When the games are over, the players join forces to build their community of Victoria in Linstead, St Catherine.
Their group, Top Shelf Domino Team, kicked off its civic mission on February 12, de-bushing the community’s entrance and giving its welcome sign and entrance bridge a much-needed facelift.
“A passerby with a tractor also assisted in grading off parts of the road,” said Shalene Harris, also called Judeen, who co-founded the group.
The project has been embraced by the community. Dixon’s Drug Store in Linstead, for example, sponsored the renovation of the welcome sign.
Regarding the genesis of the Top Shelf group, Harris explained that she and some Victoria men often gather at a bar in the community to play games of domino. They eventually attended a tournament and were pleasantly surprised to see other teams well organized and decked out in jerseys.
Inspired by that observation, the domino players returned to Victoria and started adding structure to their operation. In addition to acquiring jerseys, they appointed people to fill different positions such as manager, secretary and accountant. They also formulated a WhatsApp group for instant communication.
“It didn’t stop there,” Harris noted. “We wanted to uplift the community through the domino.”
She reached out to a few people of influence in the community and they came onboard. Among them is Stephen Groucher, a former Jamaica Defence Force soldier, who is now manager of the Top Shelf group.
He told The Beacon that he’s excited about making a positive difference in his community instead of twiddling his thumbs and watching indefinitely if politicians will get the work done.
“I see where the district has run down and a lot of things are at a state of disrepair and are in need of some attention… There used to be a lot of crime here, but I told residents that all is not lost because everywhere you check there is crime. The stigma that is attached to Victoria cannot be removed unless the people move it,” he said.
The unity among the group of Victoria domino players, Groucher explained, was what motivated him to join the community-based mission. He knew too well the wonders unity can create.
“I told them, ‘do not wait until the conditions are prefect to begin making a positive difference because beginnings make conditions perfect’. And they bought into that,” Groucher added.
He expressed gratitude for the support that the group’s first project received, noting that many more people would have participated if they were aware of it.
“The residents are happy for the first project and are onboard for the next one,” Groucher declared.
Mark Demetrius, manager at Dixon’s Drug Store, which sponsored the facelift of the welcome sign, told The Beacon: “It’s always a pleasure to uplift communities in and around Linstead as they have been the reason Dixon’s Drug Store has maintained its place as the leading and preferred pharmacy for years. We are committed to continuing this tradition and see it as a privilege to work with others such as Top Shelf as we strive to make our communities not only safe but beautiful.”
The next Top Shelf projects will be done at Victoria Basic School and Victoria Community Centre.
“We are trying to make even the learning space for the youth a better place so it would give them a sense of hope,” Groucher said. “I want to get the people of Victoria thinking that there is no end in sight for the progress of our community.”
Top Shelf also noted its thrust to get more members of the private sector involved not only to sponsor projects, but to also network with young people of the community who are in need of jobs and guidance. To further engage the young people, the group is also mulling the formulation of football and netball teams.
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