Jamaica Awareness Association of California

OUR MISSION is to make a positive difference in the lives of the underprivileged and serve the needy in our local and international communities. As part of its growth process, JAAC has expanded its goals to promote Jamaican culture in a positive way, creating opportunities for cross-cultural interaction within the larger community.

OUR VISION is to work with the community at large in a joint effort to aid the less fortunate and also to have a better understanding of each other’s culture.

OUR GOAL is to promote awareness of and provide support to the underserved communities in the areas of health and education. We realize our goals by bringing the community together, increasing our active membership, and hosting several fundraising activities each year.

JAAC continually strives to improve its fundraising efforts through active group participation as well as on an individual basis. Its members treat each other with mutual respect and trust through honesty and candor as embodied in our Core Values.

In July 1987, a group of dedicated individuals, under the leadership of the late Mr. David Haughton, formed Jamaica Awareness Association of California. The other founding members include Wilcox Bodden, Keith R. Campbell, Errol Darnell, Phyllis Davis (deceased), Rose Lanam, Hope Miller, Dr. Marian Miller (deceased), Dane Kamou Herukhuti, Jackie Small, Sharon Small, Antonio Waite and Elise Waite-Waters. The primary objective of the organization is to make a positive difference in the lives of the underprivileged and serve the needy in our local and international communities. As part of its growth process, JAAC has expanded its goals to promote Jamaican culture in a positive way, creating opportunities for cross-cultural interaction within the larger community.

Our History



A grant from the City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department in 1992/1993, allowed JAAC to conduct an art competition that involved students at Dorsey and Crenshaw High Schools (in collaboration with Bernard Hoyes). The theme “Out of Many One People” was adopted to embody the spirit of the reconciliation efforts which were underway in the City after the 1992 riot. An exhibition of participants’ work was held at the Kenneth Hahn Building, County of Los Angeles, at the invitation of Supervisor Yvonne Braithwaite Burke.

In August 1993, JAAC hosted the JamCarib Fest in Pasadena. Many aspects of Caribbean Culture were featured at this festival; including food, music, dancing, fashion show, sports, and arts and crafts.



One of the high points for JAAC in 1995 was the visit of the Honorable Burchell Whiteman, Minister of Education, Youth and Culture. He was well received by the City of Los Angeles, the Inglewood School Board and Santa Monica City College. His message was very inspiring to many as he outlined his vision for Education in Jamaica. Since then, the organization was pleased to host Jamaican Ambassadors from Washington at the annual fundraising gala.




JAAC was also part of the AllState volunteers that participated in the local community “Helping Hands” 1999 and 2000 annual paint-a-house project in South Central, Los Angeles. JAAC also joined a coalition of Africans, West Indians and Americans to promote and register residents for the Census 2000. The effort proved instrumental in increasing the number of registrants for the Census. In that same year, JAAC received over three thousand books from Retired Congressman Mervyn Dymally, who was the catalyst for our involvement in the Census 2000.



 With a heightened awareness of community goodwill, JAAC began an outreach effort in its local environment that included a contribution to the Zenith Youth Home; a home that helps youths with problems of juvenile delinquency. This home was destroyed by fire, and there was a need for supplies and equipment. Another early outreach effort included a donation to the Inglewood/Port Antonio Sister City Youth Exchange Program, when it decided to send several youth to Jamaica to experience the culture. As time progressed, the organization was provided with many opportunities to exercise its charitable goals. In the aftermath of Hurricane Gilbert, JAAC banded together with business and community leaders to collect food, clothing and other items, and with the cooperation of American Airlines, sent several shipments to Jamaica. In 2006, we joined forces with other organizations in soliciting support for donations toward the relief efforts after Hurricane Ivan.


Over the years, JAAC has taken on various holiday charities and has provided toys, food and financial assistance to the local community. In addition, JAAC has responded to many requests for assistance from groups and individuals within and outside the local communities.



 The year 2000 saw the launch of the healthcare program when in June, a team of twenty-three healthcare volunteers visited the parish of Trelawny, Jamaica, where they served four clinics by offering dental, ophthalmological, pediatric and general health care as well as health education services. The surgery team continues to get island-wide recognition with the laparoscopy seminar and training program. Since 2004, training has been conducted each year at the Annotto Bay Hospital, and preceptorships now span various hospitals in all three counties. JAAC volunteers also conduct local health fairs in Los Angeles to bring awareness of hypertension, heart disease and diabetes.


The Surgery Team of JAAC was first established in June of 2003. Preparation for the mission began several months ahead of departure time. Considerable time was spent collecting packaging and preparing equipment and other donations for shipment to Jamaica in advance of the mission. Significant donations of equipment and supplies were received from Thousand Oaks surgical hospital, Los Robles Medical Ctr., Simi Valley Hospital, Dr. Helmuth T. Billy, and many other donors. These donations allowed us to upgrade the laparoscopic equipment in both operating theaters at Annotto Bay Hospital.



JAAC’s scholarship program was formally introduced in 1989 when, Lovena Hamilton, a student of Excelsior Education Center, Kingston, and Karen M. Daley, a student of Hampton, St. Elizabeth, were selected to receive awards of $1,000 each. Subject to performance, the scholarships were renewed each year for a five-year period. Since its implementation, the scholarship program has expanded to include more students at the high school level in Jamaica, and local students at the college level. With the tragic loss of the organization’s Vice President in 2002, a scholarship was established in her honor. The Enid Davis scholarship is awarded to deserving students in Jamaica. JAAC re-named the local scholarship program in memory of organization founder, David Haughton who passed away in 2010.


Since 1998, a primary focus has been the contribution of computer labs to elementary schools in Jamaica. This initiative was in response to appeals from Jamaica’s Prime Minister, Hon P. J. Patterson, to ensure that the Jamaican youth is equipped with the technology to function in the 21st Century. Each year the team sets up computer labs in various elementary schools. JAAC’s goal is to increase educational opportunities for talented and economically at risk young people who might not otherwise continue their education. Since 2010, the team incorporated a computer training session for teachers during the annual trips.

Yasmine Facey

Martine Hall

Claudette Hecker

Claudette Coleman

Andrew Facey

Arthur Leo Gilling

Sharon Small

Marcia Foster McBean

Jackie Small

Marilyn Bennett