Widowed and homeless - now community helps Earlene rebuild

By DENISE MAYCOCK

Tribune Freeport Reporter

dmaycock@tribunemedia.net

A MONTH after losing her husband, widow Earlene Stubbs and her family were homeless when their home in Seagrape, Eight Mile Rock, was destroyed by Hurricane Matthew.

Now a community of individuals has banded together and is rallying behind her by spearheading a massive volunteer effort to rebuild her house and have her in it by next April. Businessman David Wallace, who is a part of a committee that was formed to help Mrs Stubbs, is appealing to the public for assistance by donating building materials and supplies, or money.

Mrs Stubbs, who cares for her mentally and physically disabled son, in addition to eight other family members, was left homeless in October 2016 when Hurricane Matthew destroyed their two-bedroom wooden home.

According to Mr Wallace, local government in conjunction with central government tried at that time to start reconstruction of the home. However, Mrs Stubbs did not receive any assistance.

"As you can recall, many homes were damaged, and unfortunately they were not able to get to everyone. And, she had just lost her husband a month prior to the hurricane," he said.

Mr Wallace said that Seagrape resident Jimmy Smith, former chief councilor for the West Grand Bahama district, called him and started asking what the community could do to help with reconstructing Mrs Stubbs' home.

A committee, comprising persons from the community, including residents, church members, community leaders, local government officials, was established.

Contractor Cyril Harvey has come on board to assist the group. He said that the items they need to start the project are eight truckloads of fill, concrete blocks, steel, 2x4 wood, and plywood. He said that other materials such as plumbing and electrical supplies, tiles, etc, are also needed.

The plan is to build a two-bedroom wooden home that is wheelchair friendly. During the month of October, they will be collecting donations, and expect to start construction in November. A list of materials needed for the project are at Polar Electric and LMC Lumber in Grand Bahama for persons wishing to purchase supplies.

Mr Wallace said that they will be soliciting help from businesses in Freeport.

"My goal is by Easter next year to have the home completed and furnished," he said. "We are calling on the public at large, whether you know Mrs Stubbs or not, for assistance. She has a special child and they have been displaced.

"The community of Seagrape is happy to rally around Mrs Stubbs and get her back in her home. We want to make sure the community sees unity because these things transcend politics."

Pakesia Parker Edgecombe, MP for West Grand Bahama and Bimini, said that the coming together of people to assist someone is need is a demonstration of "true community".

"What we are witnessing here today is true community, the realisation that every one of us needs each other to survive," she said. "What this group is going to do for Mrs Stubbs is tremendous. And we need not worry about any political colours. At the end of day, we are all here to assist each other as best we can."

Mrs Edgecombe said that it is important we show love to our neighbours.

"I know Mrs Stubbs is happy to see her community coming forward to this extent to assist her, and the church has to also be commended for their drive in ensuring that this comes about. As MP for West Grand Bahama and Bimini, I am more than happy to be a part of this," she said.

She appealed to the public to lend a helping hand, whether it is purchasing of supplies, making a monetary contribution, or volunteering their time to assist in the rebuilding.

"We should be our brother's keeper, and, in the end, we will have a better community as a result," she said.

Pastor Paul Mullings, of Mt Calvary Baptist Church, said Mrs Stubbs is a member of the church who volunteers her time to cook meals for the needy in the Eight Mile Rock community.

He encouraged members of the church and the Zion Church families to support the effort.

Mrs Stubbs thanked everyone who has come forward to assist.

"I like to thank everyone for coming forward in my time of need, and I ask for your continued prayers," she said.

Obie Wilchcombe, former MP for West Grand Bahama and Bimini, said that he supports the effort.

Mr Wallace said the committee will also reach out to radio talk show host Darold Miller to make a national plea for donations in aid of Mrs Stubbs. He also noted that Mrs Stubbs is a descendant of the Turks and Caicos, and they are hoping that persons there will also extend their assistance to her.

There are plans to establish a bank account so that financial contributions can be made. In the meantime, persons can make cash and cheque contributions to the Mt Calvary Baptist Church in Seagrape.