Over 150 given free medicals by Icons of Annotto Bay

Over 150 given free medicals by Icons of Annotto Bay

BY KIMBERLEY HIBBERT
Senior staff reporter
hibbertk@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, August 09, 2020

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ICONS of Annotto Bay, a non-profit organisation which operates from Jamaica and the United States, last Wednesday catered to over 150 youngsters with free back-to-school medicals and school supplies aimed at easing the added financial pressure COVID-19 has brought to Annotto Bay and the sea coast town's environs.

Founders, husband and wife team of Wyatt “Spur” Williams and Odette Smith-Williams, told the Jamaica Observer that the decision to form Icons of Annotto Bay came in 2018 following a spate of violence in the community.

“I live in New York City (NYC) and I'm a teacher. In NYC the young black men are always at odds with the cops. One day I was walking down the street and saw a sign from the NYCPD (New York City Police Department) where they were hosting a day of sporting activities with the young kids in the community and I said to my husband maybe we could do something like that in Annotto Bay and we came up with the idea for six-a-side night football. That's how we got started,” Smith-Williams said.

She added that following the football competition, the group in tandem with other directors—Pat Hucey, another husband and wife team of Dr Alekya Daram and Dr Nagendra Babu Chandolu; Angella Williamson, Dawn Allen, and Maxine Bendor Robinson— started to focus on other ways they could uplift the community. This came in the form of education, sports and health.

“With health we focused on the elderly and the kids. With the elderly we do home visits and the care packages. For the kids we do the back-to-school medical. In terms of sports, we would provide resources to the schools — those involved in soccer. To cater to education we provide resources like books, pencils, pens and the various resources that schools need. As a team we sit and discuss innovative ways in which we can really reach out to citizens in Annotto Bay and its environs,” Smith-Williams said.

The back-to-school medical fair also got assistance from Missionaries of the Poor, however, some residents expressed their gratitude for the initiative.

“I came to do the medical for my son and I also checked my glucose and cholesterol. Without the free medical it would cost upwards of $2,000 to do the medical. Since COVID-19 it has been rough, so this came at the right time,” Lisa-Marie Hudson said.

For Oliver Hunter, another resident, though he owns his blood glucose monitor and blood pressure machine, the initiative was great for the community, as many individuals struggle to make ends meet and care for their health.

Minta Hibbert, 86, also lauded the initiative and the help it rendered to children and the elderly.

“I came for a doctor's appointment but because of the fair, I did not get the check-up but I benefited from the talks and I am happy the children got through. I was also given a walker to help me as I have arthritis in the knee,” Hibbert said.

Since 2018, Icons of Annotto Bay has helped over 500 people in the Annotto Bay community and nearby villages through various ventures to include an annual health fair, dinner and awards ceremony for retired persons who have served the community, the football competition and the distribution of care packages.

“Our motto is 'Uplifting those in need'. When you move around on the ground and see so many people in need – vulnerable people with no one to assist them – it is so hard to pass them by and not assist. When we assess the situation we realise we have our work cut out for us. The vulnerable cannot be left alone. Our goal is to continue as an organisation to uplift people. We want to grow where we can cater to all of St Mary and if we can reach other parishes, that would be great,” Smith-Williams said.


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