A Florida Man’s Legacy is Transforming Lives in a Jamaican Countryside
COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (May 21, 2013) – Compassion, philanthropy, and love of family are making the educational experience a healthy and safe learning environment for dozens of students in Steerfield, St. Ann, Jamaica. For more than a decade, 3- to 6-year-olds have attended school in the Steerfield Community Center, which had no kitchen, no sick bay and no private bathrooms. It was overcrowded, unbearably hot and infested with wasps.
Steerfield, a rural community that sits in a valley, is located some 30 miles from the iconic tourist destination of Ocho Rios. Last week, many from the local region and from the United States attended the much anticipated inauguration of the town’s one and only new school. In attendance was the South Florida businessman who helped to make the dream of a new place to learn a reality through the international relief and development organization Food For The Poor.
Jeff Levitetz’s bond with the Caribbean island began more than two decades and two dozen trips ago. A successful businessman, Levitetz founded Purity Wholesale Grocers, Inc. in 1982. The once small independent company in the Midwest is now a nationwide network of companies and is headquartered in Boca Raton, Fla. The Levitetz Family Foundation funded the school project.
“I love Jamaica and the people of Jamaica. I am very, very proud to be giving back by way of Food For The Poor,” said Jeff Levitetz, CEO of Purity Wholesale Grocers, Inc. “This school will help many children, who will learn to help themselves, who in time will grow up and help others. I am very excited for that reason.”
The very name of the new facility, Steerfield Basic School in Honor of Grandpa Charlie, has a story behind it. Charles ‘Grandpa Charlie’ Levitetz, was Jeff’s grandfather. He was born in 1897 and raised on the West Side of Chicago, and like his grandson, was also a successful businessman who believed in giving back. He and his brothers owned a commercial laundry and were considered pioneers of the trade. Grandpa Charlie died in1994 at the age of 96, but the way he lived his life made an impression on Jeff, who in many ways, is very much like the man he admired.
“It was only fitting that the Levitetz Family Foundation would build a school in Jamaica in honor of my grandfather,” said Levitetz. “My grandfather and the great-grandfather of my two sons was a wonderful mentor, especially for me. He had a kind heart, a glowing smile and he loved people – he was my best friend.”
Food For The Poor has committed to build or upgrade 50 basic schools within 50 months in celebration of Jamaica’s 50th Anniversary of Independence, which was Aug. 6, 2012. Each basic school constructed will have an office, sick bay, kitchen, bathroom/sanitation, and one large classroom that can be subdivided into three learning spaces. There’s an average capacity of 40 students per school, but depending on the size of the structure, up to 100 students could be in attendance. There’s typically one teacher and a teacher’s assistant in the smaller schools, and three or more in the larger schools.
“Words cannot express the gratitude we have for our donors, such as the Levitetzes. They are the ones who are making this monumental goal to build 50 schools possible. Since last August, we’ve completed 10 school projects in Jamaica,” said Robin Mahfood, President/CEO of Food For The Poor. “These schools are a great blessing to so many of Jamaica’s children now, and for many years to come. I am thankful we are a part of this lasting legacy.”
Food For The Poor, named by The Chronicle of Philanthropy as the largest international relief and development organization in the nation, does much more than feed millions of the hungry poor in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian ministry provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicines, educational materials, homes, support for orphans and the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance, with more than 95 percent of all donations going directly to programs that help the poor. For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.
Food For The Poor
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