Kind-hearted Cayman Islanders stepped up to the plate and forked out more than $60,000 for the cash starved meals on wheels charity – saving the service from shutting down.
The charity, which provides free meals to needy seniors, had run out of funds and was facing the prospect of closing its kitchens in the East End and Bodden Town, leaving around 80 vulnerable elderly people to go hungry.
Since the Caymanian Compass revealed the extent of the charity’s plight, more than 20 businesses have stepped in with donations totaling more than $60,000 – enough to pay for food for seniors through to at least the end of February next year.
Beulah McField, who has been running the charity for 16 years, said she was amazed by the community response.
“Since that article appeared, I have just been collecting checks and writing thank you letters. I can’t properly express the gratitude I feel for the way the community has responded.
“We’ve had big businesses donate as much as $15,000. We’ve also had plenty of ordinary people come in off the street and give $100.
“The whole community has come together for Meals on Wheels. We always hear about how divided the country is but in a crisis everyone has come together – Caymanians, expats, English, Filipinos, Indians – it doesn’t matter. Everyone has stepped up to save our seniors.”
At the moment, Meals on Wheels caters to 165 seniors throughout Grand Cayman. The majority of the charity’s staff, including the delivery drivers, are volunteers, and donations go largely toward purchasing food.
It costs around $200,000 to keep the services running year-round.
The charity, which has been running for 16 years and even remained in operation in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan, had been hit by a shortage of donations in the wake of the financial crisis. It was on the brink of shutting down its operations outside the capital when the donations started flooding in.
Ms McField said most of the charity’s clients were struggling financially, disabled or in their 80s and 90s and unable to cook for themselves. Most were “blissfully unaware” of the charity’s woes.
City Services, which is currently involved in a shopping and entertainment development at High Rock in the East End, were one of the big donors, contributing $10,000.
The company’s directors are also getting involved in the charity’s work, with Joe Imparato joining the new board of directors and his son Rob taking on the role of secretary and volunteer driver.
Joe Imparato said, “The service Meals on Wheels provides is a lifeline for many people and we feel it is our social responsibility to ensure that our fellow Caymanians continue to receive their meals without fail. In that regard, it is our pleasure to assist these wonderful people in their time of crisis, as well as to help those in need.”
He said “hands-on volunteerism” was important to both him and his son and they hope, through their roles on the board, to help Meals on Wheels “return to financial stability and beyond.”
Other donors to Meals on Wheels over the past month included: Greenlight Re, KPMG, Ogier, Cayman National Bank, The Water Authority, Agape Worship Centre, George Hicks United Church, Swift and Global, Unicorp Bank, RE/MAX, Cost-U-Less, Kirk Supermarket, Standard Chartered, Lookout Holdings, City Services, Cayman Pepper Patch, Tortuga Rum, Burger King and South Sound United Church.
“I can’t properly express the gratitude I feel for the way the community has responded.” Beulah McField, Meals on Wheels