SIGNIFICANT DONATION -- The Rotary Club of Freeport donated $6,100 yesterday to the Young Men Training Association (YMTA) to assist the organization with purchasing much needed building supplies to restore the interior of its community centre in Hunters that was extensively damaged by Hurricane Wilma. Pictured from left to right are Sobig Kemp, Rotary Club of Freeport president; Simon Lewis, public relations director and chairman of fund-raising for the YMTA; and Stephen Gunn, club community service director. (Staff photo by ANGELO ARMBRISTER)


Local/National News

Rotary makes significant donation to youth group

By LISA S. KING, FN Asst. Editor ,

Continuing with their efforts to assist people affected by Hurricane Wilma, the Rotary Club of Freeport made a significant donation yesterday to the Young Men Training Association (YMTA), an organization that has been serving the communities of Pinder's Point, Lewis Yard and Hunters for the last three decades.

Visibly pleased with the $6,100 donation, Simon Lewis, public relations director and chairman of fund-raising for the YMTA, said the financial support given by the Rotary Club is a timely one because the YMTA is in the process of restoring its community centre, which was extensively damaged after Hurricane Wilma unleashed her fury on the southern shore of Grand Bahama.

He said the funds presented will go towards restoring the interior of the building.

"The donation itself is very timely because we were wondering what was going to happen with the next hurricane season right here, and with so much work still needed to be done to the building," Mr. Lewis said. "The community centre is the only one of its kind in the Pinder's Point, Lewis Yard and Hunters area, so its existence is badly needed.

"The funds received will go towards restoring the building, getting the facilities back up, getting the kitchen area back up as well as refurbishing the meeting area. I believe the donation will go a long way in helping to achieve this. NEMA has also assisted us already by getting the roof done and supplying sheet rock and other building supplies, so we are on our way to getting the centre up and running again."

Mr. Lewis said before the hurricane, they had started a computer training programme for the youth in the area. Now, they are in need of new computers, books to restore a once functioning library and new tables and chairs.

"There are a whole lot of things that can be done and the bottom line is to be able to get this building back up and ready for use," he said. "The building sits on some six to seven acres of land and there is a sporting field out there that we are also trying to restore that was also damaged.

"The building itself had about six feet of water inside it after the hurricane. All the electrical fixtures were destroyed because of the salt water that came in. We are confident that with donations from organizations such as the Rotary Club of Freeport and others, that the centre will be restored."

Mr. Lewis, who is very much aware that a new hurricane season has started, is optimistic that another storm will not hit Grand Bahama this year, as there is still so much to be done in repairing the centre.

"The one thing that you don't plan for is hurricanes," he said. "We know that we live in an area where hurricanes pass, so we expect that. For us to consume our minds with worrying about hurricanes is nonsense because they can happen. If it (hurricane) should come again, then we will go ahead and refurbish it (community centre) again."

Rotary Club of Freeport President Sobig Kemp said the donation represents the club's ongoing commitment to helping the hurricane victims of Grand Bahama.

"The YMTA is the only community centre in that area, by helping them in getting some of the building materials needed, they can get the centre operative, then they can better service the community because it was the place where the community gathered for their various functions. We are glad to be able to help them in that way."