#TurksandCaicos, January 24, 2023 – The Salvation Army Brighter Futures Community Center held its grand opening Saturday, January 24th. The event brought together supporters, dignitaries, and the general public in a celebration of a brand-new facility dedicated to the development of youth in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
“Tonight, we celebrate over ten years of fundraising, planning, and construction”, Salvation Army TCI Advisory Board Chairperson stated, “this facility will provide the children of our nation hope”. Foss explained that he knew they could not raise the $2.6 million needed to purchase the land and construct the building by holding traditional fundraisers. “We did not want to impact our regular fundraising which supports several programs such as the hot lunch program for at-risk students, textbook and school uniform initiatives, food insecurity assistance, the seniors’ transportation program in Middle Caicos, or any of the other good work that occurs regularly in our islands. We focused on private donations, and even then, we were careful not to disrupt the funding of other local non-profits also doing great work”.
Foss explained that it took several years to get their first large donation. A donation that gave them the confidence and hopes that they could eventually reach their goal, “the first major step toward the reality of what we were trying to do came when the Salvation Army Bahamas and the Salvation Army International organizations donated the funds to purchase the land, which we did immediately. Before the land was purchased, I would go to people and ask them if they would donate to the facility and they would say, ‘where will it be built’? and I would have to say that I did not know yet. People are generous by nature and they want to help good causes, but they also want to know that they are donating to something that is going to happen”.
Once the land was purchased and the site of the center was known, he states that things started to change when he approached possible donors, “now that we had a site, I could give my pitch with confidence and four years into the effort we received a $50 000 donation from Canadians Dale and Wendy Papke of Ports of Call. That donation gave me hope. While we managed several $5000 and $10 000 donations, we still had a long way to go until I met the David and Julie Brown family, also from Canada. The Brown family loves the Turks and Caicos Islands and makes it their home many months of the year. They also care about young people and want to provide as many opportunities as possible. They were game changers with a total commitment of $750 000 toward the project.”
In his address to the crowd on Saturday night, Foss explained that it was not just money that was needed to get the project built, but expertise and assistance. “Not only did the Brown Family offer critical financial support, but the entire family also including their son Kyle helped me produce a marketing plan and materials. When you have like-minded caring people helping you do the heavy lifting, it becomes easier to move forward. We found an amazing contractor in Phillip ‘Skintight’ Handfield to build the facility at cost. Another huge step forward occurred when Mark and Anna Parrish offered their support. Mark, owner of the quantity surveying firm Concept Plus agreed to project manage the construction process as a volunteer. Anna donated all the stone and ceramic tiles along with most of the windows for the building”.
The volunteer Advisory Board Chair said momentum was on their side and they began building the facility before they had all the funding needed in place. He stated, “we had momentum, and we didn’t want to lose it by waiting for all the money and we were confident once people could see the construction occurring, they would lend their support. We started the build just before the pandemic and were cruising along with donations continuing to come forward. However, during the pandemic, the cost of construction materials began to rise dramatically and suddenly we were going to be short approximately $200 000 to cover the increases. I made an appeal to the members of the Turks and Caicos Hotel and Tourism Association (TCHTA) and within forty-eight hours we had raised the extra funds to complete the facility. It was an incredible show of caring corporate citizenship”.
The building consists of the Salvation Army church, a large multi-purpose event center, an early childhood education classroom, and a commercial community kitchen to be used to supply hot lunches to at-risk students in government schools, counseling rooms, and the Salvation Army TCI administration offices. Eventually, the facility will include a community garden and will become a certified hurricane shelter for the general public.
Foss said he and his wife Leslie, a volunteer responsible for all Salvation Army TCI fundraising events, are humbled by the opportunity to be involved and excited to see the building completed and in use. Most importantly, Todd Foss let it be known that the theme of the building is Hope and that it will be home to other non-profits offering hope to the youth of Turks and Caicos, “since 2007 the Salvation Army TCI has done amazing work in our country, all without a permanent facility. Not having a facility made things challenging. We want other youth-based non-profit organizations to call the Brighter Futures Community Center home so they can expand their work. We are excited to offer the use of the facility to Jr. Achievement TCI, the TCHTA Little Chefs program, the TCHTA Hospitality Program, The TCI Youth Parliament, the Police Youth Band, and others. In addition, we look forward to joint partnerships with amazing organizations such as the Ed Garland Youth Center”.
As the facility began to rise, so did violent crime among the Island’s young population, making the Brighter Futures Community Center more important than ever. Foss suggested that “too often I see people suggesting that troubled youth is a government problem to solve, or it is the parent’s fault, or I hear a lot of what is the Governor doing or why are the police not arresting all the bad people. The truth is that at-risk youth is a complex issue with no easy solution, but whatever the solution it is up to all of us to be a part of it. The Salvation Army TCI Brighter Futures Community Center’s purpose is to bring Hope to the youth of our country and Hope is the best tool to guide young people down a path towards a positive life”.
Sponsored by the Salvation Army Bahamas and the generous donations of Mr. Frank Crothers, the Salvation Army began work in Turks and Caicos in 2007. In 2011, it became the 131st country to receive official country status within the organization. Formed in 1865, the International Salvation Army operates in 133 countries and is the second-largest non-profit organization in the world. It is an integral part of the Christian Church with objectives to advance the Christian religion while providing important humanitarian work in education, relief of poverty, and other charitable efforts benefiting society and the community of mankind as a whole.
Medical Council of Jamaica Announces more CME hours for Doctors
KINGSTON, September 19, 2023 (JIS) – Medical doctors will be required to complete two additional hours of Continuing Medical Education (CME) specifically dedicated to mental health and wellness in order to renew their practising certificates come January 2024.
The Medical Council of Jamaica (MCJ) noted that this critical update forms part of its commitment to advancing the healthcare system and ensuring doctors are well-equipped to meet the prevailing mental health demands.
“This increase moves the total required CME hours from 20 to 22, enhancing doctors’ ability to address the mental health implications of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. The decision to introduce these additional CME hours is driven by the Medical Council of Jamaica’s commitment to prioritise the well-being of both patients and healthcare professionals,” the MCJ stated.
The Council reasoned that COVID-19 has highlighted the pressing need for mental health support, with healthcare workers facing unprecedented challenges, experiencing increased stress and witnessing the emotional toll the pandemic has taken on patients.
To support doctors in meeting the new CME requirement, MCJ Registrar, Professor Howard Spencer, shared that the Council will provide access to a range of accredited providers and resources offering relevant mental health and wellness courses.
“The Medical Council of Jamaica encourages all doctors to proactively engage in these additional CME hours well in advance of the renewal deadline in early 2024, to ensure a seamless continuation of their practice,” he emphasised.
The Council added that the focus on mental health and wellness will empower doctors with the knowledge and skills to provide comprehensive and compassionate care to patients experiencing challenges in this area.
Commenting on the new requirement, Consultant Psychiatrist and Public Health Specialist, Dr. Earl Wright, underscored that the additional CME hours are a win-win for doctors.
“It’s not only enhancing the doctors’ care of the patient but doctors need to take care of themselves also. This will help to prevent doctor burnout. Doctors are sometimes under severe stress for long periods of time. So enhancing the doctors’ ability to take care of themselves, they’re also enhancing their ability to take care of all their patients,” he remarked.
For more information about the new CME requirement, visit www.jamaicamedicalcouncil.org.
Prime Minister Holness opens Maypen to Williamsfield Leg of Southern Coastal Highway
#Kingston, September 19, 2023 – The May Pen to Williamsfield leg of the Southern Coastal Highway Improvement Project (SCHIP) was officially opened by Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, on Thursday (September 14).
The thoroughfare, which represents part A of the SCHIP, now significantly reduced travel time between the parishes of Clarendon and Manchester and will offer a multitude of economic and social benefits to users.
Speaking during the segment’s opening ceremony, Prime Minister Holness hailed the development as “a step in improving the general quality of life for all Jamaicans”.
“[It is] a step in improving the productivity of all Jamaicans. You can easily measure the productivity gained of this road by the productivity lost in traffic, discomfort and the aggression it creates in driving on some of the other bad roads,” he said.
Mr. Holness noted that some of the anticipated benefits of the new roadway include connecting workers to jobs, improving the response time of the security forces, and improving and lowering the cost for delivering agricultural outputs to market.
“In so many ways, building your infrastructure improves well-being,” he emphasised.
The Prime Minister also announced that the highway’s usage will be at no cost to motorists until the end of the calendar year, on December 31, 2023. After this period, toll rates will be applied.
Mr. Holness further pointed out that the scope of work for the highway included a new four-lane bridge across the Rio Minho to increase the area’s resilience to weather events.
The project also features a two-year defects liability phase, the Prime Minister said, while noting that, “during this phase, the contractor will have to fix any project-related defects”.
It was implemented by the National Road Operating and Constructing Company Limited (NROCC), under the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation.
For his part, NROCC Managing Director, Stephen Edwards, described the highway’s opening as “a momentous occasion in infrastructure development in Jamaica”.
Dubbing the project as a “giant leap forward for the parishes of Clarendon and Manchester and for all Jamaicans”, Mr. Edwards informed that the contract’s implementation commenced in 2019.
He detailed that the development features a 23-kilometre four-lane highway with adiamond interchange and Florida-T at May Pen, a separated interchange at Toll Gate, an interchange at Melrose, four bridges, 17 concrete box crossings, upgrading of approximately five kilometres of roadway along the Melrose Bypass to a four-lane dual carriageway, a police post at Toll Gate, safety fences, concrete median barriers, and the installation and expansion of fibre optics.
“We believe… we have delivered a modern highway that the people of Jamaica can be proud of,” Mr. Edwards added.
Minister of Science, Energy, Telecommunications and Transport, Hon. Daryl Vaz, in his remarks, said the highway’s opening is “a pivotal junction in our nation’s transportation history”.
“This remarkable highway will undoubtedly reshape this side of the island and its network and elevate collective journeys towards progress. This occasion is also a testament to the dedication in providing safer roads and enhanced connectivity for all Jamaicans,” Mr. Vaz stated.
Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Hon. Everald Warmington, also spoke highly of the road development.
He expressed that the new leg of the country’s highway network represents “more than just concrete, steel and asphalt”.
“It signifies development, connectivity, and the promise of a brighter future for all those who traverse the south coast of this country,” Mr. Warmington said.
He added that a well-planned, efficient transportation network is the backbone of any thriving nation, as it connects people, fosters economic growth and enhances the quality of life for citizens.
Multi Pronged Approach in St. Ann to Tackle Dengue
Montego Bay September 19 (JIS) – The St. Ann Health Department has adopted a multipronged approach in the fight against dengue fever as the parish reports an increase in suspected cases of the mosquito-borne disease.
Addressing the monthly meeting of the St Ann Municipal Corporation on September 14, Medical Officer of Health for St. Ann, Dr. Tamika Henry, said although the country is not currently in outbreak mode, the parish is on high alert due to the endemic nature of dengue in Jamaica.
She explained that the multipronged strategy includes surveillance, case management, health education, human resource reinforcement, larvicidal and adulticidal activities, source reduction, external stakeholder engagement, and continuous monitoring and evaluation.
Active and passive surveillance methods are being employed to detect suspected cases early. This involves healthcare personnel actively searching for symptoms at hospitals and health centres, ensuring prompt intervention when necessary.
“We have a nurse that is stationed at the hospital; she’s our hospital active surveillance nurse. She goes from ward to ward, as well as in the outpatient department, accident and emergency, looking to see if there’s anybody who matches the case definition for dengue because, of course, we want to pick up things very early,” Dr. Henry said.
She noted that the health department has bolstered its human resources, employing 26 permanent vector control workers across its five health districts.
To manage the situation effectively, high-risk communities have been identified and targeted for intervention by workers, including larvicidal activities aimed at mosquito breeding sites.
Dr. Henry outlined that health education and promotion efforts are widespread, involving various public health nurses, public health inspectors and community health aides.
“We have public health nurses going out. Public health inspectors are in their zonal areas on a day-to-day basis; they, too, do health education. We have our Community Health Aides, who have been doing house-to-house visits, reminding persons about searching and destroying,” she said.
Dr. Henry noted that the Ministry of Education and Youth is also engaged, with dengue lesson plans being implemented in schools.
“One of our age groups of concern is five to 14. So, we engage with them [Ministry] and they have again rolled out their dengue lesson plan in the schools, and the children are doing their search-and-destroy activity during their activity session,” she added.
Since the start of 2023, St. Ann has received 17 notifications of suspected dengue cases. One case has been confirmed that involves a 13-year-old male who presented with fever, headache, eye pain, and nausea.
Dr. Henry disclosed that nearly half of these cases, approximately 48 per cent, match the case definition for dengue, a significant increase compared to 2022.
In 2022, the parish had 10 reported cases with only one being confirmed as dengue fever.
“More males are being reported than females in 2023, and we recognise that there are two particular age groups of concern – 5 to 14 age group, that is our primary school going up to our high school, as well as our 24 to 44 age group,” Dr. Henry shared.
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