‘COVID has been wicked’ - … But St Elizabeth native is determined to spread Christmas cheer
Every December since 2014, Gurvan Whitely has been making the trek to Jamaica back to the community where he grew up – Bellevue in St Elizabeth.
Whitely, who was close to his mother, Doris Louise Whitely, said after living in the United States for several years, and thinking about the person his late mother was, he could not shake the desire to do something tangible for his district.
Influenced also by the many stalwarts in the community who continue to make a difference by impacting the lives of others, he, along with his sister Apostle Bernadine Whitely Holness, decided they would host an annual gospel show and a ‘heroes’ award, where they would honour those who might never see themselves on the national stage being recognised for the outstanding work they have been doing.
The siblings also used the opportunity to put on a Christmas treat for the children. Under the banner of their DWL Foundation, since 2014, there has never been a pause in the annual Boxing Day event, but this year it pains his heart to acknowledge that it has to be put off until December 2021.
“COVID-19 has been wicked. I can’t tell how you many lives it has disrupted,” stated Whitely, who runs a laundromat in New York.
He said many persons in the Bellevue community have reached out to him, expressing how the year has been horrible and how much they looked forward to the gospel concert which would lift their spirits.
“The reality is that we have to adhere to social distancing, plus with the country expecting a second wave of the pandemic, it must be safety first,” Whitely told The Sunday Gleaner.
DIFFERENT KIND OF CHRISTMAS
Acknowledging that he is cognisant of the advice issued by the US Government about unnecessary travelling, he said there was no way he could remain in New York this Christmas. He had to return to his hometown and spread some Christmas cheer.
Pointing out that things have been rough businesswise with the coronavirus still ravishing New York, he said he still had to do something that would put a smile on the face of those from his beloved community.
His plan is to prepare care packages for senior citizens and the most vulnerable in Bellevue.
“It will be a different kind of Christmas for the first time. The world over has been making adjustments, and for me it will be no different,” he noted.
Remembering his mother, he said she was a woman of God and passionate about helping those in the community, which she did for over 50 years.
It is that good example that she set, he said, that sees him ignoring his own challenges, which are many, as he has had to dig deep to facilitate the trip back home and to purchase the necessary items to do the distributions.
“But how can I not? In the States, there are several food places issuing supplies on a weekly basis and yet there are still so many needs. Jamaica doesn’t have that luxury, so even if I don’t reach all the numbers I want, I will still be reaching out,” Whitely stated.
He said he feels a sense of sadness in not being able to host the annual event. Normally, December would be a time when his entire family would accompany him to Jamaica and they would all enjoy the camaraderie of the annual affair, providing great bonding for them. It was also a chance to lime with those he grew up with and just have fun. Missing out on that this year, he said, gives him an empty feeling.
On a brighter note, Whitely said he is looking forward to next year when he will be honouring those selected for both this year and in 2021.