at Community Center

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Not listed here is the actual refurbishing work we did at the Bluefields People’s Community Association’s Community Center. More to come on that project soon! Stay tuned!

Bluefields Basic School Rainwater Catchment System Installation

Just a couple weeks ago, T.J. and I found ourselves blessed to be “on the ground” again in Bluefields, Jamaica.  We were thrilled that Kim (trip #2 for her) and Justin (first-timer!) joined us too! We went for respite (AKA vacation!) but also to search out new opportunities for future work projects, swing a couple proverbial hammers on the water catchment system at the school, and continue to build relationships with our Jamaican friends.

We got in on a Friday morning, and by Wednesday were all rested up from “life” and ready to work. Wolde picked us up at about 6:45AM (sunrise in Jamaica is consistently a few minutes before 6AM!! It’s always the BIGGEST change for me, lol), and we headed up the hill to the new school. Our job was to get the guttering and PVC piping installed so when the tank arrived later in the week, it’d be ready to hook up. Once onsite, we put the homemade wooden ladder up against the wall and started screwing on the brackets for the gutter, using battery-powered Dewalt drills (nice!). These were plastic gutters, and pretty easy to just clip into the brackets once they were on the wall. We got the first 16-foot section installed, and decided it’d be a good idea to test it before going much further. Stellar idea!! A half-filled salmon-colored bucket was handed up the ladder, we tossed it’s contents high up on the roof and WHOOSH, all the water poured down the zinc roofing directly OVER the top of the gutter and onto Veda, drenching her completely. We laughed and laughed…and quickly decided we would need to add spacers behind the brackets to get the gutters at the right distance to actually CATCH the water, as the name of the project suggests. Well, you can’t plan for everything, I suppose.

About the same time as the “test”, we realized that we didn’t have all the guttering pieces and parts that were needed to completely go across the back of the school. We needed about four or five lengths of gutter and had two, and also needed longer screws since we would now be using spacers. Now, in Jamaica, there’s not necessarily a Lowe’s Home Improvement, Home Depot, or Webster Brothers (our local family-owned Ace Hardware) right around the corner. Nope. You will find yourself driving about 25 minutes in one direction (on a good day) to get to the hardware store. I know you Americans living way on up in the Appalachian mountains can relate!! But for us “city-folk” – wowzers! That’s an hour plus of downtime! What do you do with all that!? Well, for us, we made spacers out of scrap wood found around the school, and used the handful of long screws that we DID have to go ahead and mount the brackets onto, so they were ready to be installed when the rest of the supplies arrived. With the rest of the time we had, we waited. And waited. And let the crazy-busy life of living in the United States filter out of us minute by minute. It’s not everyday in our “normal” American lives that it’s OK to sit back in the middle of  a job and just DO NOTHING. So that’s what we did – and we did nothing but fellowship and hang out with friends. (and in all that doing nothing, Veda’s shirt was almost dry in the heat of the Jamaican atmosphere).

Soon enough, the van arrived with the rest of the parts and pieces, plus patties and juice for a snack!! If you’ve never had a Jamaican patty, they are pretty dang good. It’s basically a pastry, sort-of like an old-fashioned fried apple pie – but filled with a meat or veggie mixture and sometimes even cheese! YUM! We ate up, and worked to finish installing the rest of the guttering. This got knocked out pretty quickly, once we had all the parts and pieces! At the same time, some of the folks from the school were moving all the stuff from the old school at the bottom of the hill and down the road, to this new school, trying to get everything in place and ready to open school in September. When we weren’t installing gutter, we were helping unload the pick-up truck and bring everything into the school. The old school was four small wooden buildings in somewhat disrepair, with no indoor plumbing. The new school is a block building, brightly painted, with tile floors, three large classrooms, vaulted ceilings, fluorescent lighting, a full kitchen, plenty of storage, a nurse’s station AND indoor plumbing with the install of this Rainwater Catchment System!

We also were able to bring with us a whole suitcase full of school supplies, generously donated by friends and family, to provide a good start to the school year for those children whose parents struggle with making ends meet.

As we are back in the US as this project continues towards completion…here are some words from Wolde Kristos, Founder and President at Bluefields Bay Fishermen’s Friendly Society, about how this project is coming together:

“We have implemented solar at the new Bluefields Basic School. This will give us basic lighting for most of the school. We still need the Jamaica Public Service (JPS), service to run other equipments, therefore we have engaged JPS for sponsorship and we have <been> given a great offer. The total cost for JPS to implement the project is JA$2.5 million (about $25,000 US) and we are only required to pay JA$633,000 (about $6,330 US).  JPS will be putting in 1,300 feet of high tension wire to supply electricity to the school. We also got a water pump that uses gas from Food for the Poor. We will be using it to pump potable water over 1,000 feet to fill the tank that holds 2,000 gallons. Thanks to Building Jamaica Project, Food for the Poor, Anthropology Club at Missouri State University and RAJ TOURS. Thank you for your financial contributions because without it we could not have made this possible”

I think we can chalk this up to another “Building Jamaica” success! Thank you, readers, for your continued support and partnership in this project and others taken on by the team. If you would like to take action today – dollars are still needed to run complete power to the school; US residents can make tax-deductible donations (all $ amounts are appreciated!) by clicking on the “Donate” button on the blog and entering “Bluefields Basic School Power” in the memo line. Your donations will be sent immediately to help fund the remaining power project.

Stay tuned, as the next Building Jamaica project is just on the horizon!

Bluefields Basic School Water Project

As you can see in this post from the Bluefields Bay Friendly Fisherman’s Society, the Bluefields Basic School is close to completion and almost ready for the kids to start attending and learning good things. However, there is currently a need to install a Solar-Powered Rainwater Catchment System which will run off of solar energy. This will allow the system to be “off the grid” and also make re-use of the rainwater to flush toilets and pipe through to sink faucets.

We are utilizing the “Donate” button on the blog to start funding this project! Make your donation today, and then pass a link along to a friend! Even a small donation of $1 will help move this project towards completion! Share it far and wide so we can get these kids some running water!

The details:

Purpose: Build a water catchment system that will enable the Bluefields Basic Primary School to have running water in an eco-friendly way. Although there are natural springs in the area, it is difficult in this mountainous terrain to pipe in water to larger structures without placing a strain on the naturally available resources. The system will be solar-powered and reuse rainwater to provide running water to the school.

Fundraising Goal: $4,000 by March 9th, 2013.

FAQ

  • How will my donation be used? The funds will be used to purchase materials to build the water catchment system. This includes water tanks, piping, pumping systems, solar panels, battery and converter.
  • Is my donation tax-deductible? Yes. Funds will be processed by Morris Chapel United Methodist Church, LLC, which is a registered 501c3 organization.

Thank you for your support!!

First Reflections…

We thought it would be kind of fun to share some of the things we learned while in Jamaica. Here’s a brief compilation ~ Enjoy 🙂

Take the “one love” saying to heart. When you have less food, clothes, tools, etc. it is easier to share. It’s like we are one big family and should truly support each other. Love and Respect one another. We are all family! Slow down and enjoy the here & now and God’s beauty that surrounds us every day, no matter where you are. I learned that star gazing in NC pales in comparison to star gazing in Jamaica. They are spectacular there!! Don’t be in hurry. Take it easy. I love hearing the music everywhere! They put their hearts into it and I really admire that. Learn to adjust what ever come your way. PATIENCE (slow down, smell the roses, sing more!) Take it one day at a time, and totally enjoy yourselves. People are so nice there, and are willing to help. Even “machete-man” seemed to be a nice person!!

The local cuisine is delicious. Jerk is amazing. Beware the lionfish – their spikes are venomous, but they sure are tasty! Put on your plate only as much as your are going to eat, nothing goes to waste. A cheese patty is really a beef and cheese patty and you can buy these at the local hardware store in Belmont. And, Webster Brothers Hardware (our local NC family owned hardware store) could sell patties and cocobread and make a fortune. Our resident vegetarian learned that she loves lionfish and tofu (when prepared Veda-style) but doesn’t care for goat.

Lisa, Michele and Sharon with our “early arrivers” on the last day of VBS 2012.

Kids are the same there as here. They want love and attention. Jamaican children need a Bible for school and notebooks for church. A Bible is on their school book list and they bring notebooks to church to take notes. I like it that they need Bibles for school. I wish our schools did.

Potholes are a way of life – you either dodge them, jump them, or go right over them, but either way you are over the holes and bumps in the road before you know it! Jamaican taxi drivers constantly work toward their PHD’s – Pot Hole Dodgers!

Kim, Allison and Jenn taking shelter under an overhang. The “mudding” had just begun.
John and Tim determined the length of a board while Jenn looks on. By the end of the day, we were muddy from head to toe.

Enjoy the unique experiences. After a heavy rain and windstorm on one of the worksites one day, we were covered head to toe in sticky mud. Therefore, the “Muddy Americans” had to find a different way home. They can’t ride in your clean car, they must walk home through the village footpaths, down the hill and then jump into the sea to wash before coming into the clean house.  Also, if Usain Bolt ran for President of Jamaica, he would win by a landslide!! Our first Jamaican experience was eating at an outdoor porch-type restaurant in MoBay, watching the Olympics Men’s 400m relay where Jamaica won the gold and annihilated the existing world record. The place erupted, and didn’t let up from the time the race started until WELL after the race was finished.

Loaves and Fishes

Brandon and Sharon cooked breakfast for the crew before heading out to work for the day on Tuesday. On the menu was bacon, toast with melted canned cheese (think Velveeta, but saltier) and scrambled eggs. Each day, the teams have split up in the morning between Vacation Bible School and the work project. Logistically, it has been difficult to get twelve people going in two directions at one time, and there is always somewhere else to stop along the way, whether the hardware store, grocery store, community center, or a friend’s house to borrow a much needed hacksaw and an extra blade.  There are no 24-hour stores, Wal-Mart, fast food or anything borne of convenience in this part of the country.  There’s barely anything like that even in the cities we’ve visited.

Compared to North Carolina, it’s kind of like living up in Appalachia, where your neighbors ask you what you need from the store before going on their weekly run down the mountain. Except here it’s always hot, food doesn’t keep and it’s usually purchased from the “lady down the road who has the eggs” or the “man at the bottom of the hill with the goats”. Seriously, it’s pretty stress relieving to get out of the fast pace of “convenience” and catch up with reality, take time to get to know people and take care of others in the community around you.

On another note, the common theme over the past couple days that we have all experienced in one way or another is the story in Scripture of the loaves and fishes. If you don’t know, when Jesus was teaching and preaching around the country, multiple times, there were many people that followed Him around. The disciples would always be worried about how they would feed the masses, and Jesus always said – “hey look, why don’t you trust me? I’ve always made sure everyone was fed before. Don’t you think I’ll come through this time too?” And miraculously, 5 loaves and 3 fishes would multiply to feed 5,000, with leftovers to spare.

This is one of the stories we’ve taught at Vacation Bible School this week. Some of our “loaves and fishes” moments happen there, and some on the worksite. At VBS, we’ve prepared a snack for the children, never knowing how many to expect. Yesterday, we had a Cheerios and raisins mix and handed out every single snack we prepared. Or, so we thought. Today at VBS for snack, we made popcorn mixed with Fruit Loops, Trail Mix and Skittles. One girl asked if we had something else (she couldn’t eat popcorn) and there was ONE bag of snack from the day before that had ended up in our snacks for today. Nobody knows how it happened because we were slap-out of snacks the day before, but we’ll just call it a loaves and fishes moment.

The work project team saw plenty of their own loaves and fishes moments as well. They seemed to run out of 2×4’s about midday and they were a main staple in the construction of this house. Every time someone would say “hey, any 2×4’s left?” they didn’t think there were, and after a quick search they would find one that was the right length and perfect for what they needed. The same thing happened with nails, plywood and tools too. If someone was looking for a square or saw, someone would “randomly” drive up to let us borrow it. While there are more detailed stories to tell, we’ll finish off this post with some before and after pictures of our first work project – Sandra’s house.

Before
After

Welcome to Jamaica

Greetings from Bluefields, Jamaica! Everything’s irie! (that pretty much means “good”). Yesterday we landed at the Montego Bay airport after a long day of travel. Once the whole team arrived (we were on separate flights), we boarded the bus and headed to the nearest jerk stand for our first authentic taste of Jamaica. The place we ended up at had TV’s; all of them tuned into the Olympics, with the Men’s final 400 m relay race coming up soon. We finished our lunches in anticipation of the race. We noticed the place filling up with people, also awaiting the start…and then it came.

You have to understand, that Jamaicans are PROUD of their country and PROUD of their teams. They won 12 medals in he Olympics this year…pretty impressive for a country of 3.5 million and many hardships. At each pass of the baton, the crowd’s volume went up a notch. Jamaica and USA were neck in neck, until the last pass of the baton to Usain Bolt, when he took off ahead of the pack to win the gold medal for Jamaica and break a world record. The place exploded in a fervor of cheers, trashcan lids banging, and people jumping up and down. I have never seen or heard anything like it, and it was pretty overwhelming as our official “Welcome” to a new place.

Each morning and night we have a devotion and team reflection time. If you can pray for us, tonight the team asks for prayers for:

  • Karen’s wellness tomorrow
  • Team strength – physically, mentally, emotionally, and as a group
  • Our new family (Wolde, Joy, Wolde, Jr., Veda, Myrna, Michael and Dion) who are taking care of us this week.
  • All the people we meet starting work tomorrow
  • That we have a prosperous day in spreading the word of Jesus Christ.
  • That our teams stay safe with no injuries or bee stings
  • The Mundy family
  • Our families and friends back home.

More to come,we have been to church today, met some people in the community and start work tomorrow. So many stories to tell, and it is only Day 2!