Sun | Oct 22, 2017

Shena Carty : Making a difference one life at a time

Published:Saturday | February 11, 2017 | 12:00 AMCecelia Campbell Livingston
Philanthropist Shena Carty.

Shena Carty may have migrated from Jamaica, but her whole life is about helping and giving back through helping those in need.

The Senior District, Hanover-born Carty has been championing one cause after another, through personal resources, crowd funding and reaching out to friends to assist.

In an interview with Family and Religion, she said her passion to help all comes from a desire to "understand people" which saw her pursuing degree in psychology.

Being a social media person, she said she found facebook boring as most of the groups she searched out did not appeal to her.

"I wanted something entertaining and something to stimulate my mind. I along with a few other free spirits were removed from a group for being open minded. It rubbed me the wrong way. It's as if they were saying you can't be yourself, so, I started my own group - Jamaican Madhouse," she shared.

"It's a group for people to express themselves openly, no bounds. I know we are tight lipped about personal issues and many of our women are abused in one way or another. It was a place for them to heal emotionally," she shared.

It is through this group, she also reached out for assistance with her charity venture which so far included Ray Maxwell, the first to receive help. He had bone cancer and funds were raised for him. However, he died but he awoke something in her.

"Before Maxwell, I hadn't been back to Jamaica in 18 years. I had never met him, but I loved him. He opened my eyes to the power I had at my fingertips and how much help was needed in my birth country," she said.

Since Maxwell's death in 2015, she has made the trek to her homeland four times - all for charity - Jermaine Barrett, Tianna Ken, Olivia McKoy, feeding 886 homeless people on Heroes' Day, as well as street people in Old Harbour.

Her work has not been without heartbreak as Carty said getting so involved with those she is trying to help, it breaks her heart when they succumb to their illnesses.

Her latest project was Delmar Braham, who died at the United States Embassy while waiting to be processed for a visa to receive treatment.

But thankfully the rewarding moments far outweighs the heartaches.

"Watching their faces (homeless) light up when they realise what we are doing is for them and watching Jermaine walk through the airport to get on his flight back to Jamaica," she said, cannot express the joy she felt.

Carty's wish is that through those who she had been trying to help and who died, she will see a change coming about in Jamaica's health care system.

"It's horribly broken. Doctors need to be more reliable and responsible when it comes to dealing with patients with rare cancers. They know when the case is out of their reach in early stages and should help the patients seek help and direct them to seek help as well," she said, adding that doctors have an obligation to do more for their patients and families and friends need to do more as well.

"My passion is to help people who cannot help themselves. Even though I tap into my patience reservoir and that of my team mates, the end results are usually worth it. I'd get nothing accomplished without them. They're my silent backbone," said a grateful Carty about the input of her friends.

Commenting on the name Jamaican Madhouse she said by its original name one might think it means a place where anything goes ... real craziness and fun, "but in the charity sense, it means Jamaicans Making A Difference, Helping Others Unite! Successfully Enhancing Humanity. It says it all. It's what we do," she shared.

Carty said her ultimate goal is to be a part of a change in Jamaica where charity is afforded the luxury to help as many people as possible.

"We are already planning fundraisers so we will be prepared to assist people as the need arises. With our history, people find us. It's a humbling honour, to be trusted with something as delicate as a life," she said.

familyandreligion@gleanerjm.com