HELP for Bog Walk elderly

Observer staff reporter

Monday, December 17, 2018

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UNCERTAIN as to whether she would be alive today to celebrate her 74th birthday and having no special plans, Iris Johnson made the most of yesterday's Christmas treat for the elderly in Bog Walk, St Catherine, which for her was an early birthday gift.

The annual event, which has been staged in the community for the past 13 years, was organised by HELP Outreach, a not-for-profit organisation which focuses primarily on assisting the elderly residents in the community and surrounding areas.

Yesterday the organisation catered to about 120 senior citizens, who were feted and presented with gift packages during the annual Christmas treat at Priority Plaza, where they were entertained. They enjoyed themselves immensely as they danced and lymed with their peers.

Johnson, who was among the appreciative senior citizens who turned out for the much-anticipated event, said this was her third time, and she made sure to attend this year as she would be celebrating her birthday today and was very certain that she would get a gift.

“Mi like how dem treat us, they treat us very nice, so I came for my early birthday gift, as I don't sure about tomorrow,” she said.

When asked what she would be doing today to celebrate, she said, “I don't know, maybe staying in and sleeping; I don't have nobody to give me anything or take me anywhere that's why I come today.”

According to her and many others who spoke with the Jamaica Observer, the treat was something that they looked forward to each year.

Leroy Williams, who was also on his third visit there, said, “I like it, I like the enjoyment and meeting with people my age. I always look forward to it.”

Another senior citizen, Derrick Williams, who was attending for the first time, said the treat is “very nice”.

“Thanks much to the people who put it on each year as it makes us old folks feel special and loved,” he said.

Founding member and president of the organisation Eusa Samuels said the treat is well supported and gets bigger each year.

“If one year comes and we don't have it they will stone us,” he said with a laugh.

However, he indicated that the need in the community is great and is growing, and pledged the organisation's commitment to continue to do its best through its soup kitchen, which provides meals for the elderly and shut-ins on Wednesdays, and also through its monthly home visits to the home of an elderly person who is assisted with grooming, as well as the organisation's annual health fair

“If we in the community who are able don't reach out and touch a life, and help somebody, well then, as I said years ago, without outreach like this we would all be blind. We all would be strangers, everybody would just be for themselves, so we want to change that one day at a time,” he said.

The president, while noting that the outreach is hampered in doing more because of a lack of transportation which is needed to carry the meals to the elderly, also expressed gratitude to members of the community who continue to support the organisation's efforts. These members were also recognised and presented with certificates of appreciation at the treat.

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