Fewer families with children are receiving assistance from the Prison Fellowship Barbados, as the non-profit organization has seen a reduction in donations from corporate Barbados and individuals to assist in its programmes, especially at Christmas time.
Executive director of the fellowship, Thomas Watts, said that for the past five years, owing to lack of adequate funding, the organization was forced to cut the number of children it assisted at Christmas time with gifts and other offerings –– from 1,500 to 800.
He was speaking to the media this morning at Scotiabank Haggatt Hall, St Michael, where just over 500 wrapped gifts were donated from the bank to the Fellowship’s Angel Tree Programme.
In 1992, the fellowship was established with the mission of transforming lives through the spreading of the good news of Christ to prisoners, former prisoners, and their families.
Watts said that this year he received letters from companies and people, who had made donations in the past, informing him that they would be unable to offer assistance, due to the economic crisis. Nevertheless, he indicated that the fellowship was happy that new players had come onboard with donations.
“I don’t want to say too much, because as an organization we have to work with everybody, whether you give us or you don’t give us. I want to thank God for all of those who are with us and even who [are] against us,” he said.
Meanwhile, manager Michael Stuart said Scotiabank was happy to continue its nine-year partnership with the Prison Fellowship, giving hundreds of children across Barbados the joy and privilege of opening a gift on Christmas morning.
The manager said that while the partnership in the Angel Tree programme was spearheaded by Scotiabank as a company, he was pleased and proud too that the contribution came from the hearts of staff members who donated the gifts which he said was as a result of the bank’s key best practices in encouraging volunteerism among staff members.
“The bank is very serious about this and supports and rewards our staff members to the extent that we can even include our volunteer activities in our performance reviews. I think this is something that is especially important in these tough economic times.
“You have all heard the heads of various service organizations speaking about how there is so much more need in recent years with people who have been able to manage on their own before coming forward to get help. We must help them. It is up to us as good corporate citizens to be our brother’s keeper and try to keep the vulnerable from falling through the cracks,” Stuart said.