The Grand Bahama Children’s Home (GBCH) is set to celebrate in grand style, the 40th anniversary.
The GBCH has been a staple in the Grand Bahama community for the past 40 years, positively impacting young persons throughout the Northern Bahamas, providing a wholesome environment for them to grow and be nurtured.
This year, to celebrate the significant milestone, the GBCH committee has scheduled a number of activities, the culmination event being a grand affair set for November, with Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis and his wife, Pat Minnis as the patrons.
According to Leslie Davies- Baptista, an executive committee member of the GBCH, the 40 years of activity is proof of perseverance.
“The Grand Bahama Children’s Home has been providing care 24 hours a day, and seven days a week, for abused, abandoned and neglected children in our Grand Bahama community. It is amazing to me that we are talking about 40 years of doing that in so many different ways with incredibly limited resources, but we have helped thousands of children, by providing a safe haven.
“On behalf of the Board, we certainly want to thank the staff here, all of the volunteers who have made the last 40 years possible. We are very excited to talk about the next 40 years and to announce the special planning committee for the anniversary celebration, which will be co chaired by the Honorable Senator Katherine Forbes-Smith, President of the Senate and Willie Moss, Attorney and Partner of Graham Thompson and Co.”
Forbes-Smith expressed excitement “to be an integral part of the planning committee for the celebrations that lie ahead and to share with the community the positive impact the Home has had, and continues to have in so many ways.
“We are excited about this 40 years of service that the Home has been to the community of Grand Bahama. The 40th Anniversary celebration will be held on November 4. We are pleased that the Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis, and his wife will serve as patrons for the event. (They) will not only be patrons, but have committed to being here for the event and assisting the Home in our overall efforts for the 40th Anniversary celebrations. We are very happy about that. He (PM Minnis) is committed to not just using his name for this event but helping the Home.
“I am very happy to co-chair this event but I have also been a committee member working, trying to raise funds for the Home for the last several years. For me this an honour to be able to now co chair with Willie Moss, the 40th Anniversary celebrations,” stated Forbes-Smith.
Established in 1977, the GBCH was birthed through the formation of the Child Care Committee, which was formed at the St. Jude’s Parish Hall, in May of that year. Since then the Home continued to grow, and flourish, thanks to the assistance of a number of volunteers who recognized the need for such a center, to house abused, abandoned and neglected children throughout the community.
During the celebrations, according to Forbes-Smith, volunteers who have contributed to making it what it is to today, will be recognized. The committee also intends to pay particular attention to looking at the growth and expansion of the Home, for another 40 years and beyond.
“We have done a lot about finding a home for kids, but over the next 40 years we want to talk about, how do they benefit and what services do we now provide, 40 years into the future for these kids. While we have a wonderful job of providing a Home, there are a lot of needs that we now need to focus on, in terms of resources for the kids and how we do assessments when the kids come to the Home. We are looking for the support now of professionals, like child psychologists and other resources so that we can actually take the kids to where they need to be in making them really promising citizens in our country.
“As you can see, the Home did not start here, and one of the focuses that we are going to do throughout this celebration is to talk about the history of the Home. There have been a lot of people who have contributed to the Home,” pointed out Forbes-Smith.
Forty years later, she noted, it is very important for the committee to highlight and honor persons within the community that were instrumental in making the Home a safe haven for kids.
The committee plans to engage the community through a series of small media series through broadcast media as well as in print, to emphasize the needs of the Home.
Over the 40 years, Forbes-Smith disclosed, the Home has benefited well over 4,000 children.
“There is a perception out there that the Home is well taken care of but there is a constant battle, to always be in the community, asking on behalf of the Home. There is no one donor that we can call on; it is a constant effort. One of the things that we are pleased about is, not only do we get support from the corporate community but there are individuals who come and support the Home as well. We would like to see more of that, where individuals, just regular people experience what it is like to assist in feeding, clothing and taking care of 28 children. It is not easy but we are certainly pleased to have the GBCH here in the community to be able to take care of our kids.”
Additionally, she shared that it is the hope for the Home, moving forward, to become better equipped, to facilitate special needs children.
“We do have a child here that is in a wheelchair and too date, we are not necessarily fully equipped to handle handicapped kids. Again, that is something that we need to focus on for the next 40 years into the future. How do we expand our facilities to be able to accommodate handicapped kids? That again is another focus for us during this celebration as we look to improve the services of the GBCH.
The Home accommodates children from the Northern Bahamas (Grand Bahama, Abaco and Bimini).
Another story line for the celebration will be tracking some of the youngsters who pass through the Home through the years. Some, who have been traced, will be highlighted.
The committee has appealed to the general public to continue supporting the Home.