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’The ladies and gentlemen we serve deserved better than this’

The Salvation Army announced progress in their renovation project at their shelter facility on Marsh Lane. Pictured left to right: Major Sandra Stokes, Salvation Army division head, Major Barrett Dill, Bermuda Housing Corporation general manager, Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works, Jim Butterfield, donor, and Keino Furbert-Jacobs, project manager. (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

The Salvation Army’s emergency homeless shelter in Pembroke has been given a major boost after the Government and two businessmen joined forces to improve the almost 40-year-old facility.

The Government, Jim Butterfield and Kirk Kitson have funded $200,000 worth of renovations to several buildings at the charity’s North Street shelter.

An additional building is expected to be erected on the site next year to increase the facility’s capacity as part of the project.

Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the public works minister, admitted there has been a lack of financial support for the charity by successive administrations.

Colonel Burch said after a review of the facility, some of the buildings needed to be demolished but others only needed to be upgraded.

He said Mr Butterfield and Mr Kitson made the renovations and repairs possible through their support.

Colonel Burch said: “Significant work, including the replacement of roofs, repairs to walls and foundations and extensive plumbing and electrical works have been completed.

“Two residential buildings housing the male and female residents of the shelter have been remodelled and refurbished and the central building, housing administrative staff, common areas and the kitchen were repaired.

“To date, just over $200,000 has been spent, split three ways between Mr Butterfield, Mr Kitson and the Government.”

The Minister added that in addition to providing funds, Mr Kitson and Mr Butterfield found others who offered financial and in-kind support for the project

Colonel Burch said in addition to co-funding the redevelopment, the Government has pledged to provide $1 million in capital funding in this year’s budget and increased the Salvation Army’s annual grant by $150,000 to support additional services.

He said: “Ultimately, as it pertains to the needs of Bermuda’s vulnerable and indigent community, the Government’s primary objective is to ensure the men and women in need of shelter and support have a safe place for refuge.”

Keino Furbert-Jacobs, project manager, said the first new building on the site, to be erected next year, would be two storeys tall and would include 12 rooms for clients.

Major Sandra Stokes, the Salvation Army division leader, said when she first visited the North Street shelter she left in tears.

She said: “I wept because it did not represent the dignity and values of the Salvation Army, and thus began the conversations with Colonel Burch and the Government of Bermuda.

“I thought to myself that we could do better than this. The ladies and gentlemen we serve deserved better than this, and we are doing better.

“We are doing better because of people like this who care and who share.”

Major Stokes said the support of the Government and donors meant the facilities would continue to improve and services offered by the charity would be able to expand.

She said: “We are really excited that we will have more space, have more rooms. We will certainly be encouraging those who are without shelter to come because there will be space for many more.

“Whether it will meet the entire need of the entire country of Bermuda remains to be seen, but we are grateful that we will be able to provide greater services and more services.”

Mr Butterfield said he met with Colonel Burch and Public Works staff more than a year ago to discuss the project and was thrilled to get the green light.

He said: “Every time I travelled this road I see these dilapidated, rotten buildings and thought that we had to do better than this.

“It has been over $200,000 so far, but we started with the women’s building and we were so thrilled with the result that we immediately turned to the men’s building.

“We got into a bit of difficulty because it was the largest of the buildings, it was in the worst condition, we had a hurricane mixed up in there and there was lock down and Covid.”

Mr Butterfield said there is some additional flooring work on the men’s building still to be done but his and Mr Kitson’s commitment to the charity would continue even after the work was complete.

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Published December 03, 2020 at 7:55 am (Updated December 02, 2020 at 8:31 pm)

’The ladies and gentlemen we serve deserved better than this’

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