Fri | Nov 16, 2018

The best birthday gift ever!

Published:Wednesday | November 7, 2018 | 12:00 AMCarl Gilchrist/Gleaner Writer
Levy Neath (seated), otherwise called 'Shakey Bunny', is joined inside his new home by (from left) Mayor Michael Belnavis, Michael Wilks, Doreen Crowther, Pastor Ephraim Philburn, Prince Hall and Rainford Johnson.
The old house
The new house

For Prince Hall and his We Believe Foundation, the thought is that trees don't bear fruits for themselves, but for us to eat. So as people, we are obliged to help others.

When Hall launched his gospel album, We Believe, on Father's Day, June 17, in Ocho Rios, the event was to raise funds to help build a house for Levy Neath, otherwise called 'Shakey Bunny', an indigent who lived then in a dilapidated building in Harrison Town on the outskirts of Ocho Rios.

On the occasion of Neath's 67th birthday on Wednesday, October 10, which incidentally was celebrated worldwide as World Homeless Day, Hall and others involved in the construction of the home handed it over to him.

It was the perfect gift for a man who had been occupying a wattle-and-daub building that was literally falling apart and could hardly help himself, being a shut-in.

A dozen or so chairs to accommodate a small gathering, music, a birthday cake, well-wishers and, most importantly, the keys to the house made the evening a really special occasion for Shakey Bunny and even those who were gathered there.




Before singing Great is Thy Faithfulness, Hall told the gathering that it was all about God and added: "I want to also thank all those who were involved in this, and we're not stopping here; there are other persons in our area who also need help. We cannot help everyone, but there is always someone who we can help. I just want to thank you all. I really, really love how you guys have come out and supported this."

Mayor of St Ann's Bay Michael Belnavis said he has never seen a community rally around as it did to build the house.

"I would like to recognise Prince Hall. If it wasn't for Prince, it wouldn't have happened," Belnavis said. According to the mayor, he has never seen Shaky Bunny so happy.

The handing over also came with gifts. Belnavis disclosed that the St Ann Municipal Corporation would be providing a monthly stipend of $2,500 along with food stuff and other items to Shaky Bunny.

And Oliver Green of Ocho Rios Carpet Centre pledged to pay half of the cost to employ a caretaker for Shaky Bunny, while the other half will be paid by a service club based overseas, he promised.

The Harrison family was also commended for donating the land for the construction of the house.

The handing-over ceremony was coloured by songs and poetry in tribute to Shaky Bunny, while Doreen Crowther was recognised for her role in supporting him. Pastor Ephraim Philburn of Harrison Town New Testament Church of God blessed the house before it was handed over.

Representatives of the Poor Relief Department were also in attendance and handed over two solar lamps to be used in the yard.

Hall later told The Gleaner: "I am elated. Life is about planting seeds; we don't know of any tree that bears fruits for itself. Trees bear fruits so we can eat from them, and so it is in grace - we are created by God to serve our fellow men, and we serve our fellow men by helping those who are in need, and we're going to be doing more of these projects. We Believe Foundation is about bearing fruits for others, and we are hoping that we can bear more fruits and help someone else in need."