Pork has given way to poultry at Verdun House.
The Pool, St John rehabilitation facility for males, which is run by the Substance Abuse Foundation (SAF) and provides treatment for persons addicted to illicit drugs and alcohol, recently phased out its flagging pig rearing business and is utilizing the space to significantly expand poultry production.
The pigpens on the farm had fallen into disrepair as a result of termites and the SAF’s director of finance and administration Bernard Pooler said they also recognized that pig rearing was not financially feasible.
The challenge, however, was finding the funds for the renovations and making the change.
That’s when CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank stepped in to finance the construction and renovation of 3,000 square feet of pens in which to raise broilers.
The pens were handed over recently.
The SAF’s Director, Human Resources, Communication and Client Development, Marietta Carrington said the bank’s contribution was particularly welcomed as “the stigma associated with mental health and addiction is real and therefore getting support – financial or otherwise – is often very difficult”.
She said addiction and substance abuse were often misunderstood, and were generally perceived to be self-controllable, social behaviours that could be managed through choice, personal will-power and moral controls.
However, Carrington said, that was not the case.
“For CIBC FirstCaribbean to recognize that these men and women, who are often the most vulnerable in our society, deserve to get the treatment they need and to be provided with opportunities to acquire new skills or to improve existing ones, speaks volumes,” she said.
“By providing support to our micro business programme (animal farm programme) the bank has demonstrated the seriousness with which it takes its corporate social responsibility, recognizing of course that addiction not only affects the individuals but the wider society.”
CIBC FirstCaribbean expressed its gratitude to the SAF for allowing it to be part of such a meaningful project – one which contributes to the recovery and reintegration of addicts into the society.
Noting that addiction has adverse effects on individuals and their families – especially children – and the wider society, the bank’s Managing Director Donna Wellington said CIBC FirstCaribbean recognized the importance of solid family structures and healthy citizens and was willing to contribute to the development and maintenance of these objectives.
Verdun’s animal farm is part of the SAF’s micro-business programme, which Pooler pointed out was important for therapeutic reasons. He said it also provided former and current residents with employable skills and job opportunities, which are among the vehicles for keeping recovering addicts on a drug-free road.
Pooler said working on the farm also increases their employability as it helps them to acquire technical skills and to develop the attitudes for coping in the workplace or as self-employed persons.
In addition to the farm, a bakery and lawn maintenance operation make up Verdun’s micro-business portfolio.