Pastor Henry Peters (left) holds the cloth face masks next to Mrs. Roselin McFarlane (right), a representative of the Independent Living Center in St. Croix, holds the donated goods on May 14, 2020. Church members made 125 cloth face masks to help residents with disabilities during the pandemic.  [Photo: North Caribbean Conference]

June 4, 2020 | St. Croix, US Virgin Islands | NCC Staff/IAD News Staff

When the local chapter of the Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) in St. Croix, US. Virgin Islands, recently appealed to the community for face masks on behalf of some of the more vulnerable sectors of the population, the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the North Caribbean Conference was swift to fulfill that need.

The North Caribbean Conference’s Community Services department took to the task of coordinating production of 125 face masks to go towards a center which houses independent-living residents, thanks to two church members, Velda Messiah and Catherine Simon, said Pastor Henry Peters, personal ministries director for the church in the North Caribbean Conference and who oversaw the project. “The organization wanted masks that could be reused and we thought that it was important to lend our assistance in doing that,” said Peters.

The St. Croix centers for independent living operate under the direction of the Virgin Islands Association for Independent Living, which is a nonprofit organization that provides services for persons with disabilities.

For Catherine Simon, the opportunity to sew to help others was a real blessing.

Catherine Simone, a church member in St. Croix, US Virgin Islands, sows dozens of cloth face masks for independent-living residents in a nearby center. [Photo: Royston Philbert]

“It took us a while to find the right elastic on the island which caused some delay in the production, but it felt good to be able to be active even with the Covid situation and gave a sense of connection,” said Mrs. Simon. The fabric she was able to use was one that she had stored away for over three years. “I realized the fabric was perfect for the job and I thought that God really knows what He is doing, and has a purpose for each of us.” Mrs. Simon said her two daughters and niece helped her finish off dozens of fabric masks in about three days.

“While I was sewing I thought this is what Dorcas felt like, because I would always remember the teacher saying that Dorcas would sew for people. I don’t know how exact that was, but I think that was one the first things that came to mind as I started to sew.”

Church leaders donated the 125 completed face masks to the VOAD chapter representatives.

“We want to thank you for the opportunity to join with you in helping to mitigate the spread of this terrible virus,” said Pastor Desmond James, president of the North Caribbean Conference. “We are happy that we can collaborate with our community in making this valuable contribution so that we can help our senior citizens and community at large.”

Kimiah and Sidaezsa Simon help their mom Catherine help in the making of the masks as part of the community services project from their church to assist during the pandemic crisis. [Photo: Royston Philbert]

Roselin McFarlane, a representative of the center, thanked the Seventh-day Adventist Church for its contribution and said that “seniors are among the most vulnerable affected by the coronavirus and we want to make sure that when they leave home, they are properly protected.”

“The items donated speaks well of the church’s intent to meet the needs of the community,” said Pastor Wilmoth James, executive secretary and local ADRA director of the conference. “The church is passionate about its reach to the community. In this period of pandemic, the love of God fills us with courage.”

Pastor James said that the church has a well-organized disaster response system managed by the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) and embraces opportunities to be a friend to the community.  According to James, the Adventist church has also offered coordinated transportation for senior citizens who needed to go grocery shopping and with the transportation of meals for public school students affected by the quarantine.

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