Charity’s $1.2m respite home aim
Charitable group Project 100 aims to raise $1.2 million to create a new home for Bermuda's mentally challenged — it will be the fourth home the group has provided since 2000.
Having seen the success and benefits achieved through the three homes it has already opened, at a cost of $2.5 million, Project 100 has committed itself to providing another.
The homes allow families to temporarily house their disabled dependent while the caregiver takes a holiday or a break from providing care. The three residential homes Project 100 has provided cater for approximately six clients each with caregivers.
Charity president Karen Rawlins noted that “these difficult economic times are placing additional burdens on families with special needs children”.
Founded in 1985, Project 100 has funded the purchase of specially equipped vehicles and special equipment for patients. It also assists children with learning disabilities and scholarships for students pursuing degrees in Special Education.
In order to raise funds for a new residential home the charity is hosting its first gala fundraising ball in three years, an ‘Arabian Night' themed evening with belly dancers at the Fairmont Southampton on November 23.
“We're hoping that when we have this gala it will heighten public awareness and the proceeds will go towards purchasing a new home,” said Ms Rawlins.
“One good thing about Project 100 is we have almost no expenses, everything is volunteered. We do all of the work and so when you donate to us, I would say 99 percent of that money goes to the mentally challenged.
“Every year we get donations from organisations and we have been accumulating that money and we're looking to boost that fund.”
The group's mission centres around raising funds “for the sole use of eliminating or reducing their needs”.
Project 100 purchased The Pembroke Home, on Mount Hill, in 2000, and Rose Villa, on Horseshoe Road in Southampton, the following year. In 2009 it started providing respite care at West Side Villa, formerly the Sandys Rest Home.
Trustee Deborah Gillett said thanks to generous contributions there's only a “very small mortgage left for the three homes”. As Project 100 looks to provide a fourth home, she said: “Prices have come down but they're still not down enough to meet our budget.
“We're not going to find a purpose built building but we would need to come in around $750,000 — $800,000 to have extra funds for renovations.
Asked what keeps her committed to Project 100, she said: “I've been involved for 24 years out of their 27 years. I'm very passionate about it.
“If you can identify with one charity to support this is it for me. They need someone to fight their fight and I'm prepared to do that.
“And I will stay with them even if things change down the road. I'll still support the housing for the developmentally challenged community.
“I love the group homes, I love the way the individuals are in the homes and I think it's important that this programme continues.
“If they were staying home and their parents are deceased, or they have just gotten too old to take care of them, they need to continue in that environment.”
Michael Murray has headed up MAWI's Learning Disability Services for two decades. Mental illness is one thing he said, developmentally challenged is something else. Roughly two percent of Bermuda's population are mentally challenged and have suffered a brain injury.
“As a result of that brain injury they do not function as independently as you and I,” said Mr Murray.
To date, 73 clients have been moved into regular homes including the three group homes, others live in units rented or owned by MAWI.
“We're looking at the model used in other countries where they are closing the institutions down and moving clients into the community.
“We did the same thing. I didn't think it would happen so quickly but it has happened with the help of Project 100.
“They are the only charitable group helping us and it's very important. Without their help we would not have achieved our goal.
“We would have been still behind, like some other countries and we would still have clients living in the institution.”
Project 100 also purchased two vehicles for MAWI's programme and they maintain the property and grounds of the three group homes.
“Without them we would have been dependent on Government and we know that Government can't do everything for everyone,” said Mr Murray.
For Clinical Manager Karen Lightbourne working with the mentally challenged is priceless.
“Just the mere innocence and the intrinsic love I have for the job. It's not the amount of money we get paid. It's holistic, it's everything, you're not just dealing with paperwork.
“You're dealing with every aspect of their lives and every single day is different. And you should not feel sorry for the people that we take care of. “You just want them to share the same experiences that you have in your life.
“The longer you work with the service users, the better you understand them. And they can achieve so much, it just might take a little bit longer.”
Tickets for the Arabian Night gala event at Fairmont Southampton are $250. There will be prizes on the night. For more information call 295-0290 or e-mail email@example.com.