Sandals South Coast Joins Ministry of Local Government and Community Development to Give Back on World Homeless Day

(Whitehouse, Westmoreland (October 2022): Theodore Roosevelt once said “This country will not be a good place for any of us to live in unless we make it a good place for all of us to live in.” It was with that thought in mind that volunteers from Sandals South Coast journeyed to Black River, St. Elizabeth to lend a helping hand to the homeless. The occasion was an initiative to commemorate World Homeless Day (Oct 10) at the Drop-in Centre in Black River.

Spearheaded by the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development (MLGCD) through its Poor Relief Department, the World Homeless Day initiative in Black River was one of several similar events taking place concurrently across the island to raise awareness of the needs of those among the island’s most vulnerable.

The initiative also provided an opportunity for communities including public and private sector entities to respond to homelessness under the theme “Changing the Lives of Persons Experiencing Homelessness through Community Involvement and Career Development.”

In Black River, the response was certainly felt. The World Homeless Day initiative is in its second year and already organisers have seen a marked improvement in how the event is executed and the level of support.

A mental health bus transported those affected, from Black River, Santa Cruz and Middle Quarters to the Drop-in Centre where they were offered a shower, clothing and grooming.

These are all frequent offerings from the Drop-in Centre, which also serves breakfast, lunch and dinner to approximately 30 homeless persons. On World Homeless Day however, the Sandals South Coast team sought to ease the burden and enhanced the offerings by providing warm meals to over 50 homeless persons both on and off-site.

Members of the mental health team for the parish as well as the Board of Supervision in the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development administered various health checks and offered massages.

Shonieka Brown, regional manager for the Board of Supervision noted that this year’s initiative has exceeded last year. “The health checks administered by the team are a first for this initiative but also a critical part of the care we offer for the homeless persons,” she said. “Also, th data we gather from the results of these tests will allow us to better prepare meals based on the individual’s needs.”

The day’s proceedings also saw those in attendance participating in fun and engaging activities such as singing and bun-eating contests, and light-hearted competitions to win prizes of groceries and other items. “This cause is very important to me as I have close relatives who have struggled with mental health issues and homelessness in the past,” said Sandals South Coast Pastry Chef, Alecia Wray, who was instrumental in getting her resort involved in the initiative which she herself has previously supported.

Wray beamed with joy as she worked alongside her colleagues sharing meals and desserts made in the pastry shop of the Luxury-Included® resort and watching the joy on the faces of the attendees as they

enjoyed the treats. “The homeless are all individuals. Some may fall on hard times but with just a bit of help and support they can be successfully re-integrated into society,” said Desreen Douglas, assistant inspector and poor and also the homeless coordinator for the parish of St Elizabeth. “But it takes a lot of effort and real commitment and if they dont have the support of friends and family or support systems like this one, it can be very hard” she said.

According to CEO for the St. Elizabeth Municipal Corporation, Errol Lebert, improving conditions for this vulnerable population as well as access to support systems is one of the millennium goals of the government to reducing poverty.

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