Rotary hosts mass distribution of building materials

The Rotary Clubs in Grand Bahama hosted its second building materials mass distribution on Friday, January 24, at the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA).

Area Governor for Rotary District 6990 in Grand Bahama Lisbeth Knowles spoke about the organization’s latest post-Dorian relief effort, during an interview on Tuesday, January 28.

Knowles said that Rotary has been gutting and conducting mould remediation efforts on homes in Hudson Estates and Regency Park. 

She added that when the initiative began, Rotarians would distribute building material door-to-door. “But it’s pretty tedious and it takes a while, therefore, we decided to do mass distributions instead.” 

The organization hosted a distribution exercise just before Christmas 2019 for residents in Hudson Estates; however, the most recent distribution was even bigger with about 3,000 sheetrock and more donated to those in need. 

Knowles revealed that this distribution focused on the homes that were already assessed. “We have assessed about 160 homes in Hudson, Regency and Hawksbill.” 

She added that assessments were accomplished in partnership with SBP, Global Medic and Town and Country. 

They have also assessed 25 to 30 homes in the Back-a-Town area. 

Knowles noted that the distribution was very organized, because the homeowners whose homes had already been assessed were called and instructed on what time to pick up their supplies. About 95 to 100 homeowners received supplies.

The event was organized by Rotary Club of Freeport Rotarian Darren Cooper and his team. She furthered that the Rotary organization plans to target Pioneers Loop and the area east of the Casuarina Bridge after finishing up in Hudson Estates and Regency Park. 

“A lot of people say that they are bypassed, and all the efforts are focused on East Grand Bahama, so we’ll go over the bridge and see if we can assist,” she said. 

Knowles commended the Rotary organization members for all of their hard work during the post-Dorian relief and rebuilding process, noting that they have been doing an amazing job. 

She also expressed appreciation for the donations that have assisted Rotary in its relief efforts. “We can’t thank people enough for all of the donations that we have been getting from here on the island.” 

She added that Equinor made a large donation from the beginning along with International partners. 

According to Knowles, the District has received a great deal. “Through our District we have been receiving about $600,000 in donations.” 

She added that the more they receive, the more they are able to do for the Grand Bahama community. 

She revealed that they have also been able to work with the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust of Miami, Global Medic and OBS Marine to help repair fishermen’s boats and provide new engines that were damaged by Dorian. 

The Rotary Clubs on Grand Bahama which include – Lucaya, Freeport, Sunrise, Sunset and Grand Bahama – have played a vital role in providing relief to residents on the island since Hurricane Dorian made landfall on September 1, 2019.

In October 2019 the organization hosted the donation of hospital supplies to the Rand Memorial Hospital, which was extensively damaged due to Dorian. The donation of hospital equipment valued at $60,000 and consisted of 28 beds, 50 wheelchairs, 60 walkers, and more. 

Rotary’s first donations were containers of food, water, generators, cleaning products and everyday supplies, treats for the children and clothing. Distributions began at FOWLCO warehouse on Queen’s Highway and then moved to the YMCA. 

Rotary partnered with the YMCA and Karon Pinder-Johnson (Executive Director), because supplies came in and they had corporate sponsors, partners, persons from all over the world sending containers filled with a wide array of items, including mattresses, air beds, cleaning supplies, toiletries, pens, pencils, bedding, towels and more. 

The organization put items in vehicles and delivered them to residents in the hardest hit areas, daily.

Rotarians also utilized Champs Community Centre across from our Rotary Foundation Water Plant, headed by President of the Grand Bahama Sunrise Crystal Lightbourne, as a distribution site.

Additionally, Pinder-Johnson launched an initiative dubbed “Love Coupon,” where persons in the area near the YMCA were able to exchange their coupons for much-needed items. On any given day, as much as 250 grocery bags with toiletries and water were collected by residents. 

According to organizers, whatever types of items given depended on what was in the warehouse that day.  “We experienced a steady flow of traffic every day, because the needs of the people are great and the Rotary clubs simply want to help.”

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