When Captain Karen Haughton, administrator at the Salvation Army’s Nest Children’s Home in St Andrew checked her email on a Tuesday afternoon at the end of September, her eyes lit up. The prayerful woman, known as ‘Grandma’ by the children at the home, was overcome with relief and gratitude. She summoned her husband, Captain Keith Haughton, fellow administrator at the Home, to tell him the good news she had just read.
“We couldn’t believe it! We are just so thankful to have received that email. It made all the difference and really warmed our hearts,” said Captain Karen, recounting the moment. The email she received was from the VM Group to whom the couple had reached out just days earlier with an urgent plea.
“We had completely run out of snacks for the children at the home. They would, of course, still have their usual three meals every day, but our supply of snacks that they take with them to school in the days had finished. We never want these beautiful children to ever feel like they are less than anyone, or to feel deprived in any way, so this was really disheartening for us. We reached out to VM to see if they would maybe help us to get to the end of September or even October. We were so grateful that they responded immediately with a pledge to fund the supply of snacks for the children to the end of the year. We were overwhelmed!” said Captain Karen.
VM Group has since informed the administrators of its intention to fund the full-year supply of snacks at the home in 2023, and will also work with the home to provide the children with age-appropriate financial education to help prepare them for the future.
Captain Keith was all smiles. “VM Group has lifted our spirits here at the home. The children call me ‘Uncle’ and my wife ‘Grandma’. We try our best to help them to have a happy childhood. These snacks are part of ensuring they have a normal life. When they are well fed and happy, we don’t have to worry about any behavioural problems, so we try to do as much for them as possible. I am really thankful. My heart is moved by what the VM Group did for us,” he said.
Captain Karen got emotional as she spoke about the children in her care.
“I tell them all the time that they shouldn’t ever feel less than anyone else. We are their family. We live in a home together like any other family. When we go out, I make sure that they look good so that nobody can look at them in any negative way and say, ‘that child is from a home’. They should always hold their heads high and be proud of who they are. Having snacks to take to school ensures that they don’t get hungry or feel deprived when they are around other children. They are God’s children and must always be made to feel that way.”
She recalled the children’s reaction the day she brought home the first box of snacks she purchased with the donation.
“I remember the evening I came, I deliberately waited until the children came from school to take them out of the vehicle. Two of them helped me to take them in, and one little girl was just looking at me and smiling. I told her it was as a result of a sponsor and asked if she liked what she was seeing and she said ‘yes’. All of us are extremely thankful and the children are still enjoying the snacks to this day,” she said.
Clover Moore, Assistant Vice President for Group Corporate Affairs and Communications at VM, said there was no hesitation when the home reached out for help.
“The work being done at Nest is helping to transform the lives of these beautiful children who have faced some tough challenges in their young lives. VM is in the business of transforming lives and has been standing with the people of Jamaica for 144 years. The administrators have expressed thanks to VM, but the truth is, we thank them for the amazing work they are doing to care for these children. VM looks forward to working with Nest in the coming year. Together we will ensure these children are empowered to achieve their dreams.”