Hanover Charities

From celebs to soup kitchens and it all started with a cow...

Your charity dollars, hard at work

Following a highly successful fundraising effort in February--the Sugar Cane Ball--we were able to donate more than US$125,000 this year, adding to the US$12 million we have donated over the many years of Hanover Charities' existence.

What's more, with your help, we are supporting 42 deserving students this year--eight more than last year.  And of the 42, eight are in medical school!

How Hanover Charities came about

In the 1950’s the very charismatic, then Custos Rotolorum of Hanover, Willy De Lisser along with his wife Ida lived at the Blue Hole Great House. Known as “Custos”, Willy De Lisser, and Ida, famed for their excellent hospitality and internationally renowned polo field, entertained many visitors, including royalty such as Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip as well as the host of celebrities who were flocking to the island.

An old Jamaican family, the De Lisser’s were great supporters of the community and every christmas “Custos” would slaughter a cow for the Hospital and infirmary patients’ christmas dinner. This had spiralled to the family supporting the disadvantaged of the parish. During the year custos would contact the person, who was then called the Poor Relief Officer, to identify the parishioners who most needed assistance.

At Christmas each person would then get from the family 5 shillings, and the children 1 shilling, Ida would personally find out from the list who was who, (man, woman or child), and get a small gift for each one, which she would wrap and distribute. – Sometimes up to 200 plus gifts.

A winter visitor to Jamaica, Mrs. Bingle, heard about what the family did and was so impressed she made a cash donation to help out with the purchase of gifts and food.

Buoyed by this contribution from Mrs. Bingle, Custos felt
that other guests flocking down to enjoy the Jamaican sun at the new Round Hill hotel run by his cousin John Pringle, would also like to contribute to the not so lucky in his parish – especially as Willy and Ida had introduced John to the Monsons of Round Hill and helped to get the resort up and running.

John, a very persuasive character in his own right and bon vivant extraordinaire, was a personal friend to many of the early homeowners and guests at Round Hill and was able to easily persuade the visitors to make donations to the Custos’s Christmas.

At around that time, the De Lissers sold Tryall to a group of Americans who wanted to create a world class golfing and villa resort. In 1957, Custos De Lisser, seizing the opportunity of having such luminaries in his parish, enlisted the aid of his friends Lord and Lady Monson, as well as the other glamourous socialites to be found as Round Hill and Tryall shareholders, to formally create Hanover Charities.

Visitors to Jamaica such as Prince Rainier of Monaco gave and continue to give generously to the charity.

A guest of one of the founder members of Hanover Charities, Mrs. Harriet Little of Tryall, Prince Rainier was travelling behind a cane truck to Negril when a little boy attempted to jump on the truck. The lad missed his footing and fell backwards onto the car the Prince was in. The Prince took the child to Lucea Hospital and was appalled to find there was no x-ray machine. On his return home he donated a unit to the hospital through the charity.

Now an official charity organization – a wider outreach programme for the area began. The aim was, and the tradition continues, to improve the quality of life for the residents of Hanover – which has generally been regarded as the “Cinderella” of Jamaica.

Hanover Charities fills the role of Prince Charming and befittingly once a year the main fund raiser is the Sugar Cane Carnival or Ball held at Round Hill Hotel & Villas. Traditionally held in February when the cold climes chase the “r&f” to the warmer shores and the homeowners are in residence. The ball has become a date on the international social calendar.

For the past 50 years “the ball” has been attended by celebs and other beautiful people from around the world who have kicked up their heels and freely spent their money for this very good cause.

From the Sugar Cane Carnival or Ball and donations from past, present and potential visitors to Jamaica - this non-profit organization (largest in western Jamaica) now has grown to assist over sixty charities in the parish, reaching over 25,000 citizens either directly or indirectly.

Community health, education and welfare activities, such as “soup kitchens” all have benefited from the largesse of this generous group of people. However, aid is not given out lightly and requests for funding are carefully investigated and screened by the charity board – now under the eagle eye of Chairperson Katrin Schafelner Casserly.

The emphasis is credibility, feasibility and project justification and during the project full accountability of the allocated funds.

Hanover Charities Board (The board – a who’s who – past & present)

Chair- Katrin Schafelner Casserly
Vice Chair / Treasurer
- Jennifer Cofer Flanagan
- Roy Ten Fah
Board Members
- Fenella Kennedy Holland, Pernel Crossman, Josef Forstmayr, Patricia Falkenberg, Stanford Brown Sr., Dr. Candace Hart, Vanessa Noel and Dr. David Stair - Custos of Hanover
Honorary Board Member
- Cecile Clare and Hon. Mavis King

Without an energetic pro-active board, no organization can properly fulfill its mission and Hanover Charities is no exception. Each board member must bring something unique to the table. The Hanover Charities board has also included some outstanding personalities.

The founding committee was comprised of the energetic Custos, Willy DeLisser, who acted as chairman, the suave John Pringle, (Round Hill conceptualiser and manager), who as Vice-Chairman used his gift of persuasion to - - involve many others aided by Ms. Stockhausen, secretary. An interesting Hanover Charities historical note, to carry on the tradition and to honour its founder Willy DeLisser who had been unfailing in his dedication to helping others - on his passing a motion was agreed by the board that whoever was the custos of the parish at the time would always be invited to become a board member. This tradition continues to this day.

The other founding members were Lord Monson and Lady Monson; and representing the Round Hill homeowners, Fiffy and Francis McAdoo; and Johanna Bigelow- Clark. Tryall was represented by Mrs. Harriet Little, Mr. Sandy Forbes and Mr. Edison Dick - who were also joined by local committee members, Eric Frater, Dr. Arthur Wint and Mrs. Gladys Mair. There was also always a representative of the Salvation Army who would come from Kingston to attend the meetings.

An original 1957 founder member, who to this day is an honorary member, is Cecile Clare. Ms. Clare has a deep love for her parish and a long-lasting and deep commitment to helping the needy as originally started by Willy DeLisser. A noted perfectionist, Ms. Clare's other great love is her own extended family. Her contribution to date has been incalculable. In order to honor her immeasurable gift to Hanover Charities the Soup Kitchen in Lucea has been renovated and enlarged in February of 2011 and has been renamed the "Cecile Clare - Soup Kitchen of Love" - managed by the Hanover Ministers Fraternal and supported/funded by Hanover Charities.

More long serving members were Round Hill homeowners Johanna Bigelow-Clark, who was the longest serving chairman, and Bettina Ward (sadly no longer with us) who served as Johanna's Vice Chairman from the mid 60ties through to 1992. Both Johanna and Bettina were sincere and very dedicated in their mission to help with Hanover Charities.

A story attributed to Johanna was that in 1988 after hurricane Gilbert devastated the island she drove her car to Lucea, despite the terrible conditions, to check on the hospital and other services directly helped by the charity. Because of the terrible damage and the length of time it took to get aid for vital services in the parish she insisted that every year funds be set aside for hurricanes or any other natural disaster - the emergency account exists today.

Taking up the reins from Johanna was Sandi Morris - who as Chairman from 1992 until her passing in January 2001 was a driving force behind the charity. Sandi Morris took "young and new blood" under her wings and Katrin Schafelner (married Patrick Casserly in 1998) began to understudy the hard work ladies like Sandi Morris and Paula Watkins did. Both took their "job" with Hanover Charities very serious and to heart. Sandi Morris was a resident in Jamaica and an integral part of the community, nothing escaped her and she was well loved by everyone. When Sandi passed away in 2001 Hanover Charities established in her honor the "Morris Scholarship".

Paula Watkins, a villa owner at Tryall, was installed as the succeeding chairman from 2001 to 2006. Paula, a citizen of the USA, spent more time in Jamaica and brought incredible fundraising skills to Hanover Charities. Her drive, dedication, commitment, determination and love to simply help, in her quite way, the less fortunate was incredible. Sadly she passed away, in Jamaica, just a few days prior to the 2006 Sugar Cane Ball fundraiser in February. Her daughter Tammy Watkins Green is to this day involved on the annual fundraising committee and her company Watkins Printing assists with free donations in kind.

That year, 2006, under the sad circumstances, Katrin Schafelner Casserly a resident of Jamaica, took over the chairmanship from Paula Watkins. A hard act to follow, but trained by ladies who lived philanthropy and showed generosity all their lives, it was an effortless transition. Katrin has been chairman since 2006, supported by a strong team. Roy Ten Fah, the secretary, has been in the back ground since over 20 years, without his contribution the charity organization would not be where it is today. In Jennifer Cofer Flanagan (villa owner at Tryall), Katrin has found a strong vice-chair who is equally dedicated and generous. Pernel Crossman, a stalwart in the parish of Hanover, a well-respected retired school prinicpal her input in the field is invaluable. Josef Forstmayr, graciously gives the venue for the Sugar Cane Ball fundraiser annually - namely Round Hill Hotel and Villas, and villa owners at Round Hill Patricia Falkenberg and Vanessa Noel assist in raising much needed funds for Hanover Charities. Dr. Candace Hart brings yet another level of insight to Hanover Charities and we cherish our annual field trips. Fenella Kennedy-Holland brings her PR skills and Stanford Brown Sr. spends most of his time in the field and brings attention to the saddest cases. Dr. David Stair, Custos of Hanover, is a very active Custos and we are proud that he serves on our board.

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