7 August 2020
Despite the economic upheaval that the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown brought for many – including local business owners, the entrepreneurs in charge of Camana Bay’s shops, services and restaurants put their own problems aside to give back to the Cayman Islands community during a challenging time.
Multiple business owners in Camana Bay made sure to prioritise charitable giving during the shelter-in-place period, while also doing their best to help their employees and businesses adapt to the ever-changing situation.
Keeping the community fed
Sharron Eyers, owner of Le Visage boutique, turned Friday, 22 May into “Food Bank Friday,” donating 10% of all sales made that day to the Cayman Islands Food Bank.
“The Food Bank were doing so much good with their food deliveries to those in need, and we were looking to support a local charity during a time of need in our community, and wanted to make our own contribution,” Sharron explains.
Jessie’s Juice Bar also resonated with the Food Bank’s cause. Owners Jess and Lachie Hewitt participated in the Chow Down for Charity initiative that ran from 1 to 15 June. “We chose the Food Bank because it’s a great cause and something which really makes a difference at times like these,” Lachie says.
Digicel also supported the Cayman Islands Food Bank with a donation of 10 mobile phones with postpaid lines and data plans to use while coordinating their cross-island deliveries.
Camana Bay’s chefs also worked hard to keep those in need fed. Chef Thomas Tennant, co-owner of TomFoodery Kitchen + Bar, which is slated to open in Camana Bay this fall, collaborated with Feed Our Future to produce 50 meals for the non-profit organisation to deliver to children in the community. Abacus has joined forces with Cayman’s Acts of Random Kindness (ARK) to set up a soup kitchen and raise funds for the organisation, while Agua worked to produce 50 dinners every Friday for distribution throughout West Bay. Agua owner Walter Fajette was contacted by West Bay Central MLA Captain A. Eugene Ebanks to assist in providing the 500+ meals that were distributed throughout the area weekly.
“We saw an opportunity to help the community during those trying times,” says Walter. “We know that every effort counts so we were glad Agua could show support to those in need.”
“We want to highlight Agua and the other partners who provided these meals free of charge and eagerly offered their services,” says Junilee P. Brooks, personal assistant to Captain Ebanks. “We truly appreciate their selfless work to assist the cause.”
Looking after the next generation
Supporting the wellness and education of children is also a key priority for many Camana Bay businesses. VisionWear Cayman’s Gary Bernard shared that VisionWear’s doctors partner with Lions Club of Grand Cayman to give free vision screenings to children at Grand Cayman schools. “We have viewed this as our way of giving back to the community, as 60% of learning disabilities are associated with vision problems,” Gary said.
Books & Books donated gift certificates to graduating Year 6 students at John A. Cumber Primary School while Digicel provided the Red Cross with mobile service free of charge in order to facilitate mobile health and wellness checks for children and adolescents.
Caring for our four-legged friends
With a number of people returning to their home countries during lockdown (including Caymanians wishing to come home) and, of course, wanting to take their beloved pets home with them, a challenge arose. With changes in travel regulations, many countries restricted animal travel. Digicel sponsored the mobile needs for Noah’s Ark, which worked to repatriate animals, while Camana Bay’s Must Love Dogs stepped in to help with the logistics of what soon became a very complicated process.
“As the only IPATA agent in Cayman, it was easy for us to focus on how Must Love Dogs could contribute,” says owner Aimee McKie. “Our goal was to help the government bring Caymanians home and relocate families who needed to leave. We strongly believe that pets are family, too.”
Through connecting with international contacts, pet transport during a pandemic became a reality. “None of this could have been done without the involvement of the Cayman Islands Department of Agriculture (DOA), who worked tirelessly behind the scenes 24 hours a day,” Aimee says, adding that DOA workers issued permits, opened the clinic and consulted with other international governing bodies in order to comply with and keep track of ever-changing global policies. Aimee says they also worked with Nikole Poirier, an individual who worked to organise two private charter flights that have collectively flown more than 75 animals to and from the island since 22 March.
“With the temporary closure of businesses, our George Town location was isolated, thus Must Love Dogs was able to run the isolation programme that was fundamental in allowing Caymanians to return home with their pets,” Aimee adds. “Caymankind is an opportunity to pay it forward; we are grateful that we are able to be part of a solution.”
Continuing to give back
For many, the giving hasn’t stopped now that shelter-in-place has lifted and shops, services and restaurants have reopened, either.
Provenance Properties recently hosted an online auction of luxury home goods to raise funds for the nonprofit organisation, Cayman’s ARK. The auction, which took place on 23 July, raised over US$22,000, an amount which will be matched by R3 Cayman Foundation for a total amount raised of almost $45,000. R3 was established in May 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and is committed to the sustainable future of the Cayman Islands through assisting with readiness, relief and recovery in times of crisis.
The success of the auction can largely be attributed to the generosity of local business owners donating goods and services. Camana Bay’s also donated items for the auction.
”We were so impressed with the range of goods that were donated,” says Sheline Chandi, senior marketing coordinator at Dart, who helped organise the auction on behalf of Provenance Properties. “We had a fantastic turnout in both donations and bidders, which resulted in a meaningful and fun event for everyone.”
Blackbeard’s is continuing to match donations made during checkout at Blackbeard’s stores until the end of August. These donations are benefitting Meals on Wheels, and will be matched up to CI$5,000. The shop also donated hand sanitiser to the Cayman Islands Health Services Authority and donated food and soft drinks to ARK. There was a lesson behind this generosity, said Suzi Culbert, marketing manager for Blackbeard’s.
“I think COVID and lockdown was a prompt for us to stop and take stock of what matters,” Suzi says. “People matter. It was humbling to watch our community come together to support each other through this crisis and we were just fortunate that we could contribute and make a small difference.”
About the author
Anna Wootton is the Digital Marketing & PR Manager for Dart’s business development and real estate companies and assets, including Dart Real Estate, Provenance Properties, Cayman Alternative Investment Summit (CAIS), Camana Bay and The Residences at Seafire. Born in the Cayman Islands, with British heritage and a Canadian passport, Anna is multinational with a Caymankind heart. Anna has a background in journalism and a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from University of British Columbia. She has worked in Camana Bay for the past six years and can be found at an afternoon Ryde class or getting her paint on at 3 Girls & A Kiln.