Founded in 1978 by the Rev. Monsignor Gregory R. Ramkissoon, Mustard Seed Communities is an international not-for-profit organization whose purpose is to help abandoned children with disabilities in Jamaica.

“When Monsignor Gregory founded the mission program, his aim was clear: Given that the children are abandoned and have a variety of disabilities, feeling loved is especially critical to their well-being. Since he couldn’t bring the children to the world, he decided to bring the love of the world to the children,” said Father Tony Gomez, a member of the organization.

More than 30 years later, what started as a home for children in need has become an organization that provides care and training for youth and adults in 15 communities, not only in Jamaica but throughout the Caribbean and Africa.

On Sunday, Sept. 25, Mustard Seed Communities members and donors gathered at the Hilton hotel in New York for the 21st annual benefit luncheon.

Guests came from all around the world. The American and Jamaican national anthems opened the ceremony, bringing people together for a beautiful moment. Then came speeches by Ramkissoon and Mustard Seed Communities honorees, including Amsterdam News Publisher and Editor in Chief Elinor Tatum.

At the luncheon the organization paid tribute to several other figures of note, including Ann-Marie Francis, sales executive for Caribbean Airlines/Air Jamaica, and Dennis Hawthorne, chief executive officer of Dennis Shipping. They were honored for their activism and stellar work over the years.

The ceremony ended with a beautiful fashion show organized by Walter Greene.

The luncheon was not only an occasion to acknowledge the growth and development of Mustard Seed Communities but also introduced several new projects, including the creation of village communities for orphaned babies and children with disabilities and special needs, families living with HIV/AIDS, pregnant teens and battered women.