Participating in a tradition of care
The Bequia Mission was founded in 1970, and incorporated as a registered charity in 1981 by the late Reverend Ron Armstrong. An Anglican priest, Armstrong established the Mission as an extension of his ministry, providing social support to the Bequia and the neighbouring Windward Islands. After his death in 1994, June continued to lead the mission until her death in 1997. To say that both remain highly regarded on the island is an understatement. Though it’s been decades since they were active, they are very much remembered, and often in gushing, reverent terms.
The mission was conducted through the work of local volunteers as well as those from farther afield. After the Armstrongs, the mission was led by Gerry and Sandra Bird, Canadians with a deep personal connection to the island and its population. Under their leadership it grew to become a non‐ profit, non‐denominational charity dedicated to providing a range of social supports, including food aid, housing, medical aid and assistance, and access to education. As a member of the faculty of Lakefield College School, a prominent private school in Ontario, Gerry Bird hosted service trips, groups of Canadian students who travelled to Bequia to pitch in with the work of the mission and its programs. Despite being a smaller program, those trips signalled a new direction for the work of the mission, namely to provide local children with personal connections to the world beyond.
The Grenadines Initiative was launched in the spring of 2018 in order to extend the work of the Bequia Mission, renew engagement, and restate the vision that has lead the mission since it was founded. It is a non‐ profit, non‐denominational charity dedicated to providing social, educational, and medical assistance to individuals and charitable organizations in the small island nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), in the eastern Caribbean.
Thanks to the work of the local committee, many school children, elderly shut‐ ins, and people with chronic illnesses and disabilities are provided with regular hot meals, while others receive assistance to help with emergency medical needs, school fees, clothing, medications, and social support.
The Sunshine School grew out of a small school for deaf children. The library at Sunshine is named for the Bequia Mission’s founders, the Reverend Ron and June Armstrong.
Founded in 1963 by a Canadian Catholic Priest, St. Benedict’s has long provided a safe, caring home for underprivileged children and those with physical and developmental disabilities. We continue to support the work being done at St. Benedict’s through financial contributions and annual shipments of supplies.
The Learning Centre is an after school program run by volunteers. Many students attend the centre in order to gain a footing in the basics of literacy and numeracy. Some are hoping to improve their chances on the national matriculation exams and a shot at enrollment in one of the better schools on St. Vincent. It was founded by Ray and Dawn Goodwin, who continue to oversee the program.
Each year, the Initiative provides educational supplies to ten Bequia pre‐schools, primary, and secondary schools. In addition to a feeding program for disadvantaged youngsters, students are also sponsored to attend college in St. Vincent.
For well over thirty years the Bequia Mission has supported this home for the destitute elderly on St. Vincent. Lewis Punnett is also home to many mentally and physically challenged young people who cannot be cared for by their families.
We continue to make an annual financial contribution to the home and also ships medical and personal care supplies for each of the hundred or so residents.
The Initiative makes charitable donations of medical supplies to both the Bequia Hospital and Paget Farm Clinic, and provides assistance to individuals in need in times of medical emergencies.