When the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered businesses across the Cayman Islands, local non-profit organisations swiftly stepped in to ensure no one went without food, shelter or utilities.
While many in our community are now enjoying a renewed sense of normalcy, Cayman’s Acts of Random Kindness founder Tara Nielsen says the charity’s programmes are still in high demand. A donated office space at Regatta Office Park is helping the non-profit — better known as ARK — continue to deliver much-needed community services. Nielsen says the location, which is part of Dart's office space offering known as "readyspaces," has helped ARK streamline its operations to quickly deliver relief care packages to those most in need.
“Having this amazing office space has been transformative for ARK," Nielsen says. "It has enabled us to become highly efficient in the application process and in releasing the aid immediately. Due to the magnitude of current need, we are unable to manage 100% home visits. The office enables our team to have multiple consultations with applicants each day."
ARK’s relief care packages include vouchers for Foster’s supermarket, Caribbean Utilities Company and Water Authority - Cayman to help individuals and families keep food on the table and the utilities connected.
“The utility crisis is a major issue that has to be faced and it is an insurmountable debt to repay when you have been unemployed for months and remain unemployed," says Nielsen. "We see it and hear it every day in our consultations. Families are in crisis and lacking the most fundamental needs.”
In the course of delivering its emergency relief programmes, Nielsen says ARK volunteers are seeing new challenges emerge in the community.
“What we are experiencing through our home visits is a tremendous toll on mental health as a result of the stress of unemployment, not being able to provide for the family and the unknown factor of when employment/tourism will reignite,” she says.
Now that schools have resumed, the charity also continues to deliver its "Mentor Educate Reinforce" initiative. The programme, which connects disadvantaged students with advanced learning support, was the recipient of a CI$25,000 Dart Grant in 2019.
Dart Vice President Business Development and Leasing Kristy Rivers says the donation made perfect sense when ARK accepted a cheque on behalf of Provenance Properties Cayman Islands and the R3 Cayman Foundation and needed a space from which to maximise its impact in the community.
“After learning more about ARK’s emerging needs, Dart President Business Development Jackie Doak immediately offered an in-kind donation of office space,” Rivers says. “The Dart Commercial Leasing portfolio has a flexible range of product that can serve a wide variety of individual or organisational needs. We are committed to understanding and best serving our customers and readyspaces is perfect for ARK. We are proud to be able to offer ARK a place to centre its operations in the short term and continue our long standing relationship with ARK as a partner in community development.”
ARK joins a number of local businesses taking advantage of readyspaces, a flexible, turnkey office solution that offers the convenience of fully fit-out office spaces.
“We could not be more grateful to Dart for blessing ARK with this wonderful readyspaces office. We are reaching many more people in crisis as a result,” Nielsen says. “Dart has been phenomenal throughout this pandemic and has had a vast impact on the community in need.”
This article appears in print in the October 2020 edition of Camana Bay Times.