The Children’s Home Annual General Meeting (AGM) was held in May courtesy of the Ocean Terrace Inn who kindly donated the use of a room. Mr. Sebastian Mottram, Chairman of the Board of Directors greeted the capacity crowd and in his opening remarks he reminded Board Members and guest that the Children’s Home is “not sustainable without the help of the community.” It gave him great pleasure to see so many representatives from the Community in attendance.
However, this year’s AGM was met with a mixture of emotions as Mr. Mottram announced that this would be his last year on the Board. Sebastian has served the Children’s Home Board honorably during his tenure first as a Board member and then as the Chairman for nearly a decade. Looking out at the attendees he acknowledged the many guest of note among them, ex residents, political and community leaders.
Also leaving the Board is Mrs. Cleopatra Richards how has severed in the capacity of Treasurer
Among some of the attendees were Senator – Minister of State Hon. Wendy C. Phipps, Mr. Osbert DeSuza, Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, Mr. Duncan Wattley, Director of the Department of People’s Empowerment, Ms. Janella Lewis, Permanent Secretary – Ministry of Social and Community Development Culture and Gender Affairs and Ms. Connie Small, Finance Officer – Ministry of Social and Community Development Culture and Gender Affairs, all of which who took time out of their busy schedules to show support for the work of the Children’s Home. In an informal discussion, after the meeting, Minister Phipps recognized the challenges faced by the Children’s Home particularly in the area of funding and offered to give more assistance in the future. The hallmark annual event is the Annual Fun Run Walk which held on the first Saturdays in October. This year marks the 7th Annual Fun Run Walk scheduled for October 1st, 2016.
The outgoing Chairman reminded everyone that the Home is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) and as such relies heavily on private donations to make up the shortfall from the government stipend just to survive. This is truly a community project which supports children identified as “at risk” in the community that are placed at the Home by the Social Services.
Also, retiring from the Board of Directors this year is the Treasurer, Mrs. Cleopatra Richards. Mrs. Richards explained that the running costs of the home were in excess of $250,000 annually and the government stipend currently comes in at $20,000, this is a major shortfall. This is a no frills budget leaving very little for capital improvements other small extras for the children. Mrs. Richard hopes that the community can now understand why it is necessary to go to the community annually just to be in position to provide the bare essentials for running a household. This is a household with the capacity to house up to 30 children. Here at the Home children are provided with food, clothing, shelter, health care, counselling and 24 hour – 7 day a week house-parents and administrative staff.
Elaborating further on how important Community support is, Sebastian stated, “It is a great testament to the tenacity of a caring community, that this gap (of funding) was bridged by the innovation of our crucial fund raising activity, our Fun Run Walk.” To further illustrate his point Mr. Mottram used the words of South Africa’s Former President, Nelson Mandela: “Safety and security don’t just happen; they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear.”
The Marriott and the Royal St. Kitts Golf Club in particular are making up the core group of philanthropic and driven individuals who deserve particular recognition and thanks for their professional expertise and fluent execution. “Without their support, it is not an exaggeration to say that, the Home simply could not have continued and I thank them all so much on behalf of the children,” stated Chairman Mottram.
Mr. Mottram also singled out Ms. Margaret Stevens, the Children’s Home Administrator; Ms Kym Taylor, Secretary and the work of Debra Matthews at the Child Protection Agency for their outstanding contribution to the welfare of the children each and every day. “It is only through a concerted team effort that real results can be achieved.”
Whilst we cannot promise a life free of violence or fear, we really can and do make a difference, in the lives of the children entrusted to us we can make life a little easier for those in our care.
Chairman Mottram last official act was to welcome new board members, Mr. Tishon Thomas, Ms. Shifteh Honey and Ms. Naeemah Hazelle.
For more information about the St. Christopher Children’s Home visit our website www.childrenshome.org.kn and like us on Facebook – St. Christopher Children’s Home.