THE Curran family forewent their usual Christmas celebrations and donated the money to the Portland Relief Fund to assist in providing houses for two families in the parish that were ravaged by Hurricane Sandy, when it made landfall last October.
The grateful recipients of the houses are Marlene Wilson and her common-law husband Cyprian Palmer, and Monica McBean from Grant’s Gate, Fruitful Vale, Portland.
Donor Shelly-Ann Curran, on hearing about the devastation in the parish, said she called a family meeting and the decision was taken to donate the money they would have spent on the annual Christmas celebrations.
“We had a family meeting, as I know the plight of the people, and we discussed it and decided that we will not have any Christmas presents, no exchange, nothing as we wanted to do something good,” she said.
As such, they were able to contribute US$6,500 and this was matched by Food for the Poor — the non-profit organisation that has been building low-income housing for families who lost their dwellings.
“We are just grateful for the opportunity and hope that your Christmas was great, for this is the purpose of giving back : to make a family happy,” Curran said, as she presented Wilson with the keys to her new home.
Curran said she wanted to use the opportunity to encourage more people to give back to those who are less fortunate.
“One family can make a difference;we don’t have to wait on Government; we don’t have to wait on big entities, because as individuals we can come together and make sacrifices,” Curran told the Jamaica Observer North East, adding that her family is now convinced that it was the best decision they could have made.
Fourteen-year-old Dajah Curran was happy they made the sacrifice.
“It really means a lot to know you can put a smile on someone’s face for something that seems so simple to us, and it was really good to know that you can make someone’s life so much better,” she said with a smile.
Wilson cried tears of joy as she was presented with the keys to her dwelling.
“I say thanks very much, I am so happy because I didn’t have a home for myself,” she said, tears streaming down her cheeks.
“It’s like I’m dreaming. I can’t believe that I have a home for myself, and I thank you very much, very, very much, and I am going to take very good care of it.”
Founder of the Portland Relief Fund and Member of Parliament for West Portland Daryl Vaz said he gets satisfaction from seeing an appreciative smile or a tear of joy from those who benefit from the fund, which was set up to help persons who were badly affected by the category one storm.
“Here we have a family who is not only involved with the fund but have gone further by making a personal donation through their sacrifices from Christmas for the victims and persons who are still affected by the hurricane and they have done this out of the goodness of their heart,” he said.
The fund has so far, raised J$20 million in donations.
Jacqueline Johnson of Food for the Poor lauded the family for what they did.
“I got a call one afternoon from the Curran family and they said instead of having a regular Christmas day they will be giving the money to a family that was affected and they just simply asked ‘how much would it be?” I just gave them the amount and in another week or so I got the cheque,” she said.
These two houses are in addition to the 30 that will be distributed through the fund, across St Mary, Portland and St Thomas.