Rotary donates lunches to mentally ill offenders

The Rotaract Club of Grand Cayman has celebrated one year of donating monthly lunches to Department of Community Rehabilitation’s mentally ill adult clients appearing before the Mental Health Court.  

In response to an increasing number of adults with mental health illnesses appearing before the criminal justice system, the Department of Community Rehabilitation started the “Brown Paper Drive” initiative in 2010. In July 2013, the Rotaract Club of Grand Cayman took over the food drive. 

“The Department of Community Rehabilitation couldn’t continue [the drive] so we saw there was a need. Sometimes these guys don’t have a healthy lunch at all for the month,” said Rotaract President Stephanie Rattan. 

Ms. Rattan said, on average, the demand for lunches can range from 18 to a little more than 30 a month. 

“RCGC is extremely happy to be a part of this program, providing a balanced lunch to the clients of Department of Community Rehabilitation in the Mental Health Court system. We saw the need and were happy to assist. Our members look forward every month to packing the lunches with inspirational quotes and sayings, then handing them over to the clients,” said Ms. Rattan. 

Each month, club members pack lunches in brown paper bags decorated with creative and inspiring messages. Ms. Rattan said the lunches paired with inspiring messages are “an incentive for them to be compliant for their court date.”  

The lunches are then given to Department of Community Rehabilitation on the day the court cases are held and are distributed to each mental health client after court. Clients appear before Mental Health Court once a month on Wednesdays. 

Each meal consists of a drink, chips, cookie, fruit and either a sandwich or a patty. 

“This is an excellent example of how service organizations and government entities can work together to benefit our community,” said the department’s director, Teresa Echenique-Bowen, in a statement released this week. 

“It is important for us to realize that community needs are not the sole responsibility of government, but to call for a holistic approach and collaboration to make a difference in our Islands,” she added. 

DCR-Brown-Bag-Group

Department of Community Rehabilitation Director Teresa Echenique-Bowen, seventh from right, receives brown paper bag lunchs from Rotaract Club of Grand Cayman President Stephanie Rattan.

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