The Turks and Caicos Islands Salvation Army has opened its multimillion-dollar Brighter Futures Community Centre, aimed at providing greater aid programmes to the less fortunate, while offering an events’ venue at an affordable cost.
The building, located along the Leeward Highway in Providenciales, and can also be accessed at Ocean View Drive, Richmond Hill, was officially commissioned on Sunday, January 15, with the top brass of the regional Salvation Army representatives, local political directorate, and some of the major donors to the project in attendance.
Commissioner Devon Haughton, his wife Commissioner Verona Haughton and Major Roodolph Meo, Divisional Commander for The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands the Salvation Army were in attendance. The Haughtons brought greetings on behalf of the regional body, while Major Meo, who, in addition to bringing greetings, chaired the event.
The building consists of the Salvation Army church, a large multi-purpose event center, an early childhood education classroom, and a commercial community kitchen to be used to supply hot lunches to at-risk students in government schools, counseling rooms, and the Salvation Army TCI administration offices.
The Salvation Army stated that eventually, the facility will include a community garden and will become a certified hurricane shelter for the public.
The facility will also be home to Junior Achievement TCI, the TCHTA Little Chefs program, the TCHTA Hospitality Program, The TCI Youth Parliament, the Police Youth Band, and others.
Todd Foss, Head of the Salvation Advisory Board and the Fundraising Committee, stated the institution will be looking forward to partner with other likeminded organizations such as the Ed Garland Youth Center.
Foss noted that the Brighter Futures Community Center is open at when they youth of the country search for direction, as some of them have been swallowed up by violent crimes.
“Not having a facility made things challenging. We want other youth-based non-profit organizations to call the Brighter Futures Community Center home so they can expand their work, Foss said.
Foss pointed out that the opening of the Brighter Futures Community Centre was 10 years in the making.
“This facility will provide the children of our nation with hope,” he said.
Foss explained that it was difficult for the entity to raise the $2.6 million needed to purchase the land and construct the building by holding traditional fundraisers.
“We did not want to impact our regular fundraising which supports several programs such as the hot lunch program for at-risk students, textbook and school uniform initiatives, food insecurity assistance, the seniors’ transportation program in Middle Caicos, or any of the other good work that occurs regularly in our islands. We focused on private donations, and even then, we were careful not to disrupt the funding of other local non-profits also doing great work,” he revealed.
Foss explained that it took several years to get their first large donation. A donation that gave them the confidence and hopes that they could eventually reach their goal.
He said the Salvation of The Bahamas, together with the International Salvation underwrote the purchasing of the land. He stated that as soon as the site was purchased, he went on the fundraising push with great vigor.
“Now that we had a site, I could give my pitch with confidence and four years into the effort we received a $50 000 donation from Canadians Dale and Wendy Papke of Ports of Call. That donation gave me hope.
“While we managed several $5,000 and $10 000 donations, we still had a long way to go until I met the David and Julie Brown family, also from Canada. The Brown family loves the Turks and Caicos Islands and makes it their home many months of the year. They also care about young people and want to provide as many opportunities as possible. They were game changers with a total commitment of $750 000 toward the project,” Foss stated.
Foss further explained that it was not just money that was needed to get the project built, but expertise and assistance.
“Not only did the Brown Family offer critical financial support, but the entire family also including their son Kyle helped me produce a marketing plan and materials.
“When you have like-minded caring people helping you do the heavy lifting, it becomes easier to move forward. We found an amazing contractor in Phillip ‘Skintight’ Handfield, to build the facility at cost.
“Another huge step forward occurred when Mark and Anna Parrish offered their support. Mark, owner of the quantity surveying firm Concept Plus, agreed to project manage the construction process as a volunteer. Anna donated all the stone and ceramic tiles along with most of the windows for the building”.
Todd Foss and wife Leslie accept a plague from Salvation Army Territorial Commissioner, Devon Haughton.
Territorial Commissioner for the Salvation, Devon Haughton (left) presents a plague to Mark and Anna Parrish.
Devon Haughton, the Territorial Commissioner for the Salvation, presents a plaque to the Brown family, from left son Kyle, father David and wife Julie.
During the pandemic, the construction of the facility hit a snag due to construction materials costs skyrocketing, and it was deemed that another $200,000 would be needed to cover the increases.
I made an appeal to the members of the Turks and Caicos Hotel and Tourism Association (TCHTA) and within 48 hours we had raised the extra funds to complete the facility. It was an incredible show of caring corporate citizenship,” Foss said.
The local Salvation Army is headed by Major Ernest Gachelin and his wife Germanie Gachelin.