Older Persons Month ambassadors named

| 07/10/2018
CNS Local Life

Alex Evangeline Johnson

(CNS Local Life): The Department of Children and Family Services has chosen six individuals as Older Persons Month ambassadors in recognition of their service to the community. The three men and three women were selected on a basis of four criteria, explained social work manager and Older Persons Month committee chair, Cassandra Fearon.

According to a government press release, the ambassadors were singled out for:

  • making a broad and substantial impact on our community, in particular the lives of older persons;
  • displaying leadership in promoting non-profit causes and organisations, laws, policies and agencies supporting older persons;
  • exhibiting leadership and performance, for work above and beyond his/her paid profession;
  • making diverse contributions, over an extended period to the benefit to the older persons’ community.

This year’s ambassadors are:

Alex Evangeline Johnson

Ms Alex returned home to Cayman in 1993 after several years living in California.  With time to spare and not wanting to be bored, she and a few friends decided to make a difference in their North Side community.

Setting up the North Side Community Development Team, they organised yard sales to raise funds to host special events for the elderly and children including Christmas dinners for the young and old.  As word spread among residents, a few generously donated to the cause allowing the group to do more.

Ms Alex is also a co-founder of the seniors’ fellowship programme, which promotes socialisation, cultural and religious stimulation within the community. Since 2016, she has headed up the district’s Meals on Wheels initiative, delivering approximately 31 meals three times a week, helped by her grandson, Johany Ebanks. In addition, this 75-year-old distributes food to the needy, which is donated by the clients of her business, J & J Property Management.

Ms Alex has also served on various committees including the Status and Work Permit Board where she has advocated for the needs of seniors.

She is the “go to” person in the North Side district for seniors needing rides to and from the clinic or wanting their prescriptions refilled. Members of the community have her telephone number and do not hesitate to call when in need. Usually, such help takes the form of running essential errands for others, filling out paperwork, offering Justice of the Peace services or, lending a ready ear to those who just need to talk.

Rupert Ebanks

CNS Local LIfe

Rupert Ebanks

Mr Rupert has been visiting the Golden Age Home in West Bay every Wednesday for more than 20 years.  During these visits to the residential home he provides weekly devotions and is sometimes accompanied by the Pastor of Boatswain Bay Presbyterian Church, or another church member.

As an elder of the Boatswain Bay Presbyterian Church since 1968, Mr Rupert, who turns 84 on 12 October, attends mostly alone, to ensure the elderly residents enjoy regular devotions.

Mr Rupert’s warm and caring nature makes him a very welcomed visitor to the Golden Age Home and by extension the Department of Children and Family Services. He enjoys talking to the residents and sharing reminiscences with them.  His wife, Esther Victoria, says her husband works under the premise that “people need the Lord”.

In his spare time, Mr Rupert likes gardening and undertaking small construction jobs at his home.

Hope Foster

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Hope Foster

Ms Hope, 72, is the coordinator for Meal on Wheels for Bodden Town. She provides meals for 46 older persons and shut-ins from Monday through Friday. The Bodden Town resident began this vital service before Hurricane Ivan in 2004.

As part of her role at Meals on Wheels, Ms Hope coordinates all of the agency’s district volunteers. She works along with two helpers to prepare all of the meals at her home in the previous garage space which she converted into an industrial kitchen to undertake this service. Along with her volunteers, she does the bulk shopping and follows the meal planning schedule of Grand Cayman’s Meals on Wheels. Ms Hope enjoys making sure that the food delivery is personalised and provides the added touch of spending time with each person on the delivery route to listen to their needs.

She knows that the programme is very helpful to the community and if necessary, has used her personal funds to keep it going until she could get funding. She is very grateful to all who continue to give financial support to Meals on Wheels and volunteer their time.

Percival Ivan Whittaker

CNS Local Life

Percival Ivan Whittaker

He is a member of the Church of God (Holiness) in Cayman Brac. The church relies on him to assist as a handyman and with Vacation Bible School. Sometimes, he drives the church bus to transport the seniors particularly, to and from church services and events.

Mr. Ivan, as he is commonly known, is also a member of the Veterans and Seaman’s Association of Cayman Brac. He performs the service of assisting as guard/usher at the Remembrance Day Parades, and some funerals.

The 78 year old is a very caring person who regularly assists the elderly in the community, taking them shopping, to Faith Hospital, the airport, and to visit their loved ones in the Kirkconnell Community Care Centre.

Mexi-Ann Grant

Ms Mexi-Ann lives in West End and, although she has been retired since 2008, she continues to have a very active role in her Cayman Brac community.

The 75 year old is a loving and caring person, who continuously gives of her time, love and the produce from her garden, to her fellow seniors.  She drives them to seniors’ functions, the Sew-n-So Ladies Club, Faith Hospital and takes them shopping.

Ms Mexi-Ann is presently involved with the Rest Home Ministry of the Crossroads United Church, paying regular visits; singing and praying with the residents of the Kirkconnell Community Care Centre and with shut-ins.

Ms Mexi-Ann is a Justice of the Peace and a recipient of the Queen’s Certificate and Badge of Honour for services to education. Her hobbies are crocheting, gardening and reading. 

Marquiss McLaughlin

CNS Local Life

Marquiss McLaughlin

Pastor Marquiss McLaughlin is pastor of Countryside Church of God.  He provides transport to older persons in East End to the bi-weekly seniors’ fellowship meetings and to other community activities using his car, or the bus purchased with assistance from Government for the Youth Challenge Friday Night Programme.

Pastor McLaughlin specifically tries to provide transport to older persons with disabilities, who need assistance in getting to the hospital, to collect medication or to do personal shopping. During hurricane season, he checks their homes to make sure they are secure. As he has some knowledge of plumbing, the pastor sometimes gets called on to help with general light maintenance.

The 66 year old is a Notary Public and a JP and his notary services are often done without cost. In this capacity, he helps with writing letters or by giving advice on administrative matters.

For the past three years, Pastor McLaughlin’s Sunday night church service has been occurring in the homes of bereaved families, shut-ins, the sick and elderly.

He has enjoyed helping older persons from his youth when he liked listening to and learning from their stories.

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