COLE BAY, Sint Maarten – Youngsters and staffers at the Miss Lalie Youth Care and Rehabilitation Center in Cole Bay as well as inmates and prison staff at the Pointe Blanche Prison are the latest sets of persons to experience the love and care of the St. Maarten Tzu Chi Foundation.
The Foundation started the year off by spreading cheer to the groups by donating 179 food and care packages – 89 went to inmates and 67 to officers at the Pointe Blanche Prison and 23 went to the Miss Lalie Center.
A group of volunteers started off the day on January 4, by visiting the Miss Lalie Center. Although the initial plan was for Tzu Chi to just hand over the gifts during the visit, one of the officers who was inspired by Tzu Chi’s story, asked volunteers to share some words with the youths at the center. Tzu Chi volunteers delivered an inspirational talk to the youngsters during a 45-minute interaction. Both the youngsters as well as the officers present seemed to be touched by the presentation. Tzu Chi was asked to come more often to inspire the youths.
At the end of the interaction the packages were donated. Of the 23 packages handed over, ten were for youths at the facility, and 13 for officers. The packages were accepted by the Chief Officer at the facility. Two volunteers participated in this exercise.
The gifts were received gratefully. “We are very thankful for the speech. The change of mindset and also the gifts,” one officer said. He encouraged Tzu Chi to continue its efforts in the community. “Keep doing the great job that you are doing trying to change mindsets from negative to positive.”
Following the session at the Miss Lalie Center, Tzu Chi volunteers headed over to the Pointe Blanche Prison where 156 packages were donated – 89 to inmates and 67 for officers.
A representative of the prison thanked Tzu Chi for the kind gesture. “Thank you for coming every year faithfully… We appreciate everything that you do and I realize that your foundation is not just based here [in St. Maarten], but around the world and you are helpful especially in this time of the pandemic. There are a lot of us who don’t have not as much as a [loaf of] bread. So, you are the disciplines who come in and help us – the individual,” the representative said. “We appreciate you all very much.”
A spokesperson for the inmates was also thankful saying that they are grateful for the donation.
One volunteer, a retiree, said he has been with the foundation for about four years now and he is grateful to be able to assist persons in the community as a volunteer with Tzu Chi.
Another volunteer said he has always been a giver and through Tzu Chi he has an avenue to assist.
Tzu Chi St. Maarten Commissioner Sandra Cheung is happy that the foundation was able to make the donation through the assistance of its volunteers and supporters and brighten the day for many.