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Helping themselves - Homeless shelter find innovative ways to meet needs

Published:Saturday | December 8, 2012 | 12:00 AM
The recently renovated Portland Rehabilitation Centre. - Photo by Gareth Davis

Gareth Davis, Gleaner Writer


RESIDENTS AT the Portland Rehabilitation Centre in Port Antonio are learning about the advantages of becoming self-sufficient through a number of initiatives implemented by Robert Florea, operations manager at the facility.

Florea, who has overall responsibility for the 17 displaced men and women with varying disabilities and social backgrounds, ensures that they are fed, housed, clothed, and trained so that they would be able to resume their lives in society.

"We have a therapist who works on their mental side. The residents are then analysed and treated with medicines," said Florea. "In addition, they are taught to deal with their emotions and physiological issues. They are trained to make purses and things like cellphone cases, which are sold. Some of the money is handed back to them, and the rest goes back to the shelter. We have a separate dorm for males and females."

The Portland Rehabilitation Centre, which is referred to as the homeless shelter, is a place that takes in people off the streets - persons who have been ravaged by natural disasters and who have nowhere to live, and those affected by mental illness.

A coop, where domestic chickens are raised, provides a source of protein for the residents at the centre. Some of the output is sold as an additional source of income to offset expenses at that facility.


The rehabilitation building was spared the wrath of Hurricane Sandy, which damaged a driveway leading to the facility; however, a recent donation of CDN$29,000 by the High Commission of Canada will go a far way in not only repairing the driveway, but also in expanding the chicken coop, as well as in constructing a storage facility and a security post.

Continuing, Florea said: "It's amazing at times to see the quick recovery made by some of these people who have been abandoned by society. After a few weeks, they quickly adapt and respond well to treatment and therapy to the extent that they are able to communicate remarkably well. They are very creative and aware, and once they are assigned chores, they are carried out with a minimum of fuss."