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Volunteers and donors thanked for making home for struggling women a reality

Habitat for Humanity board members celebrated the completion of the Transformational Living Centre for Families with a roof-wetting. Front row, from left: Sandra Warner, Paige Little, Sheelagh Cooper, Akilah Swan. Back row, from left: Jim Butterfield, Ed Fox, Hewvonnie Brown, Barbara Belton-Brown, Buddy Rego, William Cooper (Photograph supplied)

Volunteers gave “thousands” of hours to help turn a disused building into a home for struggling women and their families, a charity leader said.

Sheelagh Cooper, the chairwoman of Habitat for Humanity of Bermuda, said that there was “tremendous support” for the project.

Her comments came after a roof-wetting at the Transformational Living Centre for Families on Parsons Road in Pembroke last Friday.

Ms Cooper said: “Hundreds of volunteers provided thousands of hours of labour, while more than 40 local and international companies financed the Habitat project.

“The fact that the project has been completed at a cost well below the original estimate is entirely due to the tremendous support both in terms of donated materials and volunteer labour.

“Thousands of volunteer hours were provided by a wide range of companies and individuals, without whom this could never have been accomplished.”

Programmes and services will be run by the Women’s Resource Centre at the TLC for Families, which is expected to start welcoming its first residents before Christmas.

Ms Cooper said that volunteers came from companies such as Freisenbruch-Meyer, Digicel, Enstar Group, KPMG, EY, AIG and Willis Towers Watson as well as Warwick Academy and the US Consulate.

She added that their work involved “everything from cleaning, gardening, painting and even some aspects of construction”.

The TLC for Families was the brainchild of Elaine Butterfield, a former executive director of the WRC, and Ms Cooper.

Three years ago they recognised the growing problem of homeless mothers and children.

After talks with 14 other agencies and a collaboration with the Pembroke Parish Council, which owns the building – the former Pembroke Rest Home – work began on the project in 2019.

Ms Cooper said that when the parish council’s chairwoman, Patrika Ferguson, Ms Butterfield and herself "put their heads together to solve a problem, things really began to happen“.

She explained: “Part of our success is that Habitat has a truly hands-on board.”

Ms Cooper added that every member of the board “played a significant role” in the completion of the project.

They included Akilah Swan and Edward Thompson, architects who designed the building along with consultants Russell Eddy and Duncan Headley-Coates.

Project management came from Ed Fox while his fellow board member Hewvonnie Brown led the construction team.

Ms Cooper said that Jim Butterfield and Buddy Rego were both “significant” donors and “brought tremendous oversight”.

She added: “Lawyers Will Cooper and Terrylynn Griffiths kept us on the right side of the law, while Paige Little, our treasurer kept us on target.

“Barbara Belton-Brown spearheaded the establishment and operation of the Habitat ReStore, which has been a major source of financial support of the project, while Sandra Warner provided the glue and managed the chaos.”

Ms Cooper added: “At the end of the day, it’s the masons, the carpenters, the plumbers and the electricians that made it happen.

“We are hugely indebted to our Habitat construction team who have given countless hours – much of it unpaid or barely remunerated – to make this project come alive.

“It is their hard work and dedication that has made this dream a reality.

“Under the project management of Ed Fox and the day-to-day direct supervision and strong leadership of Hewvonnie Brown – his team made it all happen.”

Ms Cooper thanked Furniture Walk for its donation of beds for mothers.

She added: “The mothers will sleep in some of the most comfortable beds imaginable.

“The children, thanks to Matthew Gerardo, will sleep in bunk beds provided by Joshua Bates.

“To top it off, Torwood Home – formerly The Irish Linen Shop – has provided the most beautiful Matouk sheets for the beds and Dorothy Trott made pillow cases for the children’s beds.”

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Published November 17, 2021 at 7:50 am (Updated November 17, 2021 at 7:50 am)

Volunteers and donors thanked for making home for struggling women a reality

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