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Merraro-Francis seeks to grow Canada Grace Mission

Published:Tuesday | January 2, 2018 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju

In the three years that she has spearheaded the treat for senior citizens in Greenwich Farm, support has been growing for the Canada Grace Mission but not to the level she wants to see it grow, head honcho Carolyn Merraro-Francis admitted to The Gleaner.

From her base in Toronto, Canada, the registered nurse networks with Team New York and Team Jamaica in order to ensure that things run smoothly and that the services offered fit the needs of the beneficiaries.

"It's a challenge, but we have a WhatsApp page where we communicate, and as the leader of the pack, I ask questions, get feedback, and Team Jamaica will do what is asked to be done. Most of it comes out of my pocket, and in Toronto, I do have people who donate to me, like close friends and family, who will bring groceries, but it's mostly out of my pocket," she admitted.

"Every time I purchase my groceries, I make sure I have two bags for the mission, and that's how it goes. But I don't get any financial donation from any big companies in Canada yet because I am not registered with Canada Revenue Agency yet. So I'm going to be doing that so I can get better donations and improve on the mission," Merraro-Francis disclosed.

Despite this, the senior citizen care facility where she works has been very helpful in donating wheelchairs, walkers, and walking sticks, as well as medical supplies such as high-intensity dressing, which are critical for treating bed sores.


Long-term plan


Growing the mission is key to realising her long-term plan of operating a non-profit adult care centre in Jamaica, but this will mean getting up to speed with the voluminous red tape, which is a feature of doing business in Jamaica. On this trip, she got a rude awakening but was able to overcome through a $100,000 donation from Red Stripe.

After being forced to spend some of the money to cater the treat for senior citizens in Greenwich Town because they could not prepare the meals due to the lack of piped water in the community, a lot of it went back into the Government's coffers.

"I do have a certificate, but we didn't know that we had to file our taxes last March, so they charged us $5,000 per month and $40,000 we had to pay before I could get the certificate to clear the goods. And then the wharf still tax you, so I used that money to pay."