Local non-profit organization, Do-Nation Foundation affirmed its deep commitment last Sunday afternoon to make a meaningful contribution towards the socio-economic development of Saint Lucians.
The affirmation came during the organization’s official launch held in the Vladimir Lucien Theatre at the Gros Islet Human Resource Development Centre where a small gathering was held in conformity with set COVID-19 protocols.
Formed in January this year, Do-Nation Foundation’s mandate is the provision of dedicated service to eradicate social ills in the lives of our citizens, one person at a time. In anticipation of its official launch, the organization was involved in various activities to provide socio-economic support to affected families across Saint Lucia.
For instance, close to a dozen families were the recipients of food hampers and toiletries when Do-Nation Foundation’s nearly 30 volunteers participated in a food drive in observance of Good Deeds Day on Sunday, April 11. Distribution of food hampers was based on shortlisted candidates in communities between Bois d’Orange and Barre Denis, but packages were also presented to persons whose plight were visible along the route.
Do-Nation Foundation is the brainchild of Diane Felicien, who, during her address at the official launch, spoke about growing up in Marchand, Castries, and witnessing the many struggles people faced. Determined to make a difference in people’s lives, she quit her hotel job of nearly 18 years and became Coordinator of Volunteer Saint Lucia before moving on to form Do-Nation Foundation.
During her childhood years, Felicien said the harsh realities of life in Marchand were ever-present: struggling mothers, fatherlessness, domestic violence, sexual, emotional and mental abuse, rape, unemployment and poverty. These are just some of the areas in which Do-Nation Foundation aims to alleviate people’s plight.
“Consider these ills the reality of many,” Felicien said. “Families barely standing, their foundation weakened by the aftermath of the aforementioned issues. Some have embraced this reality as truth and others continue to be optimistic that society would come together and advocate against these ills that it deems social.”
Felicien’s dream is that hope that all Saint Lucians should make a stronger and united attempt to eradicate the root cause of social issues: poverty. She added that the impact of a fragmented social structure, a challenged health sector, a system where justice hardly ever prevails and a disheartening state of mental health and wellbeing, are all real issues that get swept under the carpet.
Do-Nation Foundation’s Executive Director, Claudia Niles, said the new organization’s journey has not been without its fair share of challenges, including the lack of an office space to run the secretariat and no available funds. However, she said that through collaborative efforts and sponsorships, citizens will benefit from a wide range of services, including:
· Job placement
· Rehabilitation and reintegration into society for troubled adults and youths
· Holistic approach with each client and support to recovery from their situation
· Teaching single parents the necessary parenting skills and how to maintain balance in their lives
· Police guidance/support/legal advice for victims
· Monthly follow-ups and updates on clients
· Community projects designed to foster positive societal change
· Triage service before referral for counseling
“So far, we have managed to meet virtually, in our vehicles and in a coffee shop,” said Niles. “However, we have recognized the urgent need to have an office space to accommodate an administrative staff to better manage the activities and the volunteers.”
She added: “Despite the challenges, we are determined to ensure the success of our foundation and sincerely thank all those who have joined us so far in lending a hand and sponsored our past projects and as well as making today a reality.”
Girls Who Brunch Tour is the sister organization of Do-Nation Foundation and based in the United States. Its founder, Ni’Cola Mitchell, relayed a recorded congratulatory message to the new organization, urging volunteers to embrace the journey of assisting the most vulnerable in our society.
Featured speaker, Lenard “Spider” Montoute, was among the specially invited guests last Sunday who also included Senate President Jeannine Michele Giraudy-McIntyre and Jacintha Lee. Montoute, the Member of Parliament for Gros Islet, said that especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, it was opportune that Do-Nation Foundation’s journey would begin due to the services it offers.
“We have to, as a people, do all that we can to lend a hand to assist each other where we can,” Montoute said. “It is often said that it takes a community to raise a child…So we all must, at this juncture play our part, whether it be that you give of your talents, time or resources.”
Montoute, who is also Minister for Equity, Social Justice, Local Government and Empowerment, urged other Saint Lucians to become volunteers of Do-Nation Foundation and other organizations and contribute to nation-building.