Clarendon’s street persons fêted to mark World Homeless Day
Street persons and some of Clarendon’s most vulnerable were pampered, fed and given a bag with goodies on Monday at the old police station in May Pen, in observance of World Homeless Day.
The event was staged by the Clarendon Municipal Corporation’s (CMC) Poor Relief Department, in partnership with Juici Patties and other stakeholders.
Edith Chin, director of Juici Patties, said the moment the CEO of the CMC, Rowhan Blake, reached out to Juici, there was no hesitation.
“This initiative today is one that Juici welcomes. We have had a long-standing culture and history of helping the homeless, the elderly and the infirmed, primarily through two main programmes – our elderly soup-feeding programme, which is in its 20th year this year, and our youth leadership programme, which is in its 18th year,” Chin told The Gleaner.
When the pandemic hit, Chin said the company had to get creative in how it offered assistance. Unable to go into the homes of the elderly as they normally would, she said the company partnered with the Ministry of Labour and Social Security and the National Council for Senior Citizens in providing assistance to the elderly and shut-ins.
Chin noted, however, that Juici’s involvement is not just about World Homeless Day and providing assistance. She stressed that it’s about listening and learning, so that they can better understand the experiences of persons so affected in order to assist them in an informed way.
“This initiative is as much about giving as it is about listening and learning, so that we know how we can help. I implore everyone to come out and join and assist,” she pleaded.
Acting Inspector of the Poor for Clarendon, Ann-Marie Thomas, said the event, which was held under the theme ‘Changing Lives of Persons Experiencing Homelessness Through Community Involvement and Career Development’, highlighted the challenges they face every day.
“We face challenges in Clarendon with the homeless every day,” she said, as she praised those who assist with Sunday meals, like the Lions, Rotary and Kiwanis clubs and Grace Baptist Church, among others.
Thomas said the homeless can go to the drop-in centre which is near the infirmary and receive a warm meal.
Those who were not able to make it to the event did not miss out, as Thomas said a team was engaged in taking packages to the various communities.
Clarendon is estimated to have 89 homeless persons on record. However, Thomas said that in the last three months they have seen at least 30 new homeless persons in the parish.
She also made the call for other entities to come on board to help with the feeding programme.