Brothers of Bermuda has applied to the relevant government officials for a building to house a free medical service outlet for local residents without insurance due to unemployment.
The local charity, which formed just over a year ago, has secured the services of a number of healthcare professionals, who have volunteered to provide free treatments on weekends for senior citizens and others unable to afford medical, dental, or eye care due to no insurance.
According to co-founder Rollin Nathan, a number of donors have stepped up to assist with renovations and the installation of the medical equipment required to help meet the growing needs of residents who are under-insured, or uninsured due to unemployment, or the inability to work as a result of age, or disabilities.
The group has also secured the services of several nurses to visit the homes of senior citizens for medical checks. And they recently launched a food programme that delivers meals to seniors at their homes on weekends.
While reluctant to disclose details until the logistics are finalised, he said it’s all part of the charity’s expansion plans to address the country’s growing social needs, particularly at a time when so many families are struggling to survive and make limited ends meet.
The group formed in March 2016, to provide a solid base for men, particularly men struggling to find full-time jobs, who have criminal convictions. Over the past year, Mr Nathan said the charity has assisted nearly 40 men by finding them full-time employment, including men with criminal records, who had difficulty finding a job due to their convictions.
“We have been providing support on the spiritual, educational, legal, medical and social levels, by providing jobs and securing all of the necessary aspects of the day-to-day lives of men both young and old, who find themselves unable to get back up on their feet for a number of reasons,” said Mr Nathan.
Sooner or later he said, prisoners are released from prison. No matter how long that inmates sentence was, he said facilitating a life without crime is a crucial factor in reducing, or eliminating Bermuda’s recidivism rate. And that’s one of the group’s main goals.
“We address many of the challenges these men face when looking for legitimate work, finding it, and then keeping a solid job to stand on their own two feet to survive on their own.” In that regard, he said the group addresses “each man’s need, whatever state he’s in, from where he is, by mentoring him, at any age, to reach his greatest potential”.
“If they’re in prison, we’re going to work with them to come out and find something progressive to do when they get out of prison,” said Mr Nathan. The group has also networked vigorously to create corporate/community partnerships, to produce mentoring programs and steady work projects.
At the time of this interview, that work project was a landscaping contract to clear debris in Dockyard in the lead up to the America’s Cup. One of the employees on the job was a former inmate.
For the purpose of this interview, we’ll refer to him as Jay, a man in his late 30s, who had recently walked out of prison for the first time in nearly ten years. He had just finished serving an eight-year prison term for a crininal offence involving the use of a firearm. He was convicted for being involved with others in a home invasion.
Jay was released last September, with $3,000 saved up in the bank from the prison work release program. He had no place to live and no idea where, or how he would land a job to maintain an honest living without a life of crime. That life that kept him in and out of prison for most of his adult years.
Asked what was his first order of business when he got out prison that day, he said he was heading straight to the bank, to withdraw cash to stay at a guest house while he searched for a job and a permanent residence.
As fate would have it, he found an apartment, and landed a full-time job within a matter of days. While at the bank, he saw a man he had know for many years, who just happened to have two apartments up for rent.
“I told him I had a cash deposit with rent and that I desperately needed somewhere to live. And just like that, he gave me a chance.” Admittedly, he said: “Any criminal conviction, especially one involving firearms, is a big strike against you; and not many people are willing to look past that.
“But I’ve got to eat! Without a job, prison has a revolving door because a life of crime leads to jail. And once you’re out of jail without a job, it’s real easy to fall back into a life of crime, which leads right back prison,” he said.
Soon after he moved into his new dwelling, he landed a full-time job through Brothers of Bermuda, after meeting Mr Nathan by chance, in a city grocery store. Since then the landscaping contract that required a 13-man crew has ended. Mr Nathan said Jay has been moved to various job sites as the work comes in, and the charity assisted other crew members to find other jobs.
He also appealed to members of the community who have work projects to offer to contact him to help keep men like Jay, and others gainfully employed. The charity’s work crews all sorts of jobs, including painting, maintenance and landscaping.. They also have special rates for seniors.
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