The Grenadines Initiative was launched in the spring of 2018 in order to extend the work of the Bequia Mission, renew engagement, and restate the vision that has lead the mission since it was founded in 1970. As such, the Grenadines Initiative is built on the shoulders of the leaders and volunteers that have done vital work under the Bequia Mission banner for more than four decades. Throughout it has been run by a dedicated group of volunteers in Bequia as well as those in Canada and the United States.
It is our goal to continue working hand-in-hand with existing programs, and, at the direction of local leaders, to create new ones. The assistance given to the community continues, such as the school lunch programs, the procurement of medical supplies and equipment, scholarship programs, will continue. We’ll also look to find innovative ways to grow access to education and to grow awareness of issues affecting population health.
The Bequia Mission
The Bequia Mission was founded in 1970 as a voluntary, non‐ profit charity dedicated to providing social, educational, and medical assistance to individuals and charitable organizations in the small island nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), in the eastern Caribbean. It was incorporated as a registered charity in 1981, by the late Reverend Ron Armstrong and his wife, June. Today a dedicated group of volunteers continues to fulfill the Armstrong’s vision of providing help and hope to those in need in SVG, with the support of donors from Canada, the U.S., and other countries around the world.
Most of the work in Bequia is conducted by this dedicated group of volunteers, which consists of local educators, health care professionals, business people, and concerned citizens. The committee meets monthly to consider requests for assistance from members of the community who are in need. Using a Needs Assessment model, they allocate funds where they are most needed.
Thanks to the work of the local committee, many Bequia school children, elderly shut‐ ins, and people with chronic illnesses and disabilities are provided with regular hot meals, while others receive assistance to help with emergency medical needs, school fees, clothing, medications, and social support. The following are some of core charitable organizations which the Bequia Mission/Grenadines Initiative administers:
Sunshine School for Children with Special Needs, Bequia
The Sunshine School grew out of a small school for deaf children funded by The Bequia Mission. The library at Sunshine is named for the founders, the Reverend Ron and June Armstrong, and the Initiative continues to support this school with an annual donation and shipment of educational supplies.
St. Benedict’s Day Nursery and Children’s Home
Founded in 1963 by a Canadian Catholic Priest, St. Benedict’s has long provided a safe, caring home for underprivileged children and those with physical and developmental disabilities. Weather and termite damage have taken their toll on the original buildings and funds are currently being raised for the construction of a new Day Nursery and Children’s Home near the present site in Georgetown, St. Vincent. The Initiative continues to support the work being done at St. Benedict’s through financial contributions and annual shipments of supplies.
Liberty Lodge was started in 1969 by members of the St. Vincent Police Force to help troubled boys. Their goal is to help the boys develop the skills needed for them to become responsible and productive citizens.
Bequia Schools, Hospital and Clinic
Students are supported through shipments of educational supplies to ten Bequia pre‐schools, primary and secondary schools. In addition to a feeding program for disadvantaged youngsters, several deserving students are also sponsored so as to allow them to attend college in St. Vincent. Charitable donations of medical supplies are delivered to both the Bequia Hospital and Paget Farm Clinic, as is assistance to individuals in need in times of medical emergencies.
Lewis Punnett Home, St. Vincent
For well over thirty years the Bequia Mission, now the Grenadines Initiative, has supported this home for the destitute elderly on St. Vincent. Lewis Punnett is also home to many mentally and physically challenged young people who cannot be cared for by their families. The Initiative makes an annual financial contribution to the home and also ships medical and personal care supplies for each of the hundred or so residents.
House of Hope Society AIDS Hospice, St. Vincent
We support this local initiative offer palliative care to people in the latter stages of HIV/AIDS. Volunteers ship used clothing for re‐sale in the Society’s Thrift Store. Not only do the shipments generate much‐needed funding for this worthwhile local charity, but they also provide less fortunate Vincentians with affordable, good quality used clothing, which they might otherwise be unable to obtain.