Caring for our seniors
Mindful of all that seniors have contributed to our community, Sari Smith hatched a plan to give something back.
The 18-year-old did it under the auspices of Hamilton Rotary’s Interact Club. Then president of the 15-strong group, it was her idea to start “an intergenerational programme” that would “develop meaningful relationships”.
Eighty-three bags containing “personal and consumable items” were delivered to seniors across the island last week.
“We just picked three rest homes out, randomly, and we also went through a church and we gave them 20 baskets to give to needy seniors who had been coming to the church when they give out food,” said Sari, who completed her year as club president in 2021 and is now the community service director. “And then we had ten seniors that we knew – anybody who was in need – and we gave it to them.”
The teenaged Rotary members were responsible for every aspect – from getting sponsors to delivering the baskets to nursing homes and seniors living on their own.
“We communicated with international businesses, retail outlets and wholesale distributors asking for donations in the form of financial support, donations of goods and special discounts to purchase consumable and personable items,” Sari said.
Insurers Liberty Specialty Markets were the first to respond to their request and agreed to be the “major financial partner” on the initiative. Wholesalers BGA were also “very helpful”.
“We subsequently received offers from other companies who we are hoping will delay their financial support for some of our other future initiatives,” Sari said. “The Rotary Youth team was involved in visiting establishments, negotiating discounts and asking for donations, picking up the items purchased and donated, packaging the individual bags of goodies and then delivering them to approximately 83 seniors.”
The group was grateful for the “contributions and support” Cristina Martin, Peter Tobin, Michelle Smith, Donnette Caisey, Deborah Albouy and Cathy Bassett gave to the initiative.
Sari got involved with Hamilton Rotary Club after she was asked to play her violin at one of its events.
“After I played at their event, they told me about the club and I was really interested in joining so I've been there for I think it's close to four years now.”
The Interact Club was introduced to Bermuda 46 years ago by Kirk Kitson and the late Jay Bluck, past presidents of Hamilton Rotary.
The group split up when the then-teenagers left Bermuda to attend college but it was restarted six years ago after Ms Bassett attended a Rotary convention in New York City at the United Nations. More than 100 teens have benefited from the club, which is sponsored by Hamilton Rotary.
Emma Roberts, a student at Mount St Agnes Academy, is the current president. The group of public and private school students meets twice a month on Zoom, its members range in age from 14 to 18.
The Rotary Interact Youth Club has four actively engaged committees which include Sari's group, the community service committee, the social relations team, the fund raising team and [the] media team,” said Ms Bassett, the youth director of Hamilton Rotary Club.
Together, the students “plan events that demonstrate service above self in the community and organise social activities for the members”.
“They are actively involved with KBB cleanups, funding programmes for needy citizens, [providing] books for schools, donating food vouchers to needy citizens and attending overseas conventions embracing youth leadership and international service,” Ms Bassett said.
“Two years ago, we took 14 youth delegates to the [United Nations] to present position papers at The National High School Model United Nations Convention, where over 5,000 youth were in attendance from around the world. Sari was one of the presenters.”
Sari also spearheaded a scheme that saw $1,000 in food vouchers from Lindo’s presented to 50 Pals and dialysis patients, “many of whom were seniors”, and “initiated a call-in programme where students in the club call to check on seniors during the pandemic”, Ms Bassett added.
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