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J’can philanthropist extends Hands of Grace and Mercy to Georgia’s needy

Published:Wednesday | November 24, 2021 | 12:08 AMJanet Silvera/Senior Gleaner Writer


Over 1,000 individuals from 400 families are fed each month by Juliet Simpson’s Hands of Grace and Mercy in Georgia, USA, and for the Jamaica-born philanthropist, Thanksgiving, traditionally celebrated on the last Thursday in November, is the perfect opportunity to feed the needy.

Last Saturday, Simpson joined hands with her church, Empowered to Win International Ministries, at one of the biggest food banks to be staged in the Stone Mountain/Snellville, Georgia area, sending home several families with far more than just turkeys, macaroni and cheese and chicken.

Hundreds of boxes containing the ingredients necessary to carry out the feast, including cooking oil, rice, beans, eggs, bacon, cereal, juices, biscuits of all types and tins of tuna, were among the harvest those who turned out, packed in their car trunks.

Born in Kingston, Simpson, who grew up in Lloyd’s, St Thomas, said she was inspired to start a charity after witnessing the needs throughout her walks. “I also realised that there were people within my own circle who were in need, but weren’t talking.”

Simpson migrated from Jamaica in 1989 to Canada and later moved to Georgia.

She has done six medical mission trips to Jamaica in the last seven years, and places such as Greenwich Farm, Spanish Town and Westmoreland have benefited. She operates an orphanage in Haiti and provides food and clothing, medical supplies on the Indian reservations in the USA.

A teacher by profession, Simpson received assistance from a number of her countrymen and women who volunteered throughout the day last Saturday, and not one of them was concerned about the legitimacy of the needs of the recipients.

All they asked was, “How many people are in your household. How many are under the age 18?” That’s all they needed to know.

The humanitarian, who has been helping people in need for the last 15 years, was quick to explain. “We actually don’t do a selection of the people who benefit. We go into low-income areas. And today we’ve been to the hotels that people live in, because they are going through hard times. So we did five hotels and low-income areas around here (Stone Mountain and Snellville) and handed out flyers wherever we met people,” she told The Gleaner.

Days before the event, people were at the church checking out the location, she added.

The outreach, she noted, was critical to those in need, and hosting the event was a message to the community that they cared about how much they would have to eat this Thanksgiving.

Simpson’s concerns were concretised by assistant pastor, Kurt Trench, who noted the importance of not just feeding those who turned out physically, but also spiritually.

This is the first year Empowered to Win has partnered with Hands of Grace and Mercy, and the Jamaica-born assistant pastor said this was the beginning of a long-term relationship.

“We want to build a greater community, not just here in Atlanta or in Stone Mountain, but we are also reaching out to our church in Jamaica,” he said.

Empowered to Win International Ministries sister church in Jamaica is the Lighthouse Assembly.

Celebrated the last Thursday in November each year, Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday in the United States and Canada, celebrating the harvest and other blessings of the past year. Americans generally believe that their Thanksgiving is modelled on a 1621 harvest feast shared by the English colonists (Pilgrims) of Plymouth and the Wampanoag people.