‘Passion to help people’ - Good Samaritan helps young and old sign up for COVID grants
Dorcia Dennis has been without a source of income since bars were ordered closed by the Government more than three weeks ago in a bid to contain the local spread of COVID-19.
But even though the liquor business isn’t in good spirits, Dennis would find renewed purpose last week when West Rural St Andrew Member of Parliament Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn enquired in a WhatsApp group if anyone had applied for the WE CARE Programme grants.
Dennis had successfully applied for the COVID-19 General Grant for bar and nightclub operators and immediately volunteered to offer her assistance to prospective beneficiaries.
Applications opened on April 9 and are aimed at providing a range of temporary benefits to individuals and businesses to help cushion the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than 100,000 Jamaicans applied for grants within the first day of the website’s launch.
On her verandah in Mount Airy, Golden Spring, is where the bulk of the work takes place using a single device – her smartphone.
Dennis also does home visits to the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions who are eligible for the compassionate grant.
She said many residents have expressed interest in applying but noted that they did not have access to a smartphone or the Internet.
“A lot of persons can’t read, or they don’t understand how to sign it up,” she added.
With the help of her partner, the 30-something provided sanitiser to the residents before they handed over documents to Dennis.
Dennis sports a mask and also cleanses her hands at intervals.
Subsequent to entering the relevant information online, she reads the declaration to each applicant, waits for their affirmation, and then asks for confirmation of the reference number on their phone.
The good Samaritan was also observed asking pertinent questions such as the applicant’s preferred payment method.
The only hiccup she has been facing is unstable Internet connectivity, but when that fails, she switches over to a data plan.
Word has been spreading and her help is stretching beyond the borders of the St Andrew West Rural community.
“I started on Saturday at about 1:30 p.m., and I did about 60 persons. Yesterday morning, I started at about 8:30 and I finished at 10:20 in the night, because for a lot of persons, I asked them to send the information to my phone instead of having so many people coming at once,” she told The Gleaner.
Seventy-four-year-old Hortense Falconer was one of the residents Dennis assisted on Monday.
“I’m in need of it to buy groceries and medication and put a little down just in case,” the elderly woman said.
Falconer was the operator of a variety store in Shortwood, St Andrew, but shuttered her doors six years ago because of limited sales and tough competition.
She explained that COVID-19 has worsened the impact of joblessness.
“I can’t even hear from my people dem abroad like how I should, and I don’t get any lickle change from them, and I know they would send something, but everybody is in the same position right now,” she said.
Falconer is looking forward to receiving the one-time payment of $10,000 in the coming weeks.
“I’m very appreciative of it, and who is in charge ... may God bless them and their efforts to help us,” Falconer said.
Dennis was a picture of fulfilment as she processed one applicant after the other.
“I’m feeling happy, and I just have a passion to help people,” she said.