Four more families who lost their homes during Hurricane Sandy have received keys to their new houses, built by Food For The Poor and financed by a $3 million donation by Supreme Ventures Ltd. This took place at a happy handing over ceremony in Fruitful Vale, Portland today. One more Portland family is to receive a new home among those financed by Supreme Ventures.
Today’s ceremony brings the total number of families to receive this much-needed Christmas gift under the programme to 30. It follows yesterday’s handing over of six of 10 new homes in Hamilton Mountain, St. Mary, by Food For the Poor and another corporate donor who contributed $5.7 million. In addition, Food For The Poor has matched these donations to construct an addition 15 houses in St. Mary, Portland and St. Thomas. The communities in St. Thomas, which are benefiting include Johns Town, Pamphret and Dumphries.
Food For The Poor and the corporate donors collaborated with the Portland/Eastern Parishes Hurricane Relief Fund, which was established on October 29, and had oversight for the relief initiative.
Thirty-year-old single mother of four, Shelly Ann Whyte, is a recipient of one of the new two bedroom homes in Fruitful Vale. She recounted that her two-bedroom board house had been completely destroyed during Hurricane Sandy, and that all the family’s belongings had been destroyed, including furniture, clothing, television, and even her daughter’s G-Sat books.
“I was very distressed,” she said, “but once I heard the mention of Food For the Poor, I knew help was on the way. I am overwhelmed and thankful!” Ms. Whyte was so happy to have a home for herself and her family that she could not wait for today’s ceremony – they moved in last night and slept on makeshift sponge beds. And when it started raining, she reports, they rejoiced that they no longer had “to set up bucket to catch water”!
At the formal handing over ceremony in Fruitful Vale today, Jacqueline Johnson, Executive Director, FFP Jamaica, explained that the families would receive not only sturdy new two bedroom houses, but a full range of furniture. This included, for each family, tables, chairs, stoves, beds, mattresses, stoves and solar lamps.
Mrs. Johnson noted that her early, first hand view of the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy had made it clear to her that housing assistance would be critical. She offered sincere thanks to the supporting donors, and to the Hurricane Relief Fund for allowing FFP to continue serving the poorest of the poor. Mrs. Johnson also expressed appreciation to the contractors and FFP team members who had worked tirelessly to ensure the completion of the homes. She urged the recipients to take care of the structures, and hoped they would enjoy the gifts they represented.
Carlene Edwards, Supreme Ventures Corporate Communications Officer, shared the moving rationale for her company’s involvement, saying, “We are thrilled to have partnered with Food For The Poor in donating several houses for persons and families that have been severely affected by Hurricane Sandy in the parishes of Portland, St. Thomas and St. Mary in October.
She added, “Our contribution of $3M to Food for the Poor, for the building of these units, will no doubt help to put these recipients’ lives back together, especially, as we approach the yuletide season. Upon seeing the devastation that took place after the hurricane, we made a commitment to assist in this effort and today we are humbled to be on location, assisting with the restoration of so many families.”
Daryl Vaz, Member of Parliament for Western Portland and Founder of the Portland/Eastern Parishes Hurricane Relief Fund, thanked FFP and Supreme Ventures for their contributions to the Fund and overall efforts since Hurricane Sandy. He said, “This illustrates that when we work together, a lot can happen, and it’s a pleasure to know that the recipients will be moving in just in time for Christmas.
“It is not an easy task to coordinate these efforts,” he added, “so I want to thank the sponsors, the Government officials and the Portland/Eastern Parishes Hurricane Relief Fund for helping to alleviate the suffering of those whose homes got damaged.”