First Look

Food For The Poor Constructs New Home For Care Centre in St. Elizabeth

PROComm | 2012-08-09 19:12:00

Food For The Poor-Jamaica (FFP-Jamaica) has enhanced services provided for the mentally ill and homeless residents of St. Elizabeth by constructing a new facility for the Santa Cruz Care Centre. This health-care initiative is a collaborative effort with the St. Elizabeth Care Committee, a charity that caters to the needs of street people. The Centre was previously located in a cramped area of the Santa Cruz Health Centre. Thanks to FFP-Jamaica the homeless now have access to a new, spacious and well-equipped facility.

The Santa Cruz Care Centre includes a spacious dining area, an office, a fully equipped kitchen and modern bathroom facilities with shower enclosures for both males and females. The Centre offers hot meals, change of clothing, sanitation facilities, necessary medications and general health care to the homeless and mentally ill.

At the recent official opening ceremony, the Hon. Noel Arscot, Minister of Local Government and Community Development, commended FFP-Jamaica for this timely and necessary initiative. “We have to work together to adequately care for those who find themselves in unfortunate circumstances.  Through this project, Food For The Poor and the St. Elizabeth Care Committee have demonstrated their willingness to serve others and this is quite commendable.  I am sure that the mandate of this Centre, which is to care for the needs of our less fortunate brothers and sisters, will be enhanced as a result of this initiative.”

During his presentation, Minister Arscot also pledged monetary support to assist with the immediate needs of the Centre and stated “the Care Centre will stand as a beacon of hope and rescue for street people in St. Elizabeth.”

The Santa Cruz Care Centre will be managed by the St. Elizabeth Care Committee, who have served the homeless for the past six years. Their mission is to provide a better quality of life for street people. According to Beryl Rochester, Chairman of the Committee, prior to FFP-Jamaica’s donation, their mission was being hampered due to limited space, lack of proper sanitary conveniences and inadequate kitchen facilities.

“We used to operate from a small area that the Health Centre permitted us to use. However, this was posing a serious challenge especially as it related to space. We realized that we had to do something about the situation so we adopted a collaborative approach,” Mrs. Rochester said.  “Today, that approach is paying off. This new structure will aid in the restoration of conversational skills, self-respect, dignity and self-support for the recipients. That’s the impact and that’s our reward.”

Approximately 65 mentally ill and homeless persons will benefit from the project.  Previously, healthcare service was offered to the beneficiaries once a week; but this is expected to increase with the operation of the new Centre.

Sheldon Howell, Project Officer at FFP-Jamaica, said that FFP remains committed to the overall development of our less fortunate brothers and sisters across the island.  Therefore, “we are proud to have partnered with the St. Elizabeth Care Committee to provide a better quality of life for the recipients. We built a four-unit structure to eliminate the space issue.  In addition to the upgraded bathroom facilities, we ensured that the kitchen area had proper storage cupboards, a stove and a refrigerator as this was not previously in place. This facility will surely make life much easier for the Committee.”

Mr. Howell explained that Food For The Poor is concerned with the holistic development of people. “In this regard, our goal is to improve the health, economic, social and spiritual conditions of the persons we serve through emergency relief aid and programmes in the areas of housing, food, health care, water, sanitation, education, agriculture, outreach and micro-enterprise.”

The Ministry of Health also supported the initiative, as pointed out by Dr. M Irons-Morgan, Director of Mental Health.  She said “When interventions are done early, they cost less.  This intervention will aid in the assessment, treatment, rehabilitation and re-integration of the beneficiaries.  Lives will be rescued and persons will be empowered to live productive lives.”

Among the other invitees at the opening ceremony were: Mr. Raymond Pryce, Member of Parliament for Eastern St. Elizabeth; His Worship the Mayor Councillor Everton Fisher, Mayor of Black River; and Mr. Stallin Brown, Councillor for the Santa Cruz Division.

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