‘Mad­house’ he­roes for the needy

Jamaica Gleaner - - SPORTS - Okoye Henry Gleaner Writer

WEST­ERN BU­REAU: N JA­MAICA’S Na­tional He­roes Day, an un­con­ven­tional set of he­roes were on the job in six parishes across the is­land. Thanks to their over­whelm­ing hu­man­i­tar­ian act, close to 1,000 homeless per­sons were treated to hot, cooked meals as well as other well-needed items.

The 80 mem­bers and vol­un­teers of the Ja­maican Mad­house Team, based in the United States, were un­der­tak­ing the sec­ond of what is pro­jected to be an an­nual event, in St James, Kingston, St Cather­ine, St Ann, Claren­don, and Port­land.

In­deed, it was all smiles from the 836 needy in­di­vid­u­als who par­took in the ‘He­roes Day Din­ner’ on Mon­day.

Ac­cord­ing to Shena Carty, who spear­headed the mul­ti­parish ini­tia­tive, this year’s mis­sion was a huge ac­com­plish­ment for the team, which last year fed some 47 in­di­vid­u­als between Old Har­bour and May Pen.

“Our goal this year was to feed 100 per­sons between Old Har­bour, May Pen, Span­ish Town and Kingston, but quickly the num­bers started grow­ing as other parishes got in­volved,” Carty told The Sun­day Gleaner. “We an­tic­i­pated 300 but came up with a stag­ger­ing 836, with Kingston and Span­ish Town alone hav­ing 525.”

It is un­der­stood that the team that was based in Mon­tego Bay fed 73 per­sons, while the Ocho Rios and Port­land teams fed 123 and 60 per­sons, re­spec­tively.

“The vol­un­teers were happy to go out and sup­port the needy. It was a self­less act. On a hol­i­day when many oth­ers cel­e­brated with fam­ily and friends, the sac­ri­fice was made for strangers who are less for­tu­nate,” said Carty. “The re­cip­i­ents were grate­ful and gra­cious. Many ex­pressed that they hadn’t had food in days, and some were even ask­ing for clothes and money.”

She shared that the project ex­posed a few of the so­cial is­sues the coun­try faced, not­ing that drug ad­dic­tion seemed to play a huge role in the num­ber of homeless per­sons they en­coun­tered on the streets.

OMISSING REL­A­TIVES

“The ma­jor­ity of the peo­ple we fed were drug ad­dicts liv­ing in bus parks in Ocho Rios and St Ann’s Bay. It’s alarm­ing that this pop­u­la­tion has grown so sig­nif­i­cantly. I think we must now put our heads to­gether and fig­ure out how to best tackle the prob­lem of drug ad­dic­tion and home­less­ness in our com­mu­ni­ties,” stated Carty.

In­ter­est­ingly, af­ter last year’s ini­tial stag­ing, Carty said the or­gan­i­sa­tion re­ceived ‘thank you’ mes­sages from per­sons who saw miss­ing rel­a­tives in pho­to­graphs pub­lished of the event.

While the project is the brain­child of the Ja­maican Mad­house Team, Carty said their ef­forts were bol­stered by funds and sup­plies do­nated by lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional en­ti­ties.

NO EASY TASK

‘It’s not an easy task plan­ning and co­or­di­nat­ing a ven­ture like this from New York, but we did it,” she said. “Plan­ning, com­mu­ni­ca­tion and ex­e­cu­tion were the keys to mak­ing 2016 a suc­cess. Like I al­ways say, ‘team­work makes the dream work’.”

Ja­maican Mad­house is al­ready mak­ing plans for next year’s project. The plan is to tar­get at least 2,000 homeless per­sons across the en­tire is­land.

“We en­cour­age any­one who would like to be a part of this event to con­tact me, Shena Carty, via Face­book or 518-812-3398 via What­sApp, or any other mem­ber you know from the or­gan­i­sa­tion. All do­na­tions of funds, goods, time and sup­plies are ac­cepted and ap­pre­ci­ated,” said Carty.

She added, “There may pos­si­bly be a sweet treat planned for Easter for ev­ery par­ish. Please, I’m ask­ing you to join us in mak­ing a dif­fer­ence on our is­land. One team, one dream.”

Mad­house’s work in Ja­maica ac­tu­ally con­tin­ues next Satur­day, as the West­more­land team will be fa­cil­i­tat­ing din­ner next at Beck­ford Plaza, start­ing at 2 p.m., with a plan to feed 50 per­sons. Team Ocho Rios rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Ja­maican Mad­house Team (stand­ing at back) shar­ing a mo­ment with some of the homeless per­sons they fed.

Nearly 1,000 homeless per­sons fed on He­roes Day

Team Mon­tego Bay rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Ja­maican Mad­house Team get­ting ready to hand out food and sup­plies to the homeless.

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