More than 200 seniors and their caregivers, including eight from Cayman Brac and one from Little Cayman, gathered for the annual Seniors’ Easter Celebration at the Family Life Centre on Monday (April 15, 2019).
The celebration was a joint initiative of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and the Seventh-day Adventist Community Services Department. The visit of the seniors from the Sister Islands was sponsored by Deputy Premier Moses Kirkconnell, one of the elected representatives for the two islands. Cayman Economy Cars donated transportation for the day-long excursion to Grand Cayman.
The annual affair was a beehive of activity as seniors entertained and were entertained during the lunch hour and into the early afternoon.
Seniors entertaining on stage included “Aunt Sookie [former MLA Daphne Orrett] and Friends” and Mr. Roy Bodden on guitar, while Dr. Curtis Barnett and his wife Christine treated their peers to a duet featuring the song “Uncle Gummy’s Cassava,” composed by Dr. Barnett just three weeks prior to the event. Dr. Barnett and Christine followed with an instrumental rendition of the hymn “I Serve a Risen Saviour,” on the guitar and alto recorder, respectively.
The programme also included musical performances by seniors drawn from the various districts.
Adding to the entertainment, youngster at Cayman Academy regaled the seniors with dramatic interpretations of songs, among other performances.
While the musical feast was underway, senior students of Cayman Academy waited on tables, demonstrating their growing prowess once again at an event in which they have been serving as waiters and waitresses for the past several years.
In addition to entertainment and the lunch fare, the seniors were engaged in concurrent roundtable discussions, arranged by Mrs. Cassandra Fearon, the DCFS social work manager for the Elderly Services Unit. Social workers and community development officers, along with pastors and other leaders from a range of churches, led discussions at each table.
Mrs. Fearon said that the response during the group discussions, in which members shared issues in their lives and sought to help each other, demonstrated the necessity and importance of these types of activities for seniors. Topics included healthy expression of emotions, working through unresolved issues, and concerns related to decreasing social circles, poor health, and other life changes.
Setting the tone for the roundtable discussions, the Rev. Mary Graham, Rector of St. George’s Anglican Church, spoke on exercising “faith in life’s journey.”
A facilitator at one of the tables, the Rev. Sylvia Wilks of the New Testament Church of God, commented to Mrs. Fearon at the conclusion of the celebratory event: “Well done. I am really grateful to be a part of this, and I am so glad I came.”
Another facilitator, Ms. Thelma Richards, who is supervisor for the Adult Special Needs Programme (operated via the various residential homes), said, “The clients were willing to open up and share their thoughts,” adding that the exchanges obviously brought a degree of emotional release.
Present for the occasion was Ms. Teresa Echenique, Chief Officer for the Ministry of Human Resources, Immigration and Community Affairs, who delivered the opening remarks. Ms. Echenique could be seen going from table to table during the roundtable discussions, warmly greeting participants.
Commenting at the close of the event, Ms. Echenique said: “The value of our older persons far exceeds what words could express,” adding: “Their hard work and dedication provided the foundation for us and opened opportunities that have allowed us to advance to where we are today.”
It was therefore fitting to honour them at this Easter celebration, she said, adding: “We give thanks for the opportunity that we have to celebrate and enjoy our older persons.”
Ms. Echenique thanked the Adventist Community Services Department for “collaborating with her ministry and the DCFS in organizing another successful event.”
For the Adventist Church, it was all hands aboard, as volunteers worked an assembly line behind the scenes and senior students of Cayman Academy weaved their way from table to table in the packed hall, expertly balancing trays laden with lunch boxes, drinks, and dessert.
Notable as they were in their front and centre role, the black-and-white liveried student waiters and waitresses moving gracefully through the hall attracted many compliments.
Mrs. Eula Glidden, wife of the late Cline Glidden Snr. (who served as serjeant-at-arms of the Legislative Assembly for 15 years) and mother of former MLA Cline Jnr., singled out student Malik Copeland for special mention.
Ms. Eula remarked that Malik was “quite professional in the way he served, with one hand placed smartly behind his back, and charmed us all with his pleasant smile.”
Closing the event, Cayman Academy Deputy Principal Jewel Meikle, who served as masters of ceremonies jointly with Social worker Genevieve Tomlinson, reminded seniors that the rewards of “nourish[ing] friends and family” are reaped in the golden years.