More than 100 men, women and children – the volunteers of Bahamas Feeding Network (BFN) and their families – today thanked Royal Caribbean International for what one called “an awesome cruise with memories that will last until eternity.”
The 100+ cruisers were guests of honour aboard Freedom of the Seas for a complimentary four-day cruise that took them from the Port of Miami to Nassau, Perfect Day at CocoCay and back to Miami.
BFN Chairman Felix Stubbs lauded Royal Caribbean International for its generous gift to the volunteers.
“Royal Caribbean continues to demonstrate commitment to its partnership with Bahamas Feeding Network. I express profound gratitude to Royal Caribbean on behalf of the Network’s Board of Directors,” Stubbs said. “These volunteers give of their time tirelessly and we are so grateful that Royal Caribbean recognizes their service to community and rewarded it in this memorable way.”
The Network’s Executive Director Lester Ferguson agreed.
“Corporate friendships like the one we share with Royal Caribbean are essential to the progress of our work,” said Ferguson. “We are both heavily vested in our community, so it’s great when can work together to achieve the common good. We’re simply better together.”
Former Executive Director Philip Smith who still serves on the Board and who accompanied the volunteers said, “Royal Caribbean International has always been the most incredible partner for the Bahamas Feeding Network. But treating more than 100 people to a cruise – wow, that is an unbelievable show of generosity and kindness and something that the tireless volunteers of Bahamas Feeding Network will never forget.”
Royal Caribbean International executives and crew have visited BFN, volunteering themselves, and shoring up a bond that began four years ago with RCI President & CEO Michael Bayley serving the community and those who came from afar in search of a hot meal and the warmth of friendship.
Since then, the cruise line has been a constant partner, living up to its commitment to donate $400,000 in 2020 at the height of COVID although its ships were anchored and there was no revenue. In the same year, they also donated 21 forty-foot containers of frozen meat. That donation was worth nearly $800,000.
For Distribution and Volunteer Coordinator Recina ‘Scully’ Ferguson, who has been at the heart of the volunteer organization since its inception in 2013, the cruise was more than a celebration. It was an opportunity to find freedom and rejuvenate.
“It was an awesome trip. The service was on point, it was excellent. I appreciate Royal Caribbean so highly,” said Ms. Ferguson, the former educator who Smith credits with working non-stop. “The ship was named Freedom of the Seas and that is what I felt, freedom. I felt like a heavy weight was lifted off me for that four-day cruise. I’m raring to get back to feeding those in need and making sure no one goes hungry who we can help.”
The Bahamas Feeding Network recently moved into its new home, two doors south of its former location. In January, Lester Ferguson succeeded Smith as the second executive director of the NGO which helps to provide more than 60,000 meals per month through its 97 feeding program partners, fulfilling its mission to provide a central hub for donations and assistance, maximizing resources in order to create a sustainable solution to poverty and help eradicate hunger in the Bahamas.