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Local author aiming to raise $35,000 for senior citizens

One Bermudian author hopes to use his version of the Christmas story to raise $35,000 for senior citizens.

Alastair Macdonald published 'First Christmas', a book about the birth of Jesus, in 2008. It is in poetic form, and is told from the point of view of Joseph's donkey, Zeke.

This year, Mr MacDonald has donated 1000 copies to the Aerie Foundation.

The Aerie Foundation is a licensed charity that launched a senior citizen programme four years ago. It was started by Pastor Jim Denwiddie and his wife Maybelle, of the New Creation Worship Centre.

“We did quite a bit of research on what was needed for the senior foundation and found it was home care,” said Mrs Denwiddie. “So we launched our seniors' programme offering home care for the frail and elderly. It provides geriatric aides, nurse aides and continuing caregivers. They help with toileting, bathing, medication reminders and anything that is needed to keep the seniors in their home. We found that seniors most prefer to be in their own home setting.”

The care is not free, but it is offered without profit to keep costs as low as possible. The Aerie Foundation is also trying to offer its services on a sliding scale, depending on financial need.

“This fundraiser will help to offset the cost and give service to more seniors, regardless of their financial situation,” said Mrs Denwiddie.

Mr MacDonald, a financial advisor by profession, was invited to join the Aerie Foundation by a friend.

“I was really quite surprised at what they have accomplished in a short time,” he said. “It keeps more seniors out of institutions which are costly and not always the best for people to live in. They have done it all very quietly. The Aerie Foundation is a faith-based group. Sometimes people complain in Bermuda that churches don't do enough. Here is an example of churches doing something.”

He hoped that the fundraiser would also act as a “coming out” for the Aerie Foundation, and make it more visible in the community. He also hoped his book would provide it with needed funds.

'First Christmas' was well received when it was first published two years ago. In 2008, it won a prize at the Moonbeam Children's Book Award presented by the Jenkins Group and Independent Publisher

magazine. This Christmas, images from the book will be shown at the Museum of Biblical Art in Dallas, Texas

“It is beautifully illustrated by a Coptic Christian artist, Adel Nassief, who lives in Alexandria, Egypt,” said Mr MacDonald. “Mr Nassief is a very spiritual man and does a lot of prayer as he paints. Coptic Christians describe the process as 'writing' the icon, rather than painting it.”

'First Christmas' has been a long-term project for Mr MacDonald, as he began writing it 18 years ago for his children. In fact, he worked on it for so long, it became a family joke.

“I went looking for a book that told the story of the birth of Jesus when my children, Matthew and Heather, were quite young,” he said. “I didn't find very much. Most of it was not particularly well done and it didn't inspire me. I was surprised at that fact, because it is one of the most beloved stories of all time. The idea came into my mind that I should write the book. It was a bit obscure because I had never written a book before, let alone poetry or a children's book.”

Writing Christmas verse was not something he was used to doing.

“I just felt I should,” he said. “The idea came to me that the story should be in poetry, because verse really tends to touch people's hearts.”

Neraly two decades passed before 'First Christmas' was published.

Although it is a book that can be enjoyed by children, it is not especially designed for them.

“It tells the story in a very gentle kind of way that both the old and young can enjoy,” Mr MacDonald said. “It is meant to be a keepsake that can be brought out and enjoyed, year after year.”

For more information visit www.aeriefoundation.org, telephone 296-5054 or e-mail administration[AT]aeriefoundation.org.

Alastair Macdonald, author of 'First Christmas' presented 1000 copies of his new book to Marbella Denwiddie, co-founder of the Aerie Foundation, to be sold for $35 each to raise funds for their senior care giving mission.

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Published December 09, 2010 at 1:00 am (Updated December 12, 2010 at 2:58 pm)

Local author aiming to raise $35,000 for senior citizens

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