Strathmore Gardens’ wishes come true - Spanish Town children’s home receives $850k donation from NCB Foundation
The 29 children and the 21 dedicated staff members at Strathmore Gardens Children’s Home got a huge surprise over the recent holiday season with a donation from the NCB Foundation, bringing a much-needed dose of holiday cheer to the home, based in Spanish Town, St Catherine. Cumulated votes in this year’s NCB Foundation Grant a Wish Programme resulted in the Strathmore Gardens Children’s Home being the recipient of a donation of $850,000 in the children’s home category.
The home, which opened its doors 45 years ago, provides care for children between the ages of three to 22 years. “I started out at the home 18 years ago as an ordinary caregiver working with the children and have climbed the ranks and I now serve as the manager of the home. I’ve seen children come and go over the years, and it’s been a truly wonderful experience working with these kids to build their self-esteem and re-establish a sense of hope in them. We want to encourage them to work towards being the best they can be and to play their role in society one day, and we are doing all that we can with what we have to make sure that they fulfil their highest potential” noted Marcia Tucker, manager of the home.
Despite many financial challenges over the years, 2020 posed a new, even bigger challenge for the home. Operating and maintaining the same level of care amidst the COVID-19 pandemic has proven extremely difficult. Hard-hit by the effects of the pandemic, things were far from business as usual this year. Visitations and outings were restricted and unfortunately, food supplies and other donations were significantly reduced as strict protocols were put in place on anyone or anything entering the facility, in order to preserve the safety of the children, some of whom are part of the vulnerable and/or at-risk groups.
“In the initial period, the kids have really had a hard time coping without their usual outings. There has been such a significant restriction on their typical fun time! And we’ve had to do our best to find that balance between keeping them active and happy, but also keeping them safe. I mean, regular visitors were a usual and very welcomed thing here at the home, but now with COVID-19 things have been severely cut back,” Tucker noted.
Balancing the regular needs of the home such as food and other basic living supplies, as well as now the increased emotional needs of the children has undoubtedly proven challenging for the manager and her team. “We’ve had our ups and downs over the years, and 2020 has really tested us, but it’s the unconditional love for these children that has pushed us onwards amid all the chaos, doing all that we can to show up for them. It’s demanding, but also extremely rewarding.”
The $850,000 donation, decided on by votes from the public, will help the home to meet some of its needs and alleviate most of its financial burdens. Some of their immediate needs include washing machines, a deep freeze, an outdoor kitchen facility and a home next door the main facility to house the boys. Finally finishing the building for the boys is what the donation will be put towards and also a fresh start for 2021!
Tucker had nothing but praise for the NCB Foundation. “Thanks to this donation, we will be able to enter the new year with a firmer foundation and a renewed sense of hope for what is to come! Thank you NCB, thank you Jamaica! Thank you, thank you, thank you!” she said.
The Strathmore Gardens Children’s Home is one of more than 60 recipients in this year’s Grant A Wish Programme. Yearly, the NCB Foundation seeks looks to spread love and support throughout their various ‘Grant A Wish’ initiatives islandwide, which sees donations of hundreds of thousands of dollars made to individuals across Jamaica. This year, in order to add some additional structure and enhance the impact of this initiative, five categories were chosen, nominations for each category were made and one wish was granted across the 32 branches and 14 divisions, decided by public votes. The five categories included children’s home, nursing home, special needs, organisation in need and individual in need.