The Salvation Army is in the process of embarking on three major development projects totaling some $2.5 million, as it seeks to extend its assistance to the needy.
However, after raising just over $635,000 in its kettle appeal last Christmas, which fell below its $750,000 target, but was more than what was raised in 2016, officials are pleading with Barbadians to continue to give generously.
At a recent media conference at its Reeds, Street, Bridgetown offices, Chairman of the Advisory Board Paul Bernstein said the organization is planning the development of a $650,000 multipurpose facility in Speightstown, a $350,000 redesign of its church and men’s hostel in Bridgetown and the construction of a $1.5 million women’s hostel in St Phillip.
Bernstein said the Speightstown facility will be the area’s core office as well as house living quarters for that town’s Major.
“Downstairs will be a feeding and multipurpose centre, which is long overdue there. It is a very dilapidated place at the moment . . . the hold back at this time is government approval for the waiver of duties. Once we get that wavier we are ready to proceed. We already have a conveyor in place, a construction company and everything. Hopefully we get [the waiver] soon so that at the end of the year that building would be completed,” he said, pointing out that he expected to hear from Government on the approval request in a matter of weeks.
The $350,000 reconfiguration of the organization’s Reeds Street church and men’s hostel, would include the building of a conference centre/central hall for various activities.
“Plans are in place. They have already been drawn up and the architect is looking at keeping the heritage structure of course, but looking to expand it so that we can accommodate more people,” said Bernstein.
The largest of the three projects would be the construction of an approximately $1.5 million women’s hostel on a portion of land the association owns in St Philip.
Bernstein said the charitable organization has been seeking to set up a hostel for battered women for many years and had finally decided on the east of the island, after finding it difficult to locate affordable land in the St Michael area.
“We have decided to use land in Long Bay, St Philip. We want to build a centre for battered women as well as senior citizens; make [it] similar to Reeds Street, [with] the feeding centre and the men’s hostel. But this is a larger project and will entail a lot of support from not only the business community but other charitable organizations,” said Bernstein.
He said while the funds were already in place for the Speightstown development, only about 10 per cent of the cost for the planned Bridgtown expansion was already raised.
Bernstein said the organization would have to come up with the rest of the funds, pointing out “we can only expand with the generosity of the people of Barbados”.
“We think that we can get the business community to support us once we get Town and Country Planning approval. The Long Bay project is a little way off because we have the land but still have to look for $1.5 million, and that is going to take a little while, but nothing is beyond us,” he said, recalling that the organization had no money when it started the plan for the men’s hostel, which is now fully paid for.
During the press conference, officials announced plans for a week of activities from May 27 to June 3, in celebration of the organization’s 120th anniversary.
Pointing out that the week of activities was designed to give thanks for help over the years, Public Relations Officer Major Denzil Walcott said besides an advisory board dinner and march, there will be three free concerts.