September 24, 2021

Community services arrangements accelerate

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Community-Services-Leaders-and-Assistants-listen-intently.By Kaneil Barrett

Community Services Leaders and Assistants listen intently.In advance of next month’s planned community needs assessment, nearly 50 community services leaders and volunteers from Adventist churches across Grand Cayman met on Sunday (7 February) for their second training workshop.

The overall aim of the programme of community services interventions is to ¨return dignity to every individual¨ through a systematic and strategic process of empowerment and lobbying for change, workshop trainers told participants.
Adventist church administrators had announced in their January four-year planning meeting that community services would be a priority. Plans called for the ¨Manna Centre¨ distribution depot and health and legal advisory clinics. Administrators are now actively working on identifying suitable facilities for these services.

¨We would like to see these projects in place and operational early this year, given the seriousness with which we take the Biblical mandate to take care of those who are in need,¨ said President of the Cayman Islands Conference of Seventh-day Adventist, Pastor Shian O’Connor.

The-Cayman-Islands-Conference-Health-Services-Director-Mrs.-Gay-Smith-makes-a-point-at-the-workshop.Meanwhile, during 7 February workshop, the broad goals of the community services initiatives and the next steps were outlined.

The main focus was to prepare community services to administer a needs assessment survey in March in communities across Grand Cayman, said Pastor Caple Thompson, who is the Church’s Community Services Director. As a prelude, the workshop began preliminary work in developing the needs assessments survey form, for finalisation at the next workshop on 6 March. That workshop will also prepare participants for conducting the survey.

The overall objective of the community services interventions, said Pastor Thompson, was to ¨return dignity to every individual¨ and ¨to improve quality of life.¨

Workshop-Presenter-Mrs.-Jewel-Meikle-and-Community-Services-Director-Pastor-Caple-Thompson.To ensure that, he said, the underlying goal was to build self-reliance so that those who are assisted by the department could ultimately take charge of their own lives.
Workshop Presenter Mrs. Jewel Meikle and Community Services Director Pastor Caple Thompson.Workshop presenter was Mrs. Jewel Meikle, deputy principal at Cayman Academy, and a member of the planning team for the Community Services Department of the Adventist Church.

Mrs. Meikle outlined some 15 potential responsibilities of the Community Services Department. In addition to responding to physical needs through food pantries and soup kitchens, for instance, these responsibilities may include counselling, health screening and education, and even career training and drug rehabilitation.
¨Our direction will depend on our assessment of needs,¨ Mrs. Meikle said, a ¨crucial¨ foundation that would be well ¨organised and not haphazard.¨

Once the needs assessment was completed, the next step would be a process of ¨developing tools and educational initiatives to empower¨ those in need, she said. Beyond that, a goal of the project would be ¨systematic advocacy and lobbying for change¨ to ensure that disadvantaged persons gain access to opportunities and resources.

All these steps would come together, she said, into a ¨well planned strategy¨ to meet community needs.

The Cayman Islands Conference Health Services Director Mrs. Gay Smith makes a point at the workshop.Workshop participant Gay Smith, who is the church’s Departmental Director for Health Services, noted that many of these activities are already taking place to varying degrees in Adventist churches across Cayman under their local board-appointed community services committees.

¨Each church already plays a role in discovering community needs, mobilising resources, undertaking programme development, and ensuring intra-organisational cooperation,¨ she said.


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