San Pedro Town will soon see the establishment of a children’s home. The project is a joint effort between the San Pedro Lions Club and the non-profit organization Raise Me Up, as they transition the old Lions Clinic building located on Lions Street across from Maya Island Air, into an environment full of encouragement and opportunities for our children in need.
The building, which had been rented out to private businesses for several years, was the site of the first clinic on the island. The clinic was officially opened in 1978, after a construction process of two years. The health center’s construction was man- powered and financed entirely by members of the local Lions Club. When the clinic was opened to the public under the presidency of Betito Marin, it provided care to everyone regardless of their financial status.
On busy days, the clinic also served as residence for doctors and nurses who would travel from the mainland to the island. They worked along with San Pedro’s first resident doctor, Dr. Otto Rodriguez who was a very active Lion member and advocated for the construction of the present polyclinic which bears his name.
According to an active member of the Lions Club, they are very excited for this upcoming project and for the partnership they will share with Raise Me Up. Raise Me Up is no stranger to the community. They operate the San Pedro Food Bank, the Adopt-A-Bear Program, the Literacy Program at the Holy Cross Anglican Primary School, the Haunted House annual fundraiser, and the lighted Boat Parade. The organization was also very active in the reconstruction of 52 homes in the San Mateo Area after Hurricane Earl.
The idea of a Children’s Shelter, according to a key member of the project came about after encountering very sensitive cases on the island that required foster services. A particular case of a family who could no longer take care for one of their younger members saw the urgency for a project of this kind. The family had been assisted by the food bank for months, and according to the Lion representative, the children had been on their own after their parents left. The older sister took care of her two younger siblings, plus her own baby, but found it difficult to continue maintaining her 12-year- old sister.
In an effort to keep the family together, the Lions Club and Raise Me Up tried to find a foster home on the island with no luck. The only option was to send the youth to a crowded children’s shelter on the mainland. It was clear to both organizations that with the dire financial situation of this family and other families on the island, it would be difficult for them to visit their loved ones on the mainland. “This is what started it. Even if the family cannot take care of them, they should still not be split up and sent off to the mainland alone,” said the Lion representative. It is known that most of the shelters on the mainland are overcrowded. According to information gathered by the Lions Club, one of these children’s home is about 30 children over their capacity. “There is simply nowhere for them to go, and we want to change that.”
Upon completion of the Children’s Shelter in San Pedro, it will care for up to 36 children on the second floor of the building. Meanwhile, the lower level will host the dining and recreational room. The second floor will also serve for counseling, and members of the SHINE program will also utilize this portion of the building for their respective activities.
At the facility, children will be provided with therapy, food, clothing, tutoring, empowerment, and most importantly, proper care and love. Based on the evaluations being made by both organizations, most of the children that will be assisted have been neglected, or abused, while some of them have lost their parents, or siblings, and simply cannot take care of themselves. Other cases will require temporary residence at the shelter for children whose parents are incarcerated. However, it was made clear by the representatives of the Lions Club and Raise Me Up, that it will be up to the Department of Human Services to decide which children will be placed under their care.
In the meantime, both organizations would to thank the assistance they have received from sponsors towards the cause. However, they are still welcoming more volunteers and assistance from friends and the business community in order to start the works and accomplish this project. Anyone interested in volunteering or donating can contact 607-1765 or 630-1241