The prayers of the Grand Bahama Children’s Home were answered when a local financial institution donated a much-needed power generator valued at more than $30,000 to the facility on Thursday. The home, which was in dire need of a generator following Hurricane Matthew, was presented with a 240kw Caterpillar generator capable of generating power to its entire facility on Jobson Avenue where the facility cares for some 27 children.
Fidelity Bank President Gregory Bethel was in Freeport for the presentation and said that another corporate citizen, Mechanical and Engineering (M&E), has agreed to maintain the generator at no cost to the home. Sheila Smith Johnson, executive director of the GBCH, was overjoyed when she learned that Fidelity Bank was donating a generator, which she had just prayed for a week earlier. The GBCH, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, depends on donations from the community and corporate citizens to keep the home running. The facility has cared for some 4,000 children since its founding. Board member Leslie Baptista thanked the group of volunteers who throughout the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew lent them generators and supplied gas. "To not have power and have up to 30 children running around scared, hungry and tired - it was a tremendous village effort. And this day is a wonderful day,” she said.
Willie Moss, the co-chair of the 40th Anniversary Celebrations Committee, said the home had been a “haven” for some 4,000 children over the past four decades. “It’s been a place of safety, not just during the time of hurricanes, but for those who are neglected, abused, or find themselves on hard times,” Ms Moss said. “It’s been a place of care, not just a roof over the heads of the children who come here, but a place for them to receive the kind of care, attention, and love that they perhaps could not get where they were, and so they were brought here. It’s been a shelter in the time of the storms which wreaked havoc in the lives of those who are most vulnerable in our society and who through no fault of their own find themselves in dire need.”
The GBCH, Ms Moss said, is still operating today because of donations received from Fidelity and countless others who have over the years made charity the focus of their lives. "So the GBCH is here today because of love, and love of countless persons who found it in their hearts to give to those in need. And it will only continue through the generosity of those who are continuing to support the work that is done here,” she said. Ms Moss announced that a gala event is planned for November 4 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the children’s home, as well as other fundraising events leading up to it. “The home needs assistance and the support of every person in this community to carry on the work that it is doing. No amount is too small; we need hundreds of thousands one dollar bills to make the home work,” she said.
Mr Bethel noted that Fidelity established a donation committee that has an annual budget which is a percentage of their profits. “We have a charity that we assist every month. The donation committee is out there looking for people who need help. I want to pay tribute to my colleagues who do all the work to generate the profits and the donation committee that give us the opportunity to share those blessings,” he said. Mr Bethel said that Fidelity had grown significantly in Nassau and Freeport, despite the financial crisis that caused the Great Recession nearly ten years ago.
“This August marks the anniversary of the beginning of the financial crisis that caused the great recession that has impacted just about every life around the world, and we are still seeking to recover from that financial crisis and the great recession. But through the Grace of God and some awesome colleagues, even through that 10 year period Fidelity has gone from strength to strength, and has grown tremendously during that time whether in the size of the balance sheet, the number of customers, the profits, and the staff,” he stated. “We are really delighted to be here in Freeport… I am in Freeport every month, and people say that the Grand Bahama and Freeport community has been especially hard hit, but even in Freeport, we have had tremendous growth. In fact, we are expanding our branch and renovating and expanding as we speak.”
The bank has hired ten people in the last year and is still looking to employ additional people, Mr Bethel said. Mr Bethel, who believes in giving to others, is not one for publicity but felt the importance to do so at this time to encourage others also to come forward and give. “I never do this,” he said. “I do this even though I do not like the publicity; I accept publicity for this reason to say to those who will watch this account of what is taking place that the children at the GBCH need you. It is not one donor, it really takes all of us to touch lives. And this is how you store treasures in heaven, by reaching out to the most vulnerable in our community and helping them.”