Nation e-Edition

Women and children first

Women and children first Charlene Wilkin-Zephirin, community relations manager of the Paloma Charitable Trust. (Picture by Cheryl Harewood)

By Cheryl Harewood | Mon, February 04, 2013 - 12:00 AM

Theirs is not a household name, yet the huge financial contributions Paloma Charitable Trust makes to associations, organizations and charities across Barbados help to feed, clothe and assist when there appears to be no light at the end of the tunnel.

And this charitable trust has vowed to continue helping.

Established in 2007, Paloma Charitable Trust is a private Barbadian charitable foundation which began making donations to local charities five years ago.

The vision behind this charitable foundation is simply “to give back to Barbados”.

Governed by a board of trustees and managed by community relations manager Charlene Wilkin-Zephirin, Paloma Charitable Trust’s funding mandate focuses on assisting Barbadian charities that provide services in the areas of women’s and children’s education and health.

In fact, any registered charitable organization whose operations and objectives are consistent with the mission and focus of Paloma Charitable Trust is eligible to apply for donations.

During a recent interview with BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY, Wilkin-Zephirin explained that only registered charities could benefit by Paloma’s extended hand.

No political campaigns or charities with any religious affiliation or whose primary focus was advocacy stand to receive any assistance from Paloma.   

Throughout its years in operation, Paloma has donated to 42 local charities. Donated money has been used for counselling, scholarships, to improve buildings, purchase equipment (or other items related to the charity), and host seminars and summer camps.  

Exceptions have been made to allow the donation of money to Government-operated facilities such as Sayers Court Children’s Home, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital and the A C Graham Development Centre.

Although Paloma’s mandate specifies that financing must be given to registered charities, Wilkin-Zephirin explained that a yearly allowance was set aside to assist individuals, families or charities that did not fit the trust’s profile.  

To date, money from this fund has been donated to families who have lost their homes to fire, people who required medical attention overseas, individuals who found themselves in dire situations, and Government-operated schools.

Donations over the past five years have totalled in excess of $2 million. In 2012, donations surpassed $600 000.

According to Wilkin-Zephirin, “In 2012 there was a significant increase in requests for Paloma to help individuals and families. Many charities that received subventions from Government are now receiving less money than before or none at all.

“Those who are now applying for aid from Government may likely be rejected as many governments throughout the region and the world are struggling,” she explained.

“Paloma Charitable Trust has, however, increased its level of support to charities in 2012 despite the worldwide economic downturn.”

One of the many organizations to receive yearly help from Paloma Charitable Trust is The Hope Foundation. Founder Shelley Weir revealed that financial assistance from Paloma has allowed the foundation to carry out its mandate.

“Paloma’s assistance is greatly appreciated. From our inception we began to conduct an annual seminar for newly diagnosed cases of lupus. As a result, we are able to recognize the seriousness of lupus and keep track of this disease.

“Through our seminars we also keep patients informed of new treatments and impart coping mechanisms to them. Support from Paloma Charitable Trust has helped us tremendously to lend a helping hand.

“We have raised the awareness of lupus, made people more aware of its symptoms, and conduct the screening of babies.”

Paige Bryan of the YWCA Breakfast Club also credits Paloma and corporate Barbados for helping to sustain her association’s feeding programme.

“Paloma Charitable Trust came in and saved the day at a time when our account was very low. People do not realize or understand how much assistance is needed to run our programme.

“There has never been a time within the past five years that we’ve asked Paloma for assistance and they’ve said no. We hold to the view that international business companies (as is the case with Paloma), should give back to the community,” Bryan pointed out.

With assistance from Paloma, over 1 000 children are provided daily with breakfast at Deacon’s Community Centre, South District Methodist Church, Workman’s Primary School, YWCA headquarters and various schools across the island.

Another association to benefit from Paloma’s financial thrust is the SAVE Foundation.

Founder Liesel Daisley explained that Save Foundation had partnered with Paloma to offer counselling to victims of domestic abuse.

“Thanks to Paloma’s generosity, we have been able to counsel hundreds of women. Domestic violence affects lower-, middle- and upper-income families. Counselling people, providing legal advice, raising awareness and offering other tangible services are the key areas of our focus.

“We look forward to the continued support of Paloma so the work we have started can continue in an effort to bring about change and transformation in the lives of others.”

Wilkin-Zephirin believes that successful private and public corporations should follow Paloma’s example and give back to the community.

In fact, she challenged other offshore banks to “give back” by making sizeable donations to worthy charitable organizations across the island.

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