Queen Louise Home for Children has a brand new, air-conditioned computer lab with five fully equipped study stations for its 15 young wards’ use, becoming the newest of over 170 labs Caribbean Lottery’s parent company have set up across the nation and Caribbean region.
Junia John-Straker, head of Lutheran Social Service that owns and operates Queen Louise Home, spoke at a celebratory ceremony Thursday at the Buccaneer Hotel and Resort. "Everyone was excited when we were contacted by Caribbean Lottery," she said.
“The excitement became more intense when we observed their seriousness and determination," she said. "Yesterday the kids had a chance to really play with the computers for the first time."
For 107 years, Queen Louise Home has served as a temporary home for children removed from their families due to abuse or neglect or the incapacity of the parents, she said. Right now it has 15 residents, and hosts an Early Head Start program serving 48 predominantly lower income families.
Later in the ceremony, Human Services Commissioner Chris Finch also emphasized how long the home had served St. Croix. “It has not been closed for one minute of one day in that 107 years,” Finch said, eliciting applause from the crowd of government officials, corporate officers and charitable volunteers at the Buccaneer.
The donation is "very important," Finch said, because it provides tools to help the children at the home excel, despite the risks and challenges they face from the chaos and uncertainty they experience.
"If you are worrying about who is going to raise you, you tend not to be as concerned about being an A student," Finch said.
The program works with children ages five to 18 to provide an otherwise unavailable educational experience and to bridge the digital divide among young people. Caribbean Lottery donates computer equipment, software and volunteer hours to each After School Advantage Program center.
Caribbean Lottery is owned by GTECH, a company that holds long-term licenses to operate lotteries in Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, St. Kitts and Nevis, and St. Maarten, and is the operator for lotteries in Barbados and the U.S. Virgin Islands. GTECH operates in 24 U.S. states, 10 Caribbean countries, and 41 countries, according to the company.