As a result of a recent benefit concert to aid families across the Cayman Islands adversely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, some 60 families will shortly begin receiving food packages.
The packages of food are being distributed this week by the Manna House Pantry operated by Mrs. Shirlene Henriques, a member of the team of the Cayman Chapter of the Northern Caribbean University (NCU) Alumni Association, which organized the concert. Items collected at the charge-free event (September 26, 2020) were supplemented by donations totalling more than $500, including a gift certificate from Cost-U-Less.
In addition to Mrs. Henriques, concert and food drive organisers included Mrs. Georgia Isaacs, the Cayman Alumni Chapter’s VP for Social and Cultural Affairs; alumnus Robert Lynch; and Mrs. Angela Hall, who is known in her own right for her role in wider community services.
Mrs. Henriques has equipped the impressive food pantry at her home with commercial grade refrigerators, freezers, and stoves. Wheelchair bound, Mrs. Henriques operates in collaboration with the Cayman Food Bank since it was established in December 2017 by Fosters’ Food Fair entrepreneurs Messrs. Woody Foster, Choppy Delapenha, Charles Blucher, and Ms. Marie Eden.
With the support of the Food Bank and other generous contributors, including Hurley’s Supermarket, which donates surplus pastry weekly, and the Lions Club of Grand Cayman, the Manna House Pantry has been supplying some 40-plus families, at locations from Frank Sound to West Bay. This service has been ongoing on a weekly basis since 2018.
This weekly distribution was complemented during the Cayman pandemic lockdown (March through end of May) by a distribution of 107 hot meals, four days weekly, donated by the Seven Mile Beach Tillie’s Restaurant. Distribution was undertaken by the Adventist Community Services Department, of which Mrs. Angela Hall is director.
In administering the Manna House Pantry Mrs. Henriques collaborates closely with Mrs. Hall and the Adventist Church’s headquarters in Cayman. As part of its pandemic response, the Cayman Islands Conference of Seventh-day Adventist has stepped up its support of its regular community services’ regimes through its church’s across Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac.
“The Adventist Church is very conscious that the pandemic has brought extra stress to the lives of so many people,” President of the Conference Pastor Reinaldo Dracket said in commending the outreach by so many persons across Cayman’s communities.
“As a Church we believe in carrying out the mandate of Jesus in caring for the needs of people. These needs can be physical, emotional, social or spiritual. In the words of Jesus, ‘In as much as you did it for the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me,’” Pastor Dracket said.
For Mrs. Henriques, the idea of the bustling Manna House Pantry initiative evolved from a 12-member Bodden Town Adventist Church Sabbath School class (the equivalent of a Sunday School class) looking for a community service project of its own.
The group settled on establishing a soup kitchen, and soon began delivering 20 cups of soup twice monthly. Today, that small beginning has grown into a well-established operation in which 118 cups of soup are delivered twice monthly to families in the area.
Over time the soup kitchen, Mrs. Henriques said, “took on a life of its own,” and, today, the little Bodden Town church itself has assumed funding of the soup kitchen’s operations, administered entirely by volunteers.
Commenting on the collaboration between the Cayman Chapter and the Manna House Pantry in meeting needs at this difficult time for many families, Ms. Patricia Ebanks, president of the local alumni association, said: “As alumni committed to enhancing life in the Cayman community, we have derived a great deal of satisfaction from the outcome of this recent food drive, and we are very grateful for the services of Mrs. Henriques and her team in affording us this opportunity.”
Ms. Ebanks thanked the members of the public and Cost-U-Less who so generously contributed food and financial gifts to the benefit concert food drive, the entire alumni association team, as well as the many artistes who contributed via their performances at the concert.
Members of the public who may have needs that are not currently being reached by the Manna House Pantry or other similar initiatives are invited to contact Mrs. Henriques, at 325-9917. Persons interested in donating food or financial gifts may contact Mrs. Henriques at this number also.
The NCU Alumni Association Cayman Chapter’s recent benefit concert marked the sixth anniversary of the Cayman Chapter, whose aim is to contribute to the improvement of life in the Cayman Islands while supporting the role of the Northern Caribbean University.
Currently, two students are attending the Jamaica-based university on Chapter scholarships, one funded by a community member who wishes to remain anonymous.
Any qualifying person, regardless of religious affiliations, may apply for available scholarships by the Cayman Chapter to attend NCU.
In a separate sponsorship initiative, the Chapter recently collected donations totalling more than US$10,000 to meet students’ emergency needs precipitated by the pandemic. These scholarships are administered by a federation of worldwide NCU alumni chapters. For a link to federation scholarship applications, visit https://forms.gle/Tcc7XD3ohaJhUyni6, and for details on the ongoing Federation fundraising initiative, visit https://app.mobilecause.com/vf/NCUCARE/team/TeamCayman.
NCU is a fully accredited tertiary educational institution, offering degrees in a wide range of majors up to the doctoral level, and has distinguished itself in recent years in the fields of information technology and science. In July 2019, the university retained first place in Jamaica’s National Science and Technology Competition hosted by that country’s Scientific Research Council (SRC).
According to the Jamaica Observer, NCU’s President, Dr Lincoln Edwards, commented at the time said that “the performance of the students and their faculty leaders continued to demonstrate the institution's ‘growing reputation as a centre for applied research’”. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/career-education/ncu-dominates-national-s-t-competition_169767?profile=1286&template=MobileArticle
This focus on applied research included, the Jamaica Observer reported, “the recent launch of Zon Teasan, a nutraceutical product that resulted from initial scientific work done by NCU researchers.”
The NCU Alumni Association Federation on Thursday (October 22) signed a contract with the Jamaica-based producer of Zon Teason in a ceremony attended by Jamaica’s Prime Minister.
Under the terms of the contract, the alumni Federation will spearhead the nutraceutical’s international distribution, profits from which will fund scholarships and other initiatives conducive to the growth of NCU. The local alumni chapter anticipates participating in the Cayman distribution of the nutraceutical.
Membership in the local alumni association is open not only to alumni but also to anyone––regardless of religious affiliations––who wishes to be involved in the chapter’s activities. For further information, visit https://www.ncucaymanalumni.com.
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