Building on a solid foundation
Gina Spence Productions is gearing up for its thirteenth back-to-school uniform drive, providing children in need with school uniforms and supplies for the start of the new academic year.
Gina Spence, founder of the charity, has been working with at-risk children and families for several years.
What began at Parson's Road playground in response to the immediate need in that community, has grown over the years into the Each One Reach One programme and has assisted families across the island with back-to school preparations.
The campaign has always been close Ms Spence's heart, having lived through hard times of her own.
She said: “This project is very personal to me, as I can truly relate to the struggle many parents have in purchasing school uniforms and getting their children ready for school.
“I was a single mother of three raising my daughters. It was very hard, especially getting them ready for school each year.
“I worked three jobs and still found it difficult with the cost of living, mortgage, electricity, and food. I prayed and worked hard to provide for my girls, but it was not easy. I remember feeling totally overwhelmed at times and thank God for the help and support of family and friends. God has always made a way for me and my girls.”
Ms Spence is now preparing to pass the torch of the Each One Reach One programme to her daughter, Mychel Jones, who has been working with her over the past few years.
“I believe it's important to pass the legacy of faith, compassion and helping others on to my daughter, Mychel, especially during these difficult times. All that God has poured into me, I am now pouring into Mychel.
“I thank God that Mychel has the desire and strong faith to take the vision, mission, and mandate of Gina Spence Productions forward.
“God has well equipped her; she knows how to pray and study the word of God. She understands what it's like to be on the frontline of grassroots ministry outside of the four walls of the church.”
Ms Spence added: “I pray that other leaders will be encouraged and led to train up their children to take their legacy and life's work from generation to generation.
“I pray that young people who have parents who have businesses, charities and ministries will see the important role that they can fill in carrying their family's legacy forward. It requires sacrifice, hard work and dedication. There is no greater feeling than a parent who can see, through their children, that their legacy will live on.”
Ms Jones is equally as excited to carry on her mother's legacy and continue providing this valuable service to her community.
She said: “It is truly an honour to carry the legacy and vision in which my mother has worked and sacrificed to provide. Everyone knows and loves Gina Spence for her advocacy for those who don't have a voice.
“It is important to me that long after she has passed, our community will still have a voice that can feel and understand their challenges and advocate on their behalf. I'm very much excited to build on this foundation while staying true to our mission and vision.”
“Growing up, our living room was the very place persons and families in need found safety and support. We didn't have much, however, she always gave, with no conditions and no judgments. I believe the way she serves our community is truly a gift and ministry that God gave her. Looking back, I can truly say that a great portion of my faith was influenced by her from the very beginning.”
This year, because of the restrictions in place as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the programme has had to shift its model from using recycled clothing, and, instead, is endeavouring to raise enough funds to be able to provide brand new uniforms to their clients.
“At first, we were not sure if we would be able to do the campaign this year, due to the many challenges charities, and families, are facing due to the financial impact the pandemic has had on the community. We prayed and then met with Gibbons Company to revise a whole new strategy to meet this year's need — as we were not able to do the uniform recycling programme due to Covid-19.”
The drive is set to be held next Saturday and, so far, the response from the community has been strong.
“I am proud to say since our launch just over two weeks ago we have had a great response from our corporate, business and individual donors in our community,” Ms Spence said. “The donations are coming in steadily; however, we have not reached our goal yet.”
Aside from assisting the physical needs of families, this campaign is very much concerned with reaching the community and meeting their spiritual needs as well.
“The Each One Reach One campaign allows us to truly minister to our community by meeting their needs. Often, we pray with our parents and encourage them to stay strong and trust God. However, God has called persons and organisations like ours to meet the tangible needs of our community.
“Every year God has provided. He can do more than we can ask or even imagine, every year we set a financial goal to raise the funds needed to help our families in need and every year God surpasses it.”
• The Each One Reach One campaign is co-sponsored this year by Conyers Dill & Pearman, AEON, Deloitte, The Oil Group of Companies, Mediaville, One Communications, Anointed Steps Dance Ministry School, Eye Of The Eagle Productions and Gibbons Company. Anyone interested in making a donation towards the Each One Reach One campaign are encouraged to visit www.ginaspenceproductions.com or call 296-0016