Rafe Cochran, 19, is ready to return to the links for his annual fundraiser in support of Food For The Poor (FFTP). The Eighth Annual Rafe Cochran Golf Classic will be held on Monday, April 29, at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Fla. This year, proceeds will fund the expansion of a seventh school in Jamaica through FFTP. (Photo/Food For The Poor)

COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (March 25, 2024) – With just over a month before the shotgun start, Palm Beach resident Rafe Cochran is laser-focused on his favorite project – the Eighth Annual Rafe Cochran Golf Classic – an event he’s hosted through Food For The Poor (FFTP) since grade school.

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Proceeds from the event, which will be held on Monday, April 29, at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Fla., will support much-needed upgrades at the Brompton Primary School in Brompton, Jamaica. This will be the seventh school in Jamaica that Cochran has helped expand.

“The classic is a time when everyone can come together and support a good cause,” Cochran said. “It is really a great day where everyone has a blast. However, most importantly, together we are raising funds to build a school that will educate children in Jamaica for generations to come, which is our main goal.”

Cochran, 19, began playing golf when he was 6. Three years later, after an FFTP representative visited his class, he channeled his passion for golf into becoming one of FFTP’s youngest supporters by raising money to build two homes for families in Ganthier, Haiti. He did it by asking his generous supporters to pledge money for shots he made at a golf tournament – $100 for pars, $200 for birdies, and $250 for eagles.

Since hosting the first Rafe Cochran Golf Classic in 2016, it’s been an annual event, pausing only in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. By age 14, Cochran had raised money to build 10 homes in Haiti and later to build or expand three schools in Jamaica. Last year, he supported the expansion of Innswood High School in St. Catherine Parish, Jamaica.

He’s also had a tremendous impact at FFTP.

“When you look at the history of Rafe’s support of Food For The Poor, you can’t help but be inspired by his consistent dedication and commitment,” FFTP President/CEO Ed Raine said. “He’s an outstanding young man, and we’re privileged that he has chosen to work with us for so many years.”

While working on homes in Haiti was gratifying, Cochran found working on schools in Jamaica to be more rewarding.

“It is really tough to give someone something that will hopefully last forever,” Rafe said. “I really wanted to give something that keeps on giving. I think once someone is educated, it helps that person to get out of the cycle of poverty, which gives them a better opportunity to succeed. To me, when anyone has access to a valuable education, that is golden.”

Sheena McKenzie-Scott, who has been the principal at Brompton Primary School since 2018, also understands the value of education and has high hopes and aspirations for her students.

“I want to have them thinking critically and uplift them, so they don’t have to be unemployed or work on a small farm like many others in their families,” she said. “I want them to think big and aim high.”

Part of Jamaica’s Saint Elizabeth Parish, Brompton is home to more than 3,700 people. Most residents are farmers, while others are skilled tradesmen or public sector workers. More than one third of the students at Brompton Primary School live in poverty and receive assistance through the Program of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH), a conditional cash transfer program funded by the Jamaican government and the World Bank. PATH delivers benefits in the form of cash grants to society’s neediest and most vulnerable people.

Brompton Primary School does not have enough space to accommodate its 499 students and is susceptible to flooding in heavy rain. Built primarily of wood, the school is crumbling in disrepair, and substantial structural rot brought on by water intrusion is creating a safety hazard for students and staff.

“The buildings are not safe and could fall apart at any time,” McKenzie-Scott said. “So, I’m praying that we can get the students in a much safer space.”

In addition, one of the school’s buildings is poorly designed. Classes are separated by chalkboards instead of walls, leaving students and their teachers in a distracting and chaotic learning environment.

School officials converted the cafeteria into a classroom, with lunches now being prepared in a cramped space with sparse natural lighting and limited ventilation through the room’s louvered windows. The guidance counselor’s unit is infested with termites and mold, making it unsafe for students and staff.

The project includes the construction of four additional classrooms, an administrative unit and guidance counselor’s office, and a staff restroom.

Although he has yet to have a chance to visit the school, Cochran hopes to do so before he heads off to college this fall. A graduate of Oxbridge High School in West Palm Beach, he’ll be joining the golf team at Emory University in Atlanta.

“It is going to be a new experience,” he said. “Moving away from home and living in Atlanta will be different, but I am excited. I think it is going to be a good chapter.”

Cochran credits his parents, Diahann and Jay Cochran, for supporting him.

“My parents are incredible, and I thank God for them every day,” he said. “They are fully dedicated to my vision, and I think they want the best for me and anything we are a part of. I could not do this without them.”

Cochran has always been an independent thinker, his mother said. She and her husband have always followed his lead, giving him the space and encouragement to pursue his goals. They are proud of his accomplishments.

“I look at Rafe, and I think we did something right as parents by telling him, ‘do not to be a follower, be a leader,’ and I believe he has done that,” Diahann Cochran said. “We are very proud of him because kids might do something for a year or two and then move on to something else. Rafe says he will always do his charity work – it will be part of his legacy. In fact, he has proven his motto to be true: ‘You are never too young to take action and to make a difference.’”

In addition to the excitement of the game, the tournament will include various raffle items, with proceeds going toward the project. To RSVP, donate raffle items, learn about sponsorship opportunities, and for more information, please visit foodforthepoor.org/rafe, email [email protected], or call 888-404-4248.

Food For The Poor, one of the largest international relief and development organizations in the nation, does much more than feed millions of hungry children and families living in poverty primarily in 17 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. This interdenominational Christian ministry provides emergency relief assistance, water, medicine, educational materials, homes, support for vulnerable children, care for the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance. For more information, please visit foodforthepoor.org.


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