New Board for Octavia Waight Center in San Ignacio Print E-mail
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Thursday, 15 August 2013 00:00

L-R Maria Elena Sylvestre, Marla Vasquez and Bernadette Fernandez and in the background Claudette Hulse, Chairlady of the Octavia Waight CenterA new Board of Directors has been elected for the Octavia Waight Center in San Ignacio. The new board was voted unanimously on August 10, 2013 at the Octavia Waight Center. Overseeing the voting process was Mrs. Maria Elena Sylvestre and Mrs. Marla Vasquez , both who are members of the Board at Helpage Belize.

The New Octavia Waight Center Board is composed of Claudette Hulse as Chairperson, Mirna Martinez as Vice Chairperson, Clemente Cruz as Secretary and Bernadette Fernandez as Treasurer. Other Board members at the Octavia Waight Center are Glory Burns, Carmita Lennan and Josephine Chulin.

The Octavia Waight Center currently provides residential care for 27 senior citizens. These citizens are given shelter, food, medical attention, physical therapy, companionship and other individual needs. The therapy center at the home is also open to accident and stroke victims from the community; to conduct physical therapy sessions.

Senior residents at the Octavia Waight Center are regularly taken out to breathe some fresh air at the Succotz River, the Bank of the Macal River, the Spanish Lookout Residential Home for the elderly and to Old Belize.

As part of an outreach to the community, the Octavia Waight Center had launched a “Meals on Wheels” Program for 22 residents outside the Center some five years ago and since then has been fulfilling the nutritional needs of these seniors twice a week.

Sitting neatly on her well secured chair in the open air verandah at the Octavia Waight Center last Saturday was 105 year old Camila Espinoza, who shared some of her secrets with us to a long life. According to Espinoza, Yams and Sweet Potatoes have always been part of her diet and her favorite drink was ‘trago anisado.’ Camila Espinoza also claimed that she never did imbibe alcoholic drinks and never ever smoked cigarettes.

What was surprising at last Saturday’s elections was that Bernadette Fernandez, who had been serving as Chairlady at the Octavia Waight Center for the past 12 years was stepping down from that position and was taking on the new post as Treasurer.

“It was a pleasure serving as Chairlady for the past years at the Octavia Waight Center and I wish to thank everybody who contribute to this home and who supported me during my years here as chairlady”, says Bernadette Fernandez, who has the portfolio for the elderly, within the San Ignacio and Santa Elena Town Council.

The Octavia Waight Center represents just one of the Centers for Senior Citizens that are represented by Helpage Belize in every District of the Country. Belize now has the National Council for the Aging, which comprises other organizations besides Helpage Belize; such as the Red Cross, the Black Cross Nurses and other organizations. From these organizations, Helpage Belize focuses solely on older persons across Belize.

While the core funding for these centers for senior citizens across the country come from the Government of Belize, assistance is welcome from other sectors of Society. In the Corozal Center for the Aged, the senior citizens have befriended a group of retirees from Canada and the United States. Such friendship has resulted in the senior citizens getting a transport van; where they take their arts and craft products on Saturdays’ to sell at the park in Corozal.

Mrs. Maria Elena Sylvestre, past President for Helpage Belize tells The Guardian that some current challenges remain for senior citizens across the country.

“The main challenge is to ensure that every older person has access to healthcare and to medications, that’s still a work in progress and each individual branch is working through their representatives and their leaders to make this a reality”, she says.

“The second major goal is to have a universal pension for older people, no matter who they are or what they are, they should have a decent living wage or a living pension, those are the two main universal goals that we are looking at and one of the themes of Helpage International globally is that age demands action”, she continued.