Mon | Feb 6, 2023

Senior gets early Christmas present

Church completes construction of home for shut-in member

Published:Tuesday | December 6, 2022 | 12:08 AMAinsworth Morris/Staff Reporter
Lurlene Dawson, visits the site of the construction of her new home as volunteers from the Shortwood District of Seven-Day Adventist Church work in the background.
Lurlene Dawson, visits the site of the construction of her new home as volunteers from the Shortwood District of Seven-Day Adventist Church work in the background.
Members of the Shortwood District of Seventh-Day Adventist Church work to complete a house in Grants Pen, St Andrew, for handover to Lurlene Lawson, a senior of the church community.
Members of the Shortwood District of Seventh-Day Adventist Church work to complete a house in Grants Pen, St Andrew, for handover to Lurlene Lawson, a senior of the church community.
1
2

The Shortwood Seventh-day Adventist Church, located in Grants Pen, one of Kingston’s gritty inner city communities, is seeking to deliver an early Christmas gift to Lurlene Lawson, a long-standing church member. They are working to complete the construction of a house for her in a few days, well ahead of the holiday.

Lawson migrated to Kingston from Westmoreland four decades ago and has given unwavering service to the church.

The aged Lawson worried however that she would soon have to return to Westmoreland to family land as she could no longer find her way financially in Kingston.

But one church brother, Lloyd Gayle, was determined that that would not be so.

He shared his vision of the house for Lawson with an elder of the church, Merlene Tyrell, who also serves as community services director, and on February 2021, the project was started by the duo.

Another friend, Clarice Williams, sought permission from the owner of the land in Grants Pen to construct the house.

Money from members of the church was used to flash and render the walls and to cast a concrete roof, and on Sunday, the group of volunteers was busy putting on the finishing touches. Other members with varying skills including as carpenter, plumbers, construction supervisors, and masons attended weekly to give their service free of charge.

Pastor Lambert Hamilton told The Gleaner that the construction of the house was a positive from the pandemic.

He said that one of the major ways by which it was made possible was through donations from persons via the online church, which was broadcast on YouTube and Facebook, with persons in the diaspora donating after watching the weekly services.

“Thanks be to God. We have had significant input from the membership of the Seventh-day Adventist Church at Shortwood. We’ve had financial input from the member of parliament, from the East Jamaica Conference, and even members and supporters in the diaspora, and persons who are not Seventh-day Adventists, but persons who have been blessed by our ministry though our virtual church,” he said. STARTED OUT WITH FAITH

Lawson, a former Bible study and children’s classes teacher, is elated that the children she nurtured on a weekly basis have remembered her and rallied for her to get a house.

“I’m feeling happy to know that I am going to get somewhere to live comfortable. I thank the brethren and I can’t say thanks enough,” Lawson, who was on the verge of tears, told The Gleaner on Sunday.

Tyrell commended the efforts of the persons involved and the full support of the church. She recalled the process to realise the goal of providing a home for the much-loved senior, reporting that to date, not all funds gathered had been used up.

“We first approached the councillor, Winston Ennis, and he gave us the first financing, which we used to clear the land, and Brother Gayle and I started. We didn’t have the money, but we started out with faith and by faith,” she said.

“We used our personal funds to do all of the pre-,work and we started buying a little material and doing a little work,” she said.

Carl Bailey, a mason, who drafted a design similar to that of the multimillion-dollar one-bedroom units being issued under the New Social Housing Project by Prime Minister Andrew Holness, was commissioned for the job.

Tyrell said they ran into financial problems, and it was then that they decided to approach the board of the church in November 2021.

“Since then, the church has stood behind us until we reach the point now where we are complete. They never hesitated,” Tyrell said.

The church will hand over keys to the house to Lawson on December 18.

ainsworth.morris@gleanerjm.com