The Cayman Islands Red Cross management is moving to the Cayman Corporate Centre in mid-September.
The 25-year-old red-and-white Red Cross headquarters on Huldah Avenue will not be abandoned, however. Vehicles will remain and the structure will continue to function as the organization’s main location.
Deputy director Carolina Ferreira said the Red Cross had grown so big that it needs breathing space.
“On an average week, we have three public first aid classes, two Red Cross University trainings, two to three meetings, and at least two private bookings for room usage,” she said, “and that doesn’t even take into account staff and board meetings or any last-minute or emergency meetings/training requests, which happen more often than anyone would guess.”
The activities, as well as the thrift shop, including its secondhand books, will remain in the two-story structure, expanding to take up the entire floor, and offering a new furniture display and “boutique” specializing in designer and fresh/never-worn items.
“The upstairs remains a shelter; the volunteers’ training and our emergency operations center will remain, while the new space will give us a second training space – not as big as the first, but able to help if we are double booked or something,” Ms Ferreira said.
The offices will transfer to 1,700 square feet of refurbished space on the ground floor of the Corporate Centre, just around the corner from the government administration building and near Cayman Islands Hospital.
“The director, the deputy director, the first aid training manager and first aid director, the disaster manager and program support officer will all move,” Ms Ferreira said.
“We’re looking for the 16th,” she said, “but are still confirming that LIME and the utilities and everyone else are on board.”
Construction crews will move in to retrofit and upgrade the Huldah Avenue interiors as soon as the administration offices are gone. Already, in early summer, a construction crew from JML International moved into the Corporate Centre, removing walls, rebuilding and subdividing the space, repainting, refurbishing and cleaning, finishing by mid-August.
“It will give us the breathing room so we can focus on our new plans and our new building,” Ms Ferreira said. “Once we move out, it marks the start of our five-year plan for another building where we can move, but we have no idea about that yet. We have to start from scratch to find land. We have no location, no real estate, whether we might purchase it or if it might be donated.”
An anonymous donor gave the Cayman Corporate Centre offices to the Red Cross for the five-year interim period. Ms Ferreira declined to identify the sponsor, saying only that confidentiality was part of the deal. “They have been very generous and want to remain anonymous, so we are being very careful,” she said.
Martin Taitt, general manager of JML International, which led the Corporate Centre refurbishment efforts, said he is happy to have contributed to the project.
“We generally try to do something every year for charities on the island,” he said. The firm found its way to the Red Cross project through one of JML’s clients.
“We did the best we could and had a lot of help from suppliers of carpets and building materials,” Mr. Taitt said. “Our employees and others from Corporate Electric donated a lot of their time, so it really was a collective effort.”
Costs to fit out the offices ran to approximately $20,000, which, he said, “worked out in sponsorship,” qualifying JML as an official supporter of the Red Cross. A statement from the Red Cross on Monday described the creation of the Huldah Avenue building, constructed on land donated by the Panton family in 1987.
In 1988, the foundation stone was laid by Princess Alexandra on a royal visit to the Cayman Islands. Architect Jim Scott drew up the plans, while building coordinator Roy Grant managed the project, which was executed in two stages by Arch and Godfrey, who charged only costs.
“They built the upstairs first,” Ms Ferriera said. “They built it on stilts, so if there were any flooding, the water would just go underneath,” ensuring a shelter was on higher ground, protecting residents and supplies from the elements.
“In the end,” she said, “the Red Cross Committee raised the funds and we filled in the downstairs.”