'Potluck' lends a helping hand
WHEN Stefan Hutson saw the genuine need of some people for food while he was an intern attached to Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) last year, he knew he had to do something, and something he did. He started a non-governmental organisation (NGO) named ‘Potluck’ with a group of volunteers and co-founder Navina Paul, who would do a weekly feeding programme and a monthly medical outreach.
Hutson told the Guyana Chronicle that when he was at GPHC, every Sunday they would prepare a meal of whatever he had and distribute to the needy and within minutes 15-20 boxes of food would be gone.
Now, the 27-year-old is a teacher at the University of Guyana (UG), and has even gained the support of students, who would pitch in from time to time to lend a helping hand in the feeding programme and medical outreach.
Dr. Hutson said all the cooking is usually done out of his apartment in Forshaw Street, Queenstown in which 25-30 volunteers assist him in a weekly feeding programme and their monthly medical outreach at the East La Penitence Night Shelter.
He related that he started the feeding programme last June and will continue in this stride however, he can.
Every week, on Sundays, Hutson said he would also distribute clothing, food and condoms to the less fortunate in the city.
He explained that they make do with whatever donations are given to the group (Potluck) and they also provide the necessary to cook a pot of cook-up rice and hand out to mostly the homeless and those in need of a hot meal.
Dr. Hutson said, “We plan to do this as long as we can and we are trying to embark on a youth empowerment programme since mostly youths are a part of the group.”
Apart from the feeding programme and the medical outreach, he noted that they also provide groceries to several single mothers on a monthly basis whenever they can.
Hutson is contending that they can be able to do more in the near future but as is they are using what they have to enhance the lives of others in a tangible way.
This enterprising young man is passionate about assisting others and hopes to get more support for his organisation Potluck in an effort to continue to feed the needy. Hutson said Potluck is a non-profit organisation which endeavoured to help vulnerable groups in Guyana, which includes homeless persons, single parent families and young people.
He noted that they had recognised that some of the major problems faced by homeless persons and some of the other vulnerable groups are: access to food, health services – including aid for drug addiction and mental health issues, the need for clothing and basic hygiene products and ultimately the need for education/skills training and job placement which are crucial for reintegration into functional society.
Dr. Hutson told the Guyana Chronicle that the challenge of homelessness and all of its causes and exacerbating factors is a complex problem that can only be solved with the input of multiple stakeholders, including the homeless population itself.
He said, “We are always eager to engage with others and accept help in whatever forms are available with hopes of being a conduit for help to this marginalised population.”
The literal meaning of potluck is “whatever happens to be available especially when offered to an unexpected guest or when brought by guests and shared by all”.
Potluck’s goal is to bring together highly talented individuals who can collectively brainstorm these issues and come up with effective and sustainable ideas to tackle them. The group believes that everyone has some skill or talent that he or she can bring to the table to make better, the lives of others.
Potluck seeks to provide meals, clothing, hygiene items, medical services and products to persons who are less fortunate and homeless in Guyana.
The medical services they provide are meant to complement the work of existing health providers in the country, with current and future referral systems in place for complex problems, including drug abuse and mental illness.
Potluck also provides training for the development of skills and empowerment opportunities for vulnerable groups, including youth, in hopes of addressing poverty at one of its primary roots – civic engagement, access to education and skills training.
Article adapted from: http://guyanachronicle.com/2018/06/24/potluck-lends-a-helping-hand
- The University of Guyana