New charity helps forgotten ones

A new charity group in Cayman called Professionals for Hope will focus on helping those with special needs that are not being addressed.

‘Our objective is to help those in the community who are not getting the help they need elsewhere,’ said Joan Dowling, the group’s chairperson.

Member of Professionals for Hope

Member of Professionals for Hope paid a visit to the residents and caretakers of Maple House on 20 December, bringing with them presents for all. Photo: Alan Markoff

The association consists of more than two dozen people from a variety of professions and includes attorneys, bankers, teachers and others.

Mariko Jack, wife of Governor Stuart Jack, has taken a personal interest in the organisation and has accepted the role of Honorary Patron.

Professionals for Hope decided to make helping Maple House, a home for mentally and physically disabled children, its first project.

Maple House currently houses seven youths with disabilities. Fourteen caregivers look after the youths on a 24-hour basis.

Despite the support of the Government through the Department of Children and Family Services, Maple House needs some upgrading to make it more comfortable for both the residents and caretakers.

There is specialised equipment needed; beds there are old and some have foam inserts for mattresses; many other pieces of furniture need to be purchased or replaced; a new hot water heater is needed; and the house needs painting.

The list goes on and in all it will take an estimated CI$60,000 to do everything planned.

‘We want to turn a house into a home,’ said committee member David Stewart.

In addition to improving the Maple House facility itself, Professionals for Hope want to organise a function for the caregivers in the early part of this year.

‘We want to highlight the importance of the work the caregivers are doing,’ said Ms Dowling. ‘They often don’t get the recognition they should.’

On 20 December, Professionals for Hope paid a visit to Maple House and brought presents for the residents and caretakers.

Mrs. Jack was also there for the occasion.

‘This is our group’s first official activity and it’s good momentum for us,’ she said. ‘I hope that step by step we can fulfil our hopes for Maple House.’

Department of Children and Family Services Programme Supervisor Dawn Rankine said she was thankful for the support of Professionals for Hope.

‘Getting this kind of interest is an experience we have not had before,’ she told the visiting group. ‘I cannot thank you enough for all your commitment and generosity for this home.’

One unique aspect of Professional for Hope is that the charity is 100 per cent volunteer based with no administrative fees.

‘People know where the money they donate is going,’ said Ms Dowling. ‘Every penny people give for Maple House will go to Maple House.’

In order to assure absolute transparency as to donations and expenditures, Professionals for Hope have set up a trust facility through Cayman National Trust Ltd.

Appleby Hunter Bailhache, who drafted the trust deed, will also serve as enforcer of the trust. Both companies have donated their services to Professionals for Hope.

Cayman National’s President of International Financial Services Ian Phillips said his organisation thought Professionals for Hope was a very good cause.

‘We see ourselves as a community bank and we’re very happy to provide the trusteeship,’ he said.

Likewise, trust attorney Carlos de Serpa Pimentel said Appleby Hunter Bailhache thought Professionals for Hope a worthy effort.

‘We’re delighted to be involved by giving our time in a community cause,’ he said.

Professionals for Hope are counting on other corporations to feel the same way about the Maple House project and they have sent a letter out to selected companies soliciting corporate sponsorships.

A target of CI$60,000 has been set to raise between now and the end of March.

‘That’s our target, but we really hope we’re oversubscribed,’ said Ms Dowling.

Any additional funds collected beyond the scope of this project will remain in trust for Maple House, to be used as future need arises.

Two local companies – Bank of America (Cayman) and HSBC Financial Services (Cayman) Ltd. – have already stepped up and given donations to the project, Ms Dowling said.

Once the Maple House project is complete, Professionals for Hope will move on to their next project, which has yet to be determined. Once again, however, they will look to help the forgotten.

Ms Dowling said some of the causes the organisation might look at include the housebound, elderly living alone, or victims of domestic violence.

Professionals for Hope is open to anyone who would like help. In particular, the group would like to recruit an accountant and a web designer to help fill some of the organisational needs.

‘Anyone can come along and join,’ said Ms Dowling. ‘We’re always looking for more members. The more views we have, the better.’