The Crossroads Organisation (TCO) and The Shelter joined efforts on October 8 to host a silent art auction at the Art Society, Federation Park, Port-of-Spain and sold 80 per cent of the paintings that were on display. Patrons received a list of the art pieces to be purchased with a notation of their starting values and were able to write their bidding value below the last bid made. If willing to increase the bid, patrons signed their name and the amount they wished to offer for the photograph or artwork. All proceeds made were divided equally between The Shelter and the TCO to help fund the groups’ separate outreach programmes and initiatives.
The Shelter is a safe haven for women and children who suffer from domestic abuse. Services offered by the shelter include accommodation, counselling for victims, provision of food and clothing, legal and medical aid among other things. Asked to give some background information on the Shelter, Public Affairs Officer Liz Talma-Sankar said that the shelter was established in 1987 by a group of volunteers that included Diana Mahabir-Wyatt, Allyson Hennessy, Meiling, Camille Mouttet and Rosemarie Hezekiah.
Talma-Sankar said: “When we first opened, the government gave us a house and it started off with pieces of foam rolled up, a Styrotex box was the fridge and a two-burner stove.” She said the shelter had now come a long way, comfortably housing up to 26 people and offering shared bedrooms and communal bathrooms.
She said that though the shelter is grateful for the $90,000 subvention which it receives from the government each year, it was not enough to cover all their expenses so events like the auction are necessary. Chairman of the Crossroads Organisation, Sherron Hartford said though the organisation was officially registered in May of this year, the members have been working together for the past two to three years in an effort to help children.
Hartford said, “We recognised that we all had the same core purpose—to make a difference in the lives of children.” The silent art auction was one of a many initiatives carried out by the organisation to fund the Chi Chi Project—a project aimed at acquiring the necessary funding to purchase the equipment needed to launch a neonatal resuscitation programme (NRP) in the Port-of-Spain General Hospital.
The name given to the project is of particular significance to Hartford as Chi Chi was a nickname given to her daughter Rachael Wilson-Blanc who died of cancer at the age of 32. Hartford said when Rachael was diagnosed with cancer, the family was told that she could have mere months to live.
She lived for two years after her diagnosis and Hartford said that when people asked Rachael where she found the strength to carry on each day, she said, “When I get up on a morning, there are six little eyes looking at me.” Hartford explained that it was the love of her three small children that gave Rachael the strength to fight the illness.
This love of children, she said, is reflected in the mission of the Crossroads Organisation—to help children no matter what their need or crisis. Hartford said Dr Jennifer Delamore was willing to train the staff of the proposed NRP for free so that funding for equipment was all that was needed.
The organisation is accepting direct monetary donations and is organising raffles to raise funds. Some of the most memorable pieces were those with sentimental quality. One charcoal and pastel piece titled Mother & Child was done by artist Hilma Smith-Barnes and was noted for its symbolic quality.
Many of the pieces were painted for the exhibition and some were sent from Canada, Antigua, Honduras and other countries specifically for the auction. Representatives from the Shelter and TCO said that response to the auction was excellent although a few paintings remained unsold.