Scawn committed to doing ‘whatever I can’
Scawn Butterfield lost his job, and took to the streets helping others.
At the height of Bermuda's lockdown period he was delivering 40 meals a day to people in need, and buying groceries for more.
Asked why he bothered to lend a hand, he said: “That's what I've always done. All my life. My grandmother did it; my mother did it. I guess now I have to do it.”
The elder-care specialist, who delivers The Royal Gazette newspaper to subscribers to make ends meet, began transporting meals as a favour to his neighbour.
Stuck inside at 100, she was dependent on the island-wide meal programme run by The Loren at Pink Beach and Butterfield Bank with the assistance of churches and helping organisations.
“The first day I went [to Christ Church Devonshire] to get a meal for her and the lady who lives next door to me, who is 93, and my mom, who stays up Government Gate.
“When I got to the church, the reverend [Jamaine Tucker] asked me would I mind delivering a few more plates, because they had food and they had people who needed the food, but they couldn't get to it.”
Mr Butterfield's immediate response: “Yeah, sure, no problem.”
On that first day he made five deliveries in addition to those he'd originally intended.
“And when I was going in those neighbourhoods the next day to take those same five meals, the people in those neighbourhoods were like, ‘How can I get some of that food? I ain't been eating for like a week now.' And I said, ‘I'll see what I can do'.”
The daily deliveries soon grew to 20. As he left home one day, he came across Christopher Famous, the Progressive Labour Party MP for Devonshire East.
“I grew up with the Famouses and I live in one of their apartments,” Mr Butterfield said. “Chris Famous saw me walking through the yard and said ‘Where you going? You know you're not supposed to be going anywhere [during shelter-in-place].' I said, ‘I've got this letter [excusing me]. I'm delivering for The Loren hotel'.”
Mr Famous asked if he could tag along as Mr Butterfield went to the church to collect the meals.
Once the backbencher saw how much they were struggling he “delivered a couple meals” which drew his attention to the great need, in various neighbourhoods.
He then made a few calls and got to work in the kitchen with his wife, Maxine, and his mother, June.
“He asked me if I'd be able to help him out as well as the church,” Mr Butterfield said. “I said, ‘Sure man, I'm not doing nothing right now. I can't get no work, so I might as well do something'.”
The effort brought his daily deliveries up to 40.
Mr Butterfield remained faithfully committed despite having to leave home while most people were fast asleep in bed.
At 5am he was out the door, folding newspapers and delivering them in good time. At 7.30am he'd head home to “relax and get something to eat” and at 12pm, head over to help the Famouses prepare meals.
“At one o'clock, I would go to the church and pick up those meals and then start delivering them all. And every day it just kept growing and growing.
“It ended up being about 40 people and then I started getting grocery vouchers and doing some grocery shopping to get [people who were in need] some supplementary groceries because the food wasn't enough.”
His cousin, Corey Butterfield, and his partner, Margaret Mitchell, offered their assistance, donating food and money so he could shop.
In total, he spent about four hours a day volunteering throughout the lockdown period, with just over half of that time devoted to actual deliveries.
Once he left the church, his route would take him past the old Cable & Wireless satellite on Middle Road in Devonshire, to Cedar Park, Mary Victoria Road, St Monica's Road, King Street, Happy Valley Road and along North Shore.
“I can't remember all the places, but I went all over,” he said.
Despite becoming familiar with many new faces, there is one he cannot get out of his mind.
“I got connected to an elderly lady that lived in Devonshire who asked if I could drop some groceries off to [someone else].
“I found out the young lady was an amputee. She didn't have a leg. So then I made it a mission to myself to make sure and get her some food, even now.”
Mr Butterfield added: “I deliver papers, so you know I don't make that much, but I still try to help with what I can.”
Asked how the woman might have survived had he not come along, Mr Butterfield said: “I don't know. I really don't ask myself that question. That's not a question for me. I just want to do something if I can, from now, whatever I can.
“She does get assistance from Government, financial aid, but during the lockdown they didn't have Meals on Wheels; government assistance wasn't going out to homes because you didn't want the health resource team interacting with people in the community that might have something, and then transferring it somewhere else.
“There were a lot of loopholes all over the island so I just did what I had to do and didn't ask questions.”
Mr Butterfield believes his giving nature was inherited. He helped out when his grandmother started the Senior Islanders' Club at Admiralty House with the Reverend Fred Hassell.
He also helped out his mother whose business was focused on “taking care of the elderly, terminally ill and handicapped in the community”.
“I worked for her during that whole situation and then I worked for the Salvation Army,” he said. Now that the meal deliveries are finished, he spends much of his time gardening, and searching for a job in his field.
“I'm planting thyme, oregano and cilantro; planting herbs,” he said. “And hopefully, if they grow out enough, I can sell them, we will have a local source of local herbs.
“And I am still looking for a job of course. I was working in a private home but during the coronavirus that shot down and then the gentleman, his health is a little worse now, so he's moved into a 24-hour facility.”
Mr Butterfield added: “But I'm at this point in life right now where I'm happy with whatever [happens]. If I get a job I'll be happy and if I don't, I'm still gonna keep on going.”