The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Central Jamaica recently inaugurated a new center for the poor and homeless in Mandeville, Jamaica. The Life Hope Center, located on the grounds of the Mandeville Adventist Church, will welcome the homeless of the community as a one-stop location where they can shower, receive a meal, receive clothes, and get prayer, counseling and medical attention.
The center is the first of five centers of influence that the church is planning to establish across various cities in central Jamaica, said Pastor Levi Johnson, president of the church in the Central Jamaica Conference. “We discovered that all the town centers in central Jamaica are growing,” said Johnson as he referenced to the nearly 400,000 people living in the seven major cities and towns in the region.
“This puts serious strain on limited infrastructure and resources and can impact negatively on the quality of life of persons who are poor, vulnerable and displaced,” said Johnson. “We are expecting that people who visit the Life Hope Center will receive special care and love and have their needs met, whether those needs are counseling, medical, dental or otherwise.”
The latest available report by the National Committee on Homelessness is from 2012, with hundreds of persons who are homeless island-wide. The growing homelessness has been considered a chronic problem ever since Hurricane Gilbert brought widespread destruction on the island in 1988.
Councilor Jones Oliphant representing Peter Bunting, Member of Parliament for Central Manchester, said that the new center of influence is the third such institution, established to address the needs of the poor in the city of Mandeville.
Oliphant congratulated the Adventist church for establishing the center and said that he will take a resolution to the next meeting of the council that this newly established center of influence be listed under the Bureau of Supervision that can get the help needed to carry out its functions.
Oliphant expressed the desire of the Council not to allow feeding of the homeless on the streets. “They prefer these persons taken to a home or shelter where they can eat with dignity, have a bath and have other needs met,” said Oliphant. “If you need to feed the homeless, get in touch with one of the three centers that are established to addressed these needs. Not because they are homeless or mentally challenged, we need to let them know that they are valued.”