Garland Hall Home

Ninety years ago, ten ( 10) women, wives and daughters of ministers of the Jamaica Baptist Union(JBU), got together at the Mission House of the Bethel Town Baptist Church in the parish of Westmoreland, at the invitation of the Rev. & Mrs. Miller. The vision was the formation of a fellowship to link all Baptist women in Christian service. After a week of prayer and fellowship, on December 10, 1922, the Jamaica Baptist Women's Federation (JBWF) came into being.

From its early beginnings, the JBWF adopted as its motto: SEEK, SAVE and SERVE. The woman who was credited for first using these three words (while addressing a Union Meeting), Elizabeth Garland Hall, was appointed the first organizing secretary. She travelled across the island forming branches in many Baptist Churches. Mama Hall, as she was popularly known, encouraged Baptist women to become effective Christian wives and mothers and to play an active role in the life of their local church.

This home was formerly known as the Pansy Garden Home which was established by Mama Hall in St. Ann in 1931. Her failing health forced her to send the children in her care to other homes. The JBWF started a fund, bought land in Anchovy, St. James and erected what is now known as the Garland Hall Memorial Home. It was partially finished and occupied in 1941 and in 1957 it was completed and reopened. Other additions have been made to the building over time to include a sick bay, boy's dormitory, matron's quarters and a multipurpose area. Many JBWF presidents, leaders and local and overseas partners have effected various improvements and expansion to the building. The flooring of the original building recently underwent major repairs.

A local group, the Garland Hall Home Committee, manages the Home. The leadership of the Mt. Carey Baptist Church has played a pivotal role in directing its operations. The current chairman Rev. Dr. George V. Simpson has given over thirty years' service in that capacity. Other members of the committee include the JBWF president and other JBWF representatives as well as representatives of school and community. Mr. Leonard Tugwell, the treasurer of the Home, gives oversight to the general physical plant.

The daily care and operations of the home is in the hands of the Matron, her assistant and caregivers. Edna Harty gave over 40 years unstinting service as matron, she will be laid to rest tomorrow with a funeral service to be held at the Mt. Carey Baptist Church. Gwendolyn Woodit followed as matron and we now have Mrs. Sydia Smith as the acting matron.

Accommodation is available for up to 35 children. They attend the Mt. Carey Baptist Church. Some have become members of the church. Currently, most of the children are wards of the State sent to us by the Child Development Agency (CDA), which monitors to ensure that the terms of the licensing of the home are upheld. We give special thanks to the schools around, which provide places for these children. We also pay tribute to ' friends of the home'. At the top of the list are our sisters in the JBWF branches who make regular planned trips to this facility. In addition the home is assisted by Food for the Poor, Mission Jamaica, Wannabees, Bryan's Communication, International Volunteers and Lions of Montego Bay among others.

After Garland Hall, where? Has been the question with which the JBWF has struggled for some time. That question gave rise to the idea of a halfway house/flatlets to be constructed on lands adjoining the Home. The JBWF is proud to say that as a body we will see this dream become reality as of next week, when we will begin the foundation for this building. As women of God in this 21st century we believe that all things are possible with God and so we say "Hitherto hath the Lord led us".


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