The annual Flowers One Mile Sea Swim is not just a super event that attracts over 800 entrants for its exciting offer of over $100,000 in cash and prizes, it is an invaluable source of much needed funds for a struggling designated charity.
Every Flowers Sea Swim contributes its proceeds to a worthy Cayman Islands charity and this year the grateful recipient was the Meals on Wheels programme which delivers well balanced meals to deserving people at their homes.
The Meals on Wheels programme also provides meals to homebound, frail people and those with physical and mental disabilities.
The programme began with Beulah McField and her mum Martha cooking out of her home for 14 elderly persons in George Town in the Nineties. That number soon grew and the First Baptist Church and Grand Old House began assisting with the cooking of the meals two days a week. The Rotary Club of Grand Cayman became involved and took over administration of the programme in 1997. Each meal costs around $5.
Over $33,000 was raised from last month’s swim and the Meals on Wheels reps, Charles Jennings (board director), Beulah McField and Kerri Kanuga were at the Flowers offices last week to receive the money from swim organisers Frank Flowers and his daughter Dara Flowers-Burke. Also there was Lin Tibbetts, representing Cayman Airways who are one of the main sponsors. He received a plaque on behalf of the Cayman Brac swimming programme which has been so active in recent years.
Penny Palfrey, the world record setter, actually did a ‘training’ swim of 5.4 miles from Cayman Brac to Little Cayman and set a new record before she embarked on her magnificent 68-mile colossal from Little Cayman to East End, Grand Cayman, just before the Flowers Sea Swim.
Dara said: “From our perspective, we just thought it is an amazing charity to support. The work they’re doing in this community is incredible and we need more people like Kerri, Miss Beulah and Charles stepping up in our community and trying to make a positive difference.”
Beulah is programme director, ensuring the meals are delivered every day. It must be wonderful for her to see what that treasured piece of kindness by herself and her mother has done. She said: “This is fantastic. It means we are going to be able to prepare 7,000 meals.
“The budget for the year is around $150,000 so $33,000 is a good chunk of it. So we’re extremely pleased to be able to have this. We’re still looking to expand to West Bay and North Side so perhaps this can help us launch that.
“We service George Town, Bodden Town and East End, including Breakers and we do 170 meals a day, five days a week. We have a total of about 130 volunteers and we’re really appreciative of them all.”
Kanuga has been a volunteer and fundraiser for four years. She got involved because “the need in the community seemed so great”. Always thinking of ways to promote the charity, she organised a fundraiser at Tiki Beach involving all the elite swimmers just before the Flowers Sea Swim.
“One other thing that has come from the Flowers Sea Swim was that it has raised the profile of our charity. There were so many people on the island who weren’t aware of the need and didn’t know that there was an organisation delivering meals for needy people. “We have a need for probably twice as many people that we’re serving and this has raised the awareness and we’re getting additional sponsorship and we can always use more.”
Frank Flowers said: “We looked around at various organisations and it’s a certain criteria that you have to meet in terms of being properly managed and organised and Meals on Wheels met the criteria this year.
“We like to stay off the spotlight and go to lesser known organisations to bring them out into the spotlight so that people can donate more. Kind of give them a jump start in terms of publicity.
“I want to thank all the people of the Cayman Islands for supporting it. The sponsors who helped us put on the event and this is the result. Thank you all. It wasn’t me, it was the public that did it and the support of the government and I’m looking forward to your support next year.”