Gareth Davis, Gleaner Writer
FRUITFUL VALE, Portland:
WHEN THE Curran family decided to forego a celebratory Christmas, and to instead assist with the construction of houses for two families ravaged by Hurricane Sandy in Portland, they didn't realise the impact it would have on the displaced residents.
On Sunday afternoon, tears of joy flowed from the cheeks of 72-year-old, Monica McBean, who expressed appreciation for the new year gift of a brand new house, which will also be occupied by her 74-year-old common-law husband, Ciprian Palmer, and daughter Lileeth Palmer, of Grants Gate in the parish.
McBean and another resident, Marlene Wilson, were handed the keys to their brand new homes by executive director for Food For The Poor (FFP) Jacqueline Johnson, who was accompanied by Shelly Ann Curran, and Member of Parliament Daryl Vaz.
"We are so happy for this wonderful gift," said McBean. "I'm especially thankful to the Curran family for their kind-heartedness in this difficult period. And today, we are now under a brand-new roof. We will take good care of this house and we wish you long life, good health, and prosperity."
Under the recently launched Portland Hurricane Relief Fund, which was initiated by Vaz, US$100,000 has since been collected from donors, a figure, which is being matched by FFP.
As a result, 30 houses are now being built in Portland, St Mary, and St Thomas, and the Relief Fund has since accumulated approximately J$19 million.
The FFP executive director explained that they were approached by the Curran family, who expressed a desire to assist with the construction of two houses at Grants Gate.
"They decided not to have a regular Christmas," said Johnson.
"Instead, they preferred to assist two families, who were displaced. They then proceeded to ask about the cost, and we provided them with the information. And in another week or so, the cheque was made available. So once again, we thank the giving heart of not just corporate Jamaica, but also the Curran family for their kind-heartedness."
Curran, who teamed with her husband to ensure that the two families would benefit from owning their own, said it was a pleasure to assist with the construction of the two houses for the displaced families.
"It was a real pleasure to help these two families. We learned of their plights, and rather than having our usual fanfare Christmas celebrations, we decided to see how best we could help these two families in west Portland to put their lives back together. We are encouraging every Jamaican, who is able to offer help, to join in the spirit of giving and to see how best they can assist with restoring the lives of those disrupted by Sandy."