In recognition of International Volunteer Day, the Council for Voluntary Social Services/National Volunteer Centre hosted its sixth annual "Day of Care" for the homeless in downtown Kingston.
It was held in St. William Grant Park, which is the centre of The Parade and the downtown core: the place where all the buses finish their routes to "town"; the place where all the markets are located; the place that is awash with hawkers (higglers), street people and all sadness of humanity that you could imagine trying to stay alive on the streets.
The day provided meals, clothing, hygiene bags (tissue, toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, wash cloth), eye exams, blood pressure and blood sugar testing, HIV/AIDS testing, mental health counseling, and hair cuts and manicures. We had planned to have physicians for general health checks, but they did not arrive - we must confirm this for next year as there was a huge demand for all the medical services.
It was certainly chaotic at times, particularly when the clothing station opened; and also when the lunches arrived on Jamaica time - two hours late! People had been lining up for two hours for the food for two hours, fortunately in the shade of the trees.
The Day of Care takes a lot of organization, many volunteers, donated goods, and financial support to buy the things we cannot receive by donation. Thank you to everyone who supported the event and made it a successful day.
Jamaica's finest, the Jamaican Constabulary Force, were there to help
Registration desk - that's Alex in the white shirt, a fellow CUSO volunteer; and Eileen in yellow from the Hellshire Kiwanis; and Ann-Marie in the blue shirt. The ladies from the Kiwanis were incredibly helpful and hardworking - they even gave me a ride home! And Alex is moving back to Canada on Tuesday - thanks and well wishes to you, Alex!
One of our customers
The girls from St. John's Ambulance doing blood pressure checks
Two ladies enjoy the attention of the day
Three ladies enjoying their mid-morning soup and patties, thanks to the generosity of Juicie Patties
A customer, carrying his belongings on his back
Volunteers sorting and preparing the clothing distribution
Trying to manage the crowd awaiting the clothing
The lads from the Boys Brigade organized and were central at the clothing station
The "Bashy Bus" from Children First, who provided the HIV/AIDs testing, hair cuts, and manicures
The United Way of Jamaica was a major supporter - thank you!