As the Bryan-Roach administration continues to work vigorously to ensure the community remains safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Virgin Islands Department of Health, under the leadership of Commissioner Justa “Tita” Encarnacion on Thursday, May 14th presented preventative and safety supplies on behave of The Anderson Stewart Foundation to Ms. Clema Lewis, Executive Director of Women’s Coalition of St. Croix and Mr. Malik Stradiron, Director of Ten Thousand Helpers, Inc.
With the charitable contribution from The Anderson Stewart Foundation, DOH Commissioner Justa Encarnacion said that her staff concerns, full dedication and willingness to serve and provide aid to 1st responders and the most vulnerable community members in the territory is high priority. She credited Irving Julien, Territorial Suicide Prevention Coordinator for DOH, with coming up and immediately implementing the initiative and said that the effort could never have moved forward without the generosity of The Anderson Stewart Foundation.
The initiative began on April 30th with the gifting of supplies to the Herbert Grigg Home for the Aged followed by Queen Louise Home and HomeMakers Care in St. Thomas and St. John district spearheaded by Outreach Specialist Mr. Kwane Bartlett, C.O.S. Shanna O’Reilly and DOH Assistant Commissioner Nicole Syms. West Care /The Village, Virgin Islands Partners in Recovery was also gifted supplies where VP of Operations, Mr. Larry McArthur via-email; expressed his sincere appreciation - “ On behalf of The Village I want to thank both Irving and the Department of Health as well as make sure that the Anderson Stewart Family Foundation received our deepest thanks! We received a very generous donation, significantly more than what we asked for, which included masks, soap, hand sanitizer, and gloves! All these items are in great need as we continue to try and navigate this unprecedented time of Covid-19 while striving to continue to provide the highest quality of care to the residents of the Virgin Islands. We sincerely appreciate the support and the responsiveness from DOH. This was a simple but effective process!
Practicing the CDC social distancing guidelines, a brief presentation was conducted with minimal DOH staff in the Commissioner’s conference room to Ms. Lewis and Mr. Stradiron with items including 1,000 facial mask per non-profit organization, hand sanitizers, a variety of handwash soaps, gloves, and disinfecting cleaning supplies.
They were also presented with certificates of appreciation for their endless dedication and commitment to the Virgin Islands. During the brief presentation, Commissioner Encarnacion conference room quickly transitioned from a “conference room” into a “room of love, patience, prayer, positivity, questions, solutions and conviction that we will win this battle”.
“Yesterday, I stopped at the store to purchase some mask with my own money to give out, and right in front of the store, there was a guy who said; “Ms. you could give me a mask?” “Thank God I had one extra in my bag and I gave it to him, we do this every day”-C.Lewis.
Mr. Stradiron echoed the same sentiments as Ten Thousand Helpers, Inc has been working day in and out with the territory homeless population for decades. “I do this from inside my heart. We are rarely recognized and most of the time we do not get funding to help our homeless population, so thank you DOH, Commissioner Encarnacion, Deputy Commissioner Renan Steele, Deputy Commissioner Joan Jean-Baptiste, Deputy Commissioner Ruben Molly, Deputy Commissioner Janis Valmond, Ms. Sadia Ali, Ms. Aniah John, Director Vernita Bicette, Ms. Renee Shuster and Mr. Irving Julien. I will make sure that I distribute all my mask and continue to serve our forgotten population. Thank you, Anderson Stewart Foundation. This means a lot”.
Gratitude and appreciation was expressed to Governor Bryan and the administration, The Anderson Stewart Family, Women’s Coalition, Ten Thousand Helpers, the entire DOH staff especially DOH and JFL nurses along with the administrative support staff, Government Agencies, Commissioner Encarnacion for her leadership and dedication to the betterment of public health in the VI while courageously facing the unforeseen hurdles of COVID-19 in the eye on a daily basis and standing firm with conviction that the territory will prevail. Special accolades were also given by Julien to Ms. Renee Shuster and the Director of Behavioral and Mental Health, Ms. Vernita Bicette. He expressed “many may wonder how do they have the energy? How do they do it? Why are they doing it? Why are we doing it? It’s simple; as Mr. Stradiron said, it’s done from within the HEART!
Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. announced ASF’s $1 million donation to DOH on April 10th. Julien stated that it was essential to the foundation that the contribution not only be used to assist with the safety and protection of residents but also stimulate the local economy. Julien decided to partner with local vendors for PPE supplies to include Jamal Drummond of Amadz Fashion providing re-usable facial mask, Ramone Reed-Ventura of Cultured Natural Body Care for hand sanitizers, Cruzian Creations and Business World who will be donating 500 reusable bags to assist with distribution of items to the community.
DOH will continue its relief efforts in all districts and encourage anyone seeking updated information or guidance regarding COVID-19 to visit www.doh.vi.gov on facebook at www.facebook.com/virginislandsDOH/ or contact the department directly at 340-718-1311.