With the assistance of countless local and international donors, the Grand Bahama Children’s Home (GBCH) continues to push toward its goal of welcoming their children back for the Christmas holidays. Since the passage of Hurricane Dorian in September, executives led by GBCH Director, Sheila Johnson Smith have been working tirelessly to reconstruct and refurbish the Home, which has been the refuge for abandoned, abused, neglected and orphaned children in the Northern Bahamas. At the time of Hurricane Dorian, the Home housed 32
children who, along with the staff, had to be evacuated due to rising waters from the storm surge. “It has not been an easy road, but we are so thankful for all of the pledges and donations that have poured in to help us give our kids a Home again,” said Smith.
With aid coming in from various relief groups including the Friends of North Andros, South Florida’s Indian Princesses and the Steve and Marjorie Harvey Foundation, the Home has been able to make significant progress. Most recently, on November 21, 2019, the Caribbean American Cultural Arts Foundation hosted a special fundraising event in Atlanta, Georgia, to support the Home. The Caribbean American Cultural Arts Foundation is a 501©3 tax-exempt organization founded in 2016 by Michael Thomas. The Foundation supports hurricane response and recovery and provides educational mentorship programs to young people seeking higher education. In addition, the Foundation focuses on the study, advancement, and presentation of Caribbean arts, culture, and humanities.
“Having lived through deadly hurricanes, I know how storms can disrupt and destroy everyday life,” noted CACAF Chairman, Michael Thomas. “As adults, we can figure out how to move on but for children, the adjustment can be more challenging, add the issue of being orphaned or a child who had to be removed from his or her home, and it complicates matters even more,” he continued. “That’s why it is so important for us to step up and help restore daily life for these precious children.” The event held at the Atlanta Commerce Center and hosted by Good Day Atlanta Anchor, Sharon Lawson, was the second international event geared at raising funds for the GBCH to rebuild. In addition to hosting scores of the city’s most successful entrepreneurs and business owners, the evening also featured a special ‘State of The Bahamas’ message from Bahamas Consul General of Atlanta, Astra Armbrister-Rolle.
The Counsul General used the occasion to provide updates on donation distributions in the islands that poured in from people across the USA and highlighted the various opportunities for further alliances and partnerships aimed at assisting the victims of Hurricane Dorian in the Northern Bahamas. “I’m proud to see the community standing strong with The Bahamas,” noted Armbrister-Rolle. “This is a beautiful example of the village healing itself and I am grateful to the organizers for what they are doing to help our country and our children.” With the work to rebuild the Home now in full swing, executives expect that full restoration could take them well into 2020.
“We are concentrating on rebuilding our main residences now,” said Smith. “Next, we will work on contents for the Home and then we are going to open up our third residence for the children from Abaco. We have a lot to do, a lot to plan for but with events and the tremendous support we are getting – we know we will make it happen.” For those wanting to help the GBCH with the ongoing restoration financial donations are encouraged via the organization’s GoFundMe account: