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IT MATTERS TO MARIA: Unsung heroine takes in needy

MARIA BRADSHAW, [email protected]

IT MATTERS TO MARIA: Unsung heroine takes in needy

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“THE ROAD TO A FRIEND’S HOUSE is never long.”

Those words are on a photo which hangs prominently in Roslyn Thompson’s home and it is a motto that she lives by.

She has turned her modest home into a safe haven for the vulnerable, especially the elderly who find themselves homeless and living on the streets.

Some are her friends; others are complete strangers.

Thompson, who lives in Upper Carter’s Gap, Christ Church, admitted she had a “soft spot”, especially for “old people”.

“I can’t help it. If I see someone on the streets, I would ask them if they want a home. I can’t help everybody, but I try to help as many as I can, especially the old people,” she said.

At the moment she has three elderly people living with her, including a man who was highlighted by this newspaper last year. Two food vendors who sell from a van in Roebuck Street, The City, had complained about his unsanitary condition and the stench he was creating in the area.

“A friend of mine told me about this guy because she knows that I . . . take in people. She told me that he [was usually at] a bus shelter in Roebuck Street and that the two girls who sell food were complaining about how he smells and the NATION carried the story.

“I went looking for him but every time I went I didn’t see him. I was told that they moved him from near the two girls. Then on Christmas Day, I went by my father and when I left him, I was going to look for my mother and I see this man sitting down by the [National Housing Corporation] building. He was waving his hands and he had a lot of bags. I could see so many flies around him.

“I drove past for a long way and then I stopped and reversed. I went to him and I asked him if he needed somewhere to live and he said, ‘Yes’. I said, ‘If I take you by my home, you would go?’ And he said, ‘Yes’.”

That man turned out to be Don Colucci, whom the food vendors had complained about.

“He was in an awful state,” Thompson recalled. “He was filthy and covered in his own faeces and the flies were all over him.

“I took out my back seat and put him in the back of my car.
I took him to a house and cleaned him up, then I brought him to my home and he has been here since then,” said Thompson, as she compared the now cleaned-up Colucci to how he looked in the photograph carried in the newspaper.

Not only did she give the 66-year-old man a bedroom, she also installed a toilet and bath for him.

Sitting at the table eating breakfast, Colucci said he was grateful to Thompson for taking him in.

On May 31, Thompson received a telephone call from police at Worthing Station.

“They asked me if I knew a man named Tyrone Gittens.
I said, ‘Yes’. They told me that his son had put him out and he asked them to call me.”

She headed to the station and picked up the 72-year-old man and he too has been sheltering at her home.

Ninety-four-year-old Carmen Greenidge, who was also featured in this paper years ago after she was found living on the streets, is also a familiar guest.

“She does come and go whenever she pleases. I like her so much, I’m always telling her to come and spend the rest of her life with me,” Thompson chuckled, as she helped the elderly woman to get ready for one of her daily outings.

Apart from these three people, Thompson also looks after her father and a 91-year-old man.

Ironically, back in 2010, Thompson was also highlighted in this newspaper when she took in Nicolas Jordan, a Guyanese man who had been involved in a serious accident and had lost some of his memory.

She nursed him back to health and he is still with her today.

Although life can sometimes be difficult for this 50-year-old unemployed mother of three, Thompson said she made sure that all of the people she took in were properly cared for. She delights in seeing them happy and contented. However, she admitted that sometimes things could be overwhelming.

“I does have to clean up all the time, especially behind Mr Colucci, but I don’t mind,” she said.

She is appealing for assistance from the public in getting clothes and shoes for Colucci; a mattress with plastic covering; cleaning supplies, toiletries and foodstuff.

Thompson said she would continue to assist people who found themselves in unfortunate situations.

“I don’t have a lot, but whatever I can give them, I will give them,” she said. (MB)