December 24, 2012
Homeless fêted at annual Christmas treat
SHELDON WILLIAMS, STAFF Reporter
The Corporate Area Probation Office held their annual Christmas treats on Tuesday where they catered to the needs of homeless persons by providing meals and care packages to residents at two shelters.
More than 105 residents at the Windward Road Drop-In Centre and 120 from The Marie Atkins Night Shelter on Hanover Street, were in high spirits as they sang Christmas carols and bonded at the respective locations.
THE STAR was in attendance for the treat at The Marie Atkins Night Shelter to witness performances from several of the residents who took centre stage singing carols such as Joy To The World and Silver Bells.
Others chose to show off their dance moves instead of their vocal talent, much to the delight of the high-spirited audience.
After the display of talent, persons soon received their Christmas dinner which included cake, sorrel and ham.
Care packages donated by numerous sponsors were also distributed to the residents who accepted with gratitude.
Interestingly, it turned out to be a 'each one, tell one' scenario as the demand outweighed the supply.
The treat had been advertised so convincingly from one homeless person to another that the resources were inadequate to cater to all in attendance.
THE STAR was informed that this was the seventh staging of the staple calendar event that has developed such a reputation that residents and homeless persons alike look forward to the treat with glee each year.
Janet Davey, director of community services for the probation arm, pledged her unwavering support for the event.
"It's an initiative that I encourage and support even though the resources are not readily available," she said.
She added, "They look forward to it. Everybody was basically early and the shelter staff and residents got tokens,".
Davey also took note of the growing popularity of the treat as she outlined that "last year was a little bit smaller than this year".
Sponsors included Cal's Manufacturing, First Caribbean International Bank, Jamaica Broilers and Jamaica Teachers' Association, Jamaica Money Market Brokers, National Commercial Bank and National Housing Trust among others.
Inspector of poor, Elaine Walker, highlighted the charitable and humanitarian efforts carried out on a daily basis.
Walker outlined that the shelter accommodates both male and female residents in dorms but "they have to be able bodied. They have to be able to help themselves like able to wash and tidy their surroundings,".
"These are persons who are coming off the streets but when they come in you have to retrain them and resocialise them example how to bathe themselves and even how to use a fork," she added.
On the other hand, she admitted that some homeless persons are commuters. "We have persons who live here but others just come and get their breakfast and have a bath and return to the street," Walker added.
Walker also advised that two medical doctors visit the shelter on a regular basis to attend to the health care of residents.