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HomeNewsLocal newsRotary-Harborside Donates Packages for Caregivers

Rotary-Harborside Donates Packages for Caregivers

From left: Nicole Polydore, Jennifer Logie, Sherleen Illidge, Arleen Evans-O’Reilly, all of the Department of Human Services, Marcellino Ventura and Lionel Downer of the Rotary Club, Alvin Milligan of DHS, Human Services Commissioner Kimberley Causey-Gomez, Kristina Vanderberg, Ben Mshila and Sandra Gerard-Leung of Rotary. (Submitted photo)

Members of the Rotary Club of St. Croix – Harborside marked National Caregivers Day on Friday by donating 50 hand-stitched bags and sanitary supplies to the V.I. Department of Human Services.

The donation was reported in a news release issued on Monday by the Department of Human Services.

Rotary-Harborside President Lionel Downer presented the donation to the DHS Family Caregivers Program staff at the Herbert Grigg Home for the Aged on St. Croix alongside other members of the club.

“It is our pleasure at the Rotary Club of St. Croix – Harborside to present these bags, lovingly hand-stitched by club Vice President Sandra Gerard-Leung, for the caregivers at the Department of Human Services,” Downer said.

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Recalling personal experience, Downer said he recognizes the vital role caregivers provided after his mother underwent triple bypass surgery. He described the essential daily activities that seniors often need help with that often go overlooked.

“Who’s going to help with the shopping and personal care? Those are the kinds of things we don’t always think about,” Downer said.

Gerard-Leung spent several weeks hand-stitching the homemade bags with a variety of fabrics, including such as canvas, denim, burlap and other eco-friendly materials. Gerard-Leung, who was a caregiver herself, knew months into the COVID-19 pandemic she wanted to do something for the caregivers at Human Services.

“This gift is for the caregivers and the homemakers who go out every day to help someone else without thinking of themselves. It is a thank you to those caregivers and homemakers who still go out to help others during these COVID-19 times,” Gerard-Leung said.

Members of Rotary-Harborside also partnered with The Market STX and Rotary International – District 7020 to stock the caregivers with cleaning supplies such as bleach, paper towels, hand sanitizer and dozens of other sanitation products.

DHS Commissioner Kimberley Causey-Gomez said the Rotary’s motto is the daily mission of the department.

“As a Rotarian and as commissioner for DHS, Rotary’s motto, ‘Service above self,’ is what we live by at DHS,” Causey-Gomez said. “I know for a fact that my staff goes above and beyond their job descriptions to provide care to our most vulnerable. They go into situations on a daily basis where they see things that most people don’t want to see. There are so many people that are alone now who are not able to care for themselves and have no family or friends. From the Department of Human Services, I’m extremely thankful from the bottom of my heart for the thoughtful gifts from Rotary-Harborside.”

The Family Caregivers Support Program is housed under the DHS Senior Citizens Affairs Division and offers support for individuals who care for family members aged 60 and above, as well as assistance for seniors aged 55 and above who care for grandchildren or other custodial family members in their care.

The Family Caregivers Support Program aims to empower family caregivers by providing information on gaining access to services; offering support groups to provide emotional support and education about caregiving; respite care assistance; and supplemental goods and services to care for their loved ones.

Those interested can learn more about the DHS Family Caregiver Support program by calling 340-774-0930 ext. 4484 in the St. Thomas-St. John District or 340-772-7100 ext. 7056 in the St. Croix District.

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