Poultry farmer Graciann Walker-Powell, who sold bag juice in the streets when she was a child, is now head honcho of a group that feeds more than 300 people each Thursday in her hometown of Linstead, St. Catherine.
She is founder of the one-year-old feeding programme, which she has linked to the Linstead New Testament Church of God where she worships.
“We believe in coming out of the church to do this,” Walker-Powell told The Beacon. “Sometimes we don’t have hands to really feed the people; it brings joy to us because it is a part of our ministry.”
Walker-Powell noted that, so far, four beneficiaries of her feeding programme have become members of her church – including a former inmate, Warren Sullivan, who was fed while in custody at Linstead Police Station. Sullivan eventually won his case, showed up at Walker-Powell’s church, got baptized, and is now worshiping with Walker-Powell as his mentor.
Walker-Powell explained that she got a vision to start the feeding programme in March last year – the same month she got married.
“I was in my living room sitting down and I heard a voice said ‘Graciann, I need you to feed my people’. Knowing the mission that I am on as a christian, I ran with it.”
She added: “I care about people a lot and I think that’s really where the programme is coming from – based on how I was grown up… I have been through a lot; I didn’t get the chance to go to school the way a lot of persons do. From the age of nine, I used to be on the street selling bag juice.”
Walker-Powell further stated that, when she started the programme, she was feeding 45 people.
“Persons come on board and we moved from 45 to 60, and from 60 to 80, and from 80 to now we are feeding over 250 persons every Thursday; we have never faltered one Thursday,” she declared.
The programme, on Thursdays, does not only provide a variety of meals to some 200 people at Rose Duncan Park in the heart of Linstead. It also caters to an average 45 persons in custody at Linstead Police Station, 10 persons at the 3-D institution, some 30 patients at Linstead Public Hospital, and 25 children at Hope View.
The food bill each Thursday has reached about $30,000.
Walker-Powell gets support in cash or kind from her church, members of the Linstead community, and persons overseas – including Kimoshea Plunkett who sponsors the meals served every last Thursday of each month.
A group of people mainly from Walker-Powell’s place of worship assist with food preparation and distribution.
They are Jason Clarke, Nadine Morrison, Derrick Gayle, Karen Johnson, Marion Llanbell, Kimone Wakefield, Desren Jaichon, and Fredrika Smith.
Smith told The Beacon that, on the day the programme first hit the streets of Linstead, the group of volunteers ended up being soaked in the rain while searching for street people to feed.
“It is a joy to know that we prepare the food and the people are glad to partake of it,” Smith added in an interview shortly after food distribution on Thursday. Other members of the group shared similar sentiments.
In the meantime, Walker-Powell, a mother of four, said her dream is to eventually assist in providing a home for the street people of Linstead.
By Horace Mills, Journalist
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