Soon a pair of orphanages in a rural section of Jamaica will provide safe homes for 70 boys and girls while also paying tribute to the late Basilian Father Joseph Trovato, longtime professor and first chaplain at St. John Fisher College in Pittsford.
Local charity Eight 4 World Hope has set out to raise $300,000 to fund the construction and development of the orphanages, one of which was designed by Hughan Reid, a teacher at Rochester’s East High School. This facility will be named the Father Joseph Trovato C.S.B. Home for Boys and will be located in Jamaica’s St. Ann Parish. Likewise, a key feature of the Annie Dawson Home for Children will be the Father Joseph Trovato C.S.B. Center, which will provide space for the girls who live in the home to participate in educational and social activities, said Deacon Kevin Carges, one of the founders of Eight 4 World Hope.
The orphanages “will be a great tribute to Father Joe’s legacy of love and compassion, particularly since each of them will have a Christian focus,” Deacon Carges remarked, noting that Father Trovato had been an honorary member of Eight 4 World Hope’s board of directors.
Deacon Carges and six of his fellow 1984 St. John Fisher graduates founded Eight 4 World Hope in 2009, and since then, the charity has funded the construction or improvement of several schools in impoverished communities in Jamaica. The organization had raised $50,000 for the current project by late March, Deacon Carges said.
“We’ve been very successful in building and renovating schools throughout the country for the past 10 years, but these are our first orphanage projects,” said Deacon Carges, who also serves at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Mendon.
The Annie Dawson Home for Children currently houses 30 girls ranging in age from 5 to 18 years old, Deacon Carges said. The orphanage currently leases space in a building in Kingston that is up for sale and doesn’t adequately meet the home’s needs, he said.
The Father Joseph Trovato C.S.B. Home for Boys, meanwhile, is currently in the early stages of construction. This home is the brainchild of Reid, who was born in a rural farming community in Jamaica and moved to Rochester as a teenager in 1989. He has called Rochester home ever since but has never forgotten his roots. Until the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, he frequently travelled back to Jamaica, both to visit family and to help build homes and support schools in impoverished neighborhoods.
“I could have easily been in that same situation as many of those kids,” Reid told the Catholic Courier. “I always look back to my foundation, to my roots, because one minute you could be up, and another minute you could be down. You just never know. Always count your blessings.”
Reid does more than count his blessings, however. For the past few years, he has been channeling his gratitude into a project he called Reid’s House of Hope. He designed and laid the groundwork for a facility that would provide shelter, food and education to boys between the ages of 6 and 16 who either were orphans or had been abandoned or neglected by their parents. Not only would the home provide the boys with basic necessities, but it also would impart values and morals so they could grow up and become contributing members of their community, Reid said.
“We have some brilliant minds here. Sometimes people need different opportunities than a way out. The whole orphanage idea is to be able to prepare these men,” he explained.
Reid said he was moved to tears when he learned Eight 4 World Hope wanted to partner with him and fund the orphanage he’d envisioned. And when Deacon Carges approached him several months ago and asked what he thought about re-naming the facility after Father Trovato, who died in July, he readily agreed.
“It’s not about the name. It’s about helping people, changing lives,” he explained.
Deacon Carges also is passionate about changing lives, and credits Father Trovato for helping him to develop that passion. The two met while Deacon Carges was a student at St. John Fisher, and the priest became a mentor of sorts for him, Deacon Carges said.
“He was so gentle, always smiling or laughing, always the embodiment of Christ,” he said. “I think what he taught me was that my faith wasn’t meant for just the church, but rather the world, to live it and let God live through me.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: To learn more about the orphanage projects or make a donation, click here.