The Virgin Islands Department of Human Services (DHS) celebrated National Caregivers Day with a gracious donation of 50 hand-stitched bags and sanitary supplies from The Rotary Club of St. Croix – Harborside.
Rotary Harborside’s members presented the donation to the Department of Human Services Family Caregivers Program staff at St. Croix’s Herbert Grigg Home for the Aged.
Rotary Harborside’s President Lionel Downer, recalling from personal experience, said he now recognizes the vital role caregivers provide after his mother underwent triple bypass surgery. He described the essential daily activities that seniors 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,” he said.
Sandra Gerard-Leung, vice-president of Rotary-Harborside, spent several weeks hand-stitching the home-made bags with a variety of fabrics such as canvas, denim, burlap and other eco-friendly materials. Gerard-Leung, who was a caregiver herself, knew she wanted to do something for the caregivers at DHS months into the COVID-19 pandemic.
“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.
“As a Rotarian and as commissioner for DHS, Rotary’s motto, “Service above self,” is what we live by at DHS. 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,” Commissioner Kimberley Causey-Gomez of DHS said.
The Family Caregivers Support Program (FCSP) is housed under the DHS Senior Citizens Affairs Division (SCA) and offers support for individuals who care for family members ages 60 and above as well as assistance for seniors ages 55 and above who care for grandchildren or other custodial family members in their care.
The DHS FCSP program aims to empower family caregivers by providing information on gaining access to services; by offering support groups to provide emotional support and education about caregiving; and by giving respite care assistance, and supplemental goods and services to care for their loved ones.
Family Caregiver Support Programs play an important role in helping to reduce caregiver depression, anxiety and stress as well as enable caregivers to provide care longer, thereby avoiding or delaying the need for costly institutional care.
To learn more about this program, contact 774-0930 ext. 4484 (St. Thomas-St. John District) or 772-7100 ext. 7056 (St. Croix District).
Visit the V.I. Department of Human Services website at www.dhs.gov.vi for more information.
For more information on COVID-19, go to www.covid19usvi.com or text COVID19USVI to 888777. To report a suspected COVID-19 case, call 712-6299 or 776-1519.