Charlestown-Nevis—It has always been a goal of Junior Minister in the Ministry of Social Development, Hon. Hazel Brandy-Williams, to put in place a subsidized transportation plan for the seniors of Nevis.
On Thursday 1st October 2015, that dream became a reality, when she officially launched the ‘free bus transportation program’ which has been designed for seniors over the age of 65 years. This initiative has been put in place through the collaborative efforts of the Nevis Island Administration through its Ministry of Social Development and the Nevis Bus Association.
Minister Brandy-Williams, in addressing the size able crowd of persons who had gathered at the War Memorial square in Charlestown, noted that the initiative was being launched on the day designated as the day of older persons and the day that significantly commenced the celebrations for the month of older persons.
She gave a historical background as regards improvements that the NIA, through her Ministry has added to the seniors’ program which was already established.
These include: Expanded weekly recreational programs; the SHAW (Sports, Health and Wellness) program, which includes free massages to some seniors at their homes and the water and electricity subsidized program which currently assists 275 persons.
She thanked the Bus Association for coming on board with the new initiative and noted that it was geared to seniors 65 years and older who needed to obtain a photo ID through the Social Services Department. She further revealed that apart from accessing free bus transportation on any of the buses bearing a specific logo, the photo ID will also enable seniors to be exempt from paying the $1.00 government tax when travelling on any of the ferries. She urged persons who qualify to get on board with the program and admonished the seniors to take good care of their ID cards.
She then officially presented the first ten seniors who had registered for the program with their photo IDS. Those persons were: Violet Perkins and Lorna Doras of St.James’ Parish; Allison Herbert and Nathaniel Parry of St.Thomas’; Gwenneth Maynard and Mildred Tyson of St.George’s; Fostena Stevens and Agnola Browne of St.Paul’s and Pauline Brister and Carmen Brookes of ST.John’s.
She then officially launched the free bus transportation initiative and also launched the month of older persons.
Prior to Minister Brandy-William’s address, the invocation was delivered by Ms Annie Brandy and opening remarks were given by chairperson of the proceedings, Deputy Director at the Social Services Department, Mrs. Kim Singh. In referring to the seniors, she noted: “We are encouraged to honour and celebrate them. They have given generously of their leadership, labour and love. We have to ensure that their golden years are not filled with misery…”
Coordinator at the seniors’ division, Mrs. Garcia Hendrickson, in her remarks, stressed on the theme for the older person’s month: ‘Sustainability and age inclusiveness in the urban environment.’ She however focused more on the sub theme: ‘Nothing for us, without us.’ In addressing the seniors, she said: “This is our way to say thank you…we appreciate you.’
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Social Development, Mr. Keith Glasgow, spoke on behalf of Premier Vance Amory, who was unavoidably absent.
He praised the efforts of the Hon. Hazel Brandy –Williams in keeping the dream of the bus transportation initiative on the front burner and seeing it to fruition. He also lauded the efforts of Minister Williams and Premier Amory, who he stated, both had a ‘passion for the seniors.’
Representative of the Bus Association, Mr. Charles Liburd also addressed the gathering and he pointed out that when the idea was brought to his association, ‘the guys had no problem with it.’ He stated that they would do what they can to help the seniors and encouraged them to ‘get on a bus. Even if you don’t have anything to do in town, jump on the bus, walk around. We will take care of you,’ he promised.
Brief remarks were also given by Mrs. Mildred Tyson who extended appreciation on behalf of all of the seniors to the NIA and the Bus Association. “We do appreciate what you are doing for us,; she stated.
A special presentation was also made to the Hon. Hazel Brandy-Williams on behalf of her mother, MS Susannah Brandy who was celebrating her 91st birthday on that same day. The fruit basket was presented by one of her care givers on behalf of the Ministry of Social Development in partnership with the City Drug store. Hon Williams in accepting the gift basket thanked all who had helped to care for her mother and noted that another St.James’ resident, Mr. William Douglas, would be celebrating his 101st birthday on the 8th of October.
The vote of thanks was given by Miss Ionie Swanston and then some of the seniors participated in a demonstration of the use of the photo ID card as they boarded one of the buses for a short ride around the square, after showing the driver their precious ID card.