Sun | Nov 17, 2019

‘Our Moses, our hero, our star’ - Portland community hails humanitarian for push to improve lives

Published:Monday | October 21, 2019 | 12:08 AMGareth Davis Sr/Gleaner Writer
Seventy-nine-year-old Hazel Minott sitting oustide her new home in Ranch Hill, Portland. Inset: The dilapidated structure in which Hazel Minott lived before Everton Russell’s efforts to get her a new home.
Seventy-nine-year-old Hazel Minott sitting oustide her new home in Ranch Hill, Portland. Inset: The dilapidated structure in which Hazel Minott lived before Everton Russell’s efforts to get her a new home.

Ranch Hill, Portland:

With an eagerness to assist just about anyone in dire need in Ranch Hill, Everton Russell has become quite well known in his Portland community.

His latest campaign to improve lives came as no surprise to residents as Russell kick-started an initiative to get an elderly woman a new home.

Moved by the poor conditions under which 79-year-old Hazel Minott was living in a termite-infested house, Russell sought to make representation on her behalf.

“I first took the plight of the elderly woman to the late member of parliament (MP), Dr Lynvale Bloomfield, but was unsuccessful in getting any assistance,” he recalled.

“Shortly after, Damion Crawford assumed the role of caretaker, and after taking him on a tour to Ranch Hill to have a first-hand look at the poor state that the elderly woman was living in, he agreed to help. I was sent to a hardware store, where I picked up $70,000 worth of material, including board, zinc, nail, and a door, to begin the construction,” Russell recounted.

“But it was still not enough. Crawford lost the by-election to Ann-Marie Vaz, and as such, he was not able to fulfil his promise of completing the construction. It was then that I decided to seek assistance from the councillor for the area, Dexter Rowland, who immediately agreed to help. More material was provided and in short order, Hazel Minott was able to occupy a new house – her own home.”

Russell’s efforts have not gone unnoticed, and Ranch Hill residents are lauding him for such a spirited humanitarian effort on his part.

“It is not very often that we find an individual, especially in this day and age, volunteering his time and effort to assist a stranger,” community member Renford Egbert said. “And even when it seemed that it was not going to happen, he never gave up. His only wish and desire was to ensure that the elderly lady would be able to sleep and live in a much better house and a safer environment. He is our Moses, our hero and our star.”

The rickety, dilapidated house once occupied by Minott tells the painful story of her time in the termite-ravaged structure overrun by roaches, rats and centipedes. If that was not enough, she had to contend with a leaky roof.

But Russell’s project and goodwill effort still has some way to go. He is seeking assistance to construct a bathroom and a kitchen to add to the already-completed bedroom and verandah for the elderly woman.

“I want to ensure that she enjoys a life of comfort in her new home,” he said.

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