GBCH renovations near completion

NEAR COMPLETION – Repairs and renovations at the Grand Bahama Children’s Home are near completion and staff are ready to bring their young residents back home. Benefactors toured the facility recently and got an update of the progress of renovations. Pictured from left to right are Sherlyn Braithwaite, Family Guardian’s Mortgage Department, Manager; Sheila Johnson-Smith, GBCH Executive Director; Leslie Gelin, Family Guardian’s Home Service, District Manager; John Hepburn, Family Guardian’s Financial Agency, Manager and D´Sean Smith, Spartan Builders’ General Contractor\General Manager. (PHOTO: SHAYNE STUBBS)

Having to deal with the catastrophic damages to their facility as a result of Hurricane Dorian, back in September, 2019, the staff and young residents of the Grand Bahama Children Home (GBCH), anxiously await the completion of renovations.

The work was contracted to Spartan Builders, and according to D´Sean Smith, General Contractor\General Manager of the local construction company, the residents and staff should soon be able to enjoy the newly- refurbished facility.

“Currently we are in our wrap-up stage at the Grand Bahama Children’s Home … mainly just finished work yo be done,” Smith told this daily in a recent interview. “We are still doing improvements to the HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system.

“We are still awaiting finished materials such as the cabinets. Most of the flooring is in and so, we will start that process and complete the painting. We are pretty close to being done. There are a couple of buildings that need sliding door replacements, that we have also been waiting on. There were some delays, but all-in-all, mainly just finished work is to be done at this stage.

“Over the next couple of weeks, we should really be able to see the finish line,” expressed Smith.

GBCH Executive Director Sheila Johnson-Smith said that all eagerly await the completion of the renovations and she thanked the entire team of Spartan Builders for the exceptional work to the facility, thus far.

Thirty children, all residents of the GBCH, are presently in similar facilities in New Providence, where they have been residing since September 2019.

“We cannot wait for them to come home. My staffers are crying. The children are crying. The novelty of being in Nassau is over with. They are ready to come home and see their families, their friends and see the staff because we are all family to them. 

“They are ready and we are ready, but of course, the big elephant is the room is COVID-19. I have been in contact with the Department of Social Services and they are not prepared to move these children, which is correct, until we get the ‘all clear.’

“(That would be when Spartan Builders is finished with the repairs, of which they are doing a fantastic job. When they are finished and we get the ‘all clear’ we are going to have a big celebration, welcoming our children back home. The community wants the children back home and so do we,” she said.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, Johnson-Smith said that unfortunately, parents and guardians have come to the Home seeking assistance for minors in their care.

Many of them, she revealed noted that they are unable to provide for them (children) prior to the devastating impact the deadly disease.

“The sad thing that I really wish to share is that we have had several persons come here, with their children saying, ‘I do not have anything for my children. I do not have any place to go. Can you take my children?’

“That has been very difficult for us, because we know in disasters, where there is less economic prosperity, and we will have those type of things happening. And so, we need the home back up, opened and running as soon as the COVID-19 is over, whenever that will be,” Johnson-Smith said.

She pointed out the importance of the facility.

“This is a place of safety and protection for our children in the Northern Bahamas and so, we need to have that going for these children. It is difficult to face a parent, a mother, and she is crying for us to take her child, and we have no place to put them.

“That is a very difficult thing, for us who love children and love taking care of them. It is very difficult for us to say no. As soon as Spartan is completed and COVID (19) is over, our children will be home,” emphasized Johnson-Smith.

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