MARSHA Burrell Rose is a woman on a mission.
The 44-year-old development and marketing manager at Food for the Poor (FFP) told All Woman that ever since childhood, she has had a desire embedded within her to help people.
Growing up in Portmore, St Catherine, and witnessing her mother’s unwavering service to others, she knew that her life would also be devoted to serving others.
“Our house was that house in the community where all the children would come, and no matter what it was, my mother always had something in her house to give to people. So it was embedded in us to always give back,” Burrell Rose pointed out.
And so, it came as no surprise that when she started her business, Restaurant Divine, alongside her husband Jomo in 2010, she made it her point of duty to give back to the homeless in Silver Slipper Plaza, Cross Roads, on Saturdays.
What is more, even after the business closed down some three years ago, they continued their service to the homeless.
“In the process we started Divine Intervention, a small outreach group where we would feed the homeless, not just with physical food but with spiritual food. We developed a friendship with these homeless people in Silver Slipper Plaza. So when the business closed, we decided we would still offer our feeding. We go to them and speak out about God. We saw these people in a different way. You see them on the road and drive past them every day, but when you speak to them you see the different personalities. From this interaction we knew we wanted much more for them,” she explained.
This led Burrell Rose to reach out to FFP, which gave her the task of raising funds locally to help people with housing and basic amenities.
Now at FFP for three years, Burrell Rose, in her role as development and marketing manager, has led the charge in building over 100 homes through one of the main projects, which is the 5K Run/Walk, which she helped to implement.
“We’ve built over 100 houses since the inception of the 5k. The main focus of the 5k is twofold — to show what we’re doing at FFP and to raise funds. The aim is to build awareness and get help in the form of funding to build over 100 houses each time,” she said.
Burrell Rose also pointed out that she often gets emotional about her job, especially when she sees how uncaring some people are about helping others in need.
“I can’t understand how someone can take up $100,000 to buy a carnival costume, but can’t take up $1,200 to register and donate for a race. I get very emotional when I have to beg people to sign up for a race. It’s for us! Yes, it’s FFP, but when you go to the hospitals and you lie down on the bed, it’s a bed that FFP donated. When you need a wheelchair for your mother, it’s the same thing. Some of these people who have money, they send their children to the top schools and we’re the ones that help to fund them. It touches everybody!”
She added: “I get very emotional about my work because I see it every day — we get the phone calls, persons want to kill themselves because they have kids and can’t care for them. Some of us will say, ‘Why should I help a mother with five kids who knows she doesn’t have the money?’ However, understand that you have the mentality to think about that, but she doesn’t. She’s just seeking a way to get out. It is two different Jamaicas. I tell people all the while, don’t compare your life or your mental thinking with others, because you don’t know what it is like. When you work here it’s no longer a job, you’re on a mission,” Burrell Rose explained.
Also a devout Christian, Burrell Rose said she is committed to doing everything to the honour of God and keeping God as the centre of her life. Coupled with her role at FFP, she also pointed out that on the last Saturday in every month, her family still visits Silver Slipper Plaza to share food and the word of God.
“My husband and I are committed to doing this, and we bring our daughter who’s seven along with us in order to let her see the other world that’s out there and be grateful for small mercies,” Burrell Rose said.
She is also passionate about premature babies and giving support to mothers who have delivered such children.
“Having a premature baby has shifted my thoughts and how I am today to be grateful to God for life. That was an experience that drove me closer to God and I started a Facebook group called Support for Mothers with Premature Babies, because having gone through it, I want to be there for persons who had the same experience,” she said.
Burrell Rose lives by the reminder that without God you’re nothing.
“On this mission I want people to see the changes in me and ask what is it I’m doing, and I can say it’s God. I want people to know God and I must be able to tell them about God without actually saying it,” she declared.