Volunteers’ eyes are opened feeding those in need
A local company with subsidiaries in the Caribbean and Europe celebrated their sixth anniversary yesterday by donating time and energy to help feed the less fortunate.
For Rahlemah Robinson and colleagues at KRyS Global it was a humbling experience to witness the harsh realities of unemployment and homelessness in Bermuda.
Encouraged to give something back to the community she joined colleagues at the Anglican Cathedral Hall where breakfast is served twice a week. The food service by Daily Bread is supplied by the Eliza DoLittle Society.
“The decision to volunteer is in line with our firm’s vision to leave a positive mark in the communities we work and live in,” said Ms Robinson. “It was truly a humbling experience, one that we don’t take lightly.”
Employees at the company’s head office in the Cayman Islands and subsidiaries volunteered for similar programmes from the Bahamas to Guernsey.
As a married mother of two young children Ms Robinson said she was moved to commit more time to volunteer.
“I see people here who worked in businesses who have lost their jobs and you wouldn’t know it, you wouldn’t think that they would come here. You never know what a person’s situation is.
“A lot of us suffer through hard times in silence or live from pay cheque to pay cheque. This is just one day that we do this but the need is daily.
“I plan to come back no less than once a month to help out because it hurts to see so many Bermudians struggling and on the surface you wouldn’t even notice. This is just one meal that we helped serve when there’s so much more that we could do collectively.
“It helps you to be more grateful for what you have especially when it all can be taken away so fast. It helps you realise that there is always someone else who has less than you.
“The cost of living in Bermuda is way out of hand and we need to find more ways to help those who are not making it or struggling to make ends meet,” she said.
Carole Paynter volunteers for the society because it’s an extension of her lifelong career of more than 30 years as a registered nurse. At least 80 people show up twice a week and she said some of the stories she hears is heart wrenching.
“I do a little bit of counselling because that’s my background. One man lives in a tent, another man lives between two or three houses wherever he can put his head down, another one lives in a car,” said Ms Paynter.
“It bothers me that so many Bermudians are struggling, some of it is due to unemployment, another part of it has to do with life choices. A large number of them are on financial assistance and there are those over the age of 65. They have their pension but they find it hard to survive off their pension cheques.
Gone are the days of having two and three jobs in Bermuda she said. “It’s definitely not like that anymore and there seems to just as many women out of work as men.”
One woman, who asked to remain anonymous, said at the age of 53 she has had great difficulty finding a job despite qualifications as a geriatric aid and as a chef.
“I was laid off five weeks ago and that job was only paying $10 an hour that was the minimum wage for me ten years ago,” she said.
“My big issue is there’s so many foreigners working while the locals are unemployed. We have qualified Bermudians who can’t get a job with foreigners flipping burgers when I can do that job.
“I have my own place, my parents left me a house so I don’t have to worry about rent. I haven’t applied for financial assistance because I want to support myself, but I need a job to do that.
“I come here because it gives me something to do to get out of the house; it gets so monotonous sitting up at home all the time and it’s depressing. I use what little savings I have but thank God there’s places that would help in desperate times.”
She commended the society for “never turning anyone away”. “Even people who have jobs come here because it’s rough out here and food in Bermuda is too expensive.”
Novia Santucci, 51, is currently living at the Salvation Army Shelter and hasn’t had a full-time job for the past three years. After working in the hotel industry in housekeeping or laundry all she is able to find is housecleaning jobs here and there.
“I’ve been picking up little hustles doing housecleaning in different areas, if anyone has a job for me you can leave a message for me at the shelter. I’m not on financial assistance, but it seems that foreigners are getting most of the non-skilled jobs while Bermudians are unemployed.
“It’s been really rough with no work out here, I’m struggling and it’s very depressing, I would be happy to find work instead of struggling from day to day.”