"First of all, I want to tell the Melbourne and Michael Folkes Foundation thanks for everything they have done. It means to me that I am going to be a good person and be respectful to everyone around me. It also encourages me to be a hardworking, caring and honest person. I will excel in my school work, my relationship with God and allow my true potential to shine. I believe in myself that anything is possible. I will be respectful to my mother and father so that my days can be long on this earth."
The Melbourne and Michael Folkes Foundation, named in honor of my grandfather, was launched on April 14th 2014 at the Mount Waddy Primary School in Friendship, Jamaica. However, its history is deeply rooted many, many years before that date.
When I was a child my mother left Friendship and my sister and I were raised by my grandfather and grandmother, Melbourne and Clementina Folkes. My grandfather was the greatest role model a boy could have, and his influence and his Christian faith still run in my blood.
He was such a strong, positive role model to me, an inspiration, so although I was to experience hunger, abuse and poverty, I refused to allow these things to hold me back. It was his support and example that gave me the determination to succeed through desperate times, and to want to extend the same kindness he’d shown me, and to others. As the Bible teaches,
‘As you did for one of the least of my brothers, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:40
As the years have gone by I have taken control of my own life and become successful by allowing my faith and my upbringing to guide me, and I have been told by many people that my story is an inspirational one. I have been thinking about leaving a legacy to help others and I thank my grandfather for his influence in giving me the strength of character that has remained with me from my youngest days.
‘Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.’ Proverbs 22:6
The Foundation's focus will be the health, well-being and education of children because the Foundation's history is rooted in my own childhood and the training I received from my grandfather. It is my hope that the Melbourne and Michael Folkes Foundation will honor my grandfather whilst supporting young people in working towards their own success, leading fulfilling lives and contributing to their communities.
So, although the Foundation has a launch date, it has been many years in the making, and this is only the beginning…
Michael A Folkes, Founder, Melbourne and Michael Folkes Foundation