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A little TLC goes a long way for new centre helping families

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Matt Gerardo, vice president of sales, left, and Rick Craft, logistics manager, both at Bate’s (Photograph supplied)
Matt Gerardo, vice president of sales, left, and Rick Craft, logistics manager, both at Bate’s (Photograph supplied)
New Coat of Paint: Digicel staff pitch in to spruce up the Transformational Living Centre (Photograph supplied)

A transitional housing programme has been given internet, TV and phone services by an island company.

Staff from Digicel also pitched in to put fresh paint on the Transformational Living Centre for Families, where construction is expected to finish in April.

Up to 20 children will use the beds at the facility on Parson’s Road, in Pembroke, when it opens.

The TLC for Families was spearheaded by Sheelagh Cooper, the chairwoman of Habitat for Humanity of Bermuda, and Elaine Butterfield, the executive director of the Women’s Resource Centre.

The painting by Digicel volunteers came the same weekend as thieves targeted the home and stole $10,000 worth of appliances.

Ms Cooper said: “We’ve been so fortunate with the support from the community, just as we’re grateful to the Pembroke Parish Council who have given us this building at virtually no cost to renovate.”

The help from Digicel came after another company provided bunk beds for children who will live there for up to a year.

Matt Gerardo, the vice-president of sales at appliance company Joshua Bate Trading, built the furniture.

Ms Cooper said: “We are hugely grateful to Matthew and his crew for their hard work and generosity.

“Matthew worked together with an American foundation called ’Sleep in Heavenly Peace’ to design and produce bunk beds for the children at the centre.

“We will house up to 30 children when we open, but possibly as many as ten will be still in cribs, so this will be pretty much exactly what we will need for the slightly older ones.”

She added that the redevelopment of the former Pembroke Rest Home was about 80 per cent complete.

Ms Cooper said: “We are getting very close to making this dream a reality.

“Our original estimate for the project was $1.3 million, but because of such amazing generosity from suppliers and donated labour, our finished cost has been reduced to almost half of that.”

She added that the Habitat ReStore, on Front Street, was "a source of financial support to the project“.

Ms Cooper said: “We have been able to donate $30,000 from the ReStore to the TLC project to date and there is good reason to believe that this will remain a consistent source of support for the centre over the years.”

The TLC for Families was the 2018 brainchild of a think-tank of 18 charities and government agencies which identified the significant scale of homelessness among mothers and children, as well as an urgent need to tackle the problem.

The centre will also provide services such as counselling and training.

Mr Gerardo said that the Sleep in Heavenly Peace “caught the eye” of Joshua Bate, the trading company’s president.

The US-based organisation is made up of volunteers who assemble and deliver bunk beds to families in need.

Mr Gerardo explained that Bate’s, in Devonshire, wanted to bring the project to Bermuda to help children on the island.

The company’s location made it well-placed for “build days” and its network of contacts meant that items like bedding and mattresses could be sourced easily.

Mr Gerardo said: “We are part of SHP’s organisation now … through the website people can go on, submit a request for a bed for their family.”

He added that, in addition to the bunks for the TLC for Families, five bed sets have been distributed throughout the island.

Mr Gerardo said he looked forward to being able to expand the programme as restrictions related to the Covid-19 pandemic were eased.

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Published March 15, 2021 at 8:01 am (Updated March 15, 2021 at 1:55 pm)

A little TLC goes a long way for new centre helping families

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