At a time when hundreds of Government workers are being sent home, some of the island’s major charitable organizations are reporting an increase in the number of people knocking on their doors for help.
Today, as FLOW Barbados announced that seven charitable organizations were set to benefit from a major cash injection of over $40 000 as part of the company’s upcoming end-of-year-celebrations, representatives of those charities who attended the launch at the company’s Warrens Corporate Office, spoke about how grateful they were for the donation, at a time when some of them have had to step up to assist additional clients.
Under the theme Our Community Matters, Barbados’ leading telecommunications provider will gift the Salvation Army, the Thelma Vaughan Memorial Home, Cancer Support Services and Jabez House with $5000 each to help cover operational costs and specific projects, while the Barbados Cancer Society, HIV Food Bank and the Barbados Child Care Board are in line to benefit from the initiative.
Divisional Business Manager at the Salvation Army Sherma Evelyn said that the funds from the telecommunications company would be going towards the 4000 Christmas hampers the non-profit organization would be handing out to needy families this year.“It would surprise you about the number of persons that do come for these parcels. We start registration and the Royal Barbados Police Force has to be there to help keep the crowd controlled.
“The Salvation Army feeds 140 persons daily at the Feeding Centre and through our Meals on Wheels Programme. We are thankful to FLOW because we know that the need is greater this year than last year. We have already seen it, and we are feeling it. We give food parcels as people come. They have lost their jobs, and have no way to make ends meet,” Evelyn explained.
Meanwhile Manager of the HIV/AIDS Food Bank Stacia Whittaker said there has been an increase in the number of vulnerable individuals going to the pantry.
“We know persons are out there seeking help. We can’t do it without you. We hope that you continue to support us,” Whittaker said.
Treasurer at the Thelma Vaughan Memorial Home Tony Wilson said that while many disabled children, and adults, who have no where else to go depend on the home, donations have dwindled, due to the current economic climate. At the same time, the home’s fund-raising activities are yielding little return.
Meanwhile, President of the Cancer Society Dr Dorothy Cooke-Johnson explained that the funding from FLOW is pivotal to sustaining the Society’s welfare services. She explained that many families dealing with cancer and their families, depend on the food vouchers.
“We have a 17-year-old teenager with amputation of the leg and his mom has no funds and very little to support them. Another nine-year-old with tumor of the kidney…mom can’t work; a two-year-old with cancer in both kidneys, who we are hoping to get up to Sick Kids Hospital next year…on chemotherapy, mom can’t hold a job, so she can’t earn any money. She has got next to nothing and they miss hospital visits because she has no bus fare to come down from St Lucy.
“There are children, three and four years old with leukaemia . . . A mom, she has got throat cancer, and two newborn children, no work, no job, anything, and the food vouchers keep her going. A granny who is 50, sole provider for two boys, their dad died from colon cancer. We are really grateful for what you have done for us, thank you,” Dr Cooke-Johnson noted.
Public Relations Officer of Cancer Support Services Antoine Williams, said the funds would boost the support services provided to cancer patients and their families.
Similarly, Deputy Director of the Child Care Board Denise Nurse expects the need will be greater. “We have discussed in house and we recognize that those donors who would have donated to us over the years, that we may not get some of them this year because the spread is going to have to be wider. But, I want to say thanks very much to FLOW,” Nurse said.
Director of Jabez House Shamelle Rice, said in an attempt to better meet the needs of its clients, the charity, which works with sex workers, recently established a farm to assist with the financing of their activities.
“We aren’t just about giving handouts and about making people feel sorry for themselves, but providing something that is real, practical while helping to empower them,” Rice said.