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She may not be ‘Santa Claus’ or ‘Mrs. Claus’ but for some, Simona Broomes, is a God sent child, who not only spreads cheer at Christmas, through acts of good will, but all year round.
“I know of Ms. Broomes from reading about her but, God sent her to me just in time. She’s God sent. She shows up not just with money and food, but pure love in her heart,”Yvonne Coats told the Village Voice Newspaper during an interview.
Coats, an 85-year-old pensioner, who lives in Agricola on the East Bank of Demerara, said though she came to know of the former Minister of Government through the news, it was in 2020 that they first met. “Just like that, I was walking out my street, and she saw me, and stopped. She told me that she was helping the elderly in the area, and she would like to help me, I immediately agreed,” Coats recalled. The very next day, Broomes took Coats shopping for essential items, and ever since, has periodically shown up to offer support, particularly, in the lead up to Mother’s Day and at Christmas time.
“I don’t have a daughter and she acts like a daughter to me. On Mother’s Day, she would come and help me, and bring me stuff, and just by doing that she makes my day,” the elderly woman said.
This Season, the situation is no different. Days ahead of Christmas, Broomes was sure to take Coats shopping. “I had one son but he’s dead, and I have a niece but I live alone and I am thankful for the support a million times because it’s only old age pension I am getting; NIS, I am not getting it but Ms Broomes came in just when I needed her, and I am thankful for this opportunity to have enough at Christmas,” Coates said.
The elderly woman said she has nothing in her heart but love for Broomes, and will be forever thankful for the love and support received. “When we first met, I was quite surprise, because no one has ever been this generous to me, and she surprises me every time with her generosity,” the 85-year-old woman told this newspaper, adding, “I pray that God continue to bless her, so she can continue to be a blessing to others.”
In Linden, Patricia Leacock tells a similar story. Leacock told the Village Voice Newspaper that in and out of Government, Broomes has been supportive to the people of Victory Valley, Wismar, Linden. “She would bring food hampers, things for the kids; she never stopped,” Leacock said.
Less than a week before Christmas, Broomes visited Victory Valley and distributed food vouchers valued $10,000, clothing and food supplies among other things to those in need. Leacock said the donations were timely. “The $10,000 helped a lot because the next day we could have gone to the supermarket,” she said while noting that those who benefited were happy to have received the voucher at a time when there has been a significant rise in food and other essential items.
Broomes, in an interview with the Village Voice Newspaper, said that her acts of kindness are done through ‘The Broomes Foundation’ – a non-governmental organisation that seeks to help the poor and vulnerable through a number of charitable ventures.
It was noted that while the foundation works throughout the year to provide support to those in need, this Christmas it executed four projects targeting widows, widowers, persons without children, single parents, young men, and families in desperate need of help.
“This year, we looked at the true widows, particularly those who have no children, and who depend on a pension,” Broomes explained.
Under this initiative, four elderly women, Coats included, and two men were taken shopping by members of the Broomes Foundation. Each person, benefited from food and other essential items totaling $35,000 each.
‘From our Home to your Home’ was another initiative executed by the Broomes Foundation, Broomes added.
Under this initiative, more than 50 families from across Georgetown, Linden and Bartica among other areas, received food vouchers valued $10,000 to shop at Bounty Supermarket or other local supermarkets within their towns. “We looked at hard working families,” Broomes said while noting that majority of the families got two vouchers each.
The foundation, through its members, friends and associates, provided young men in at-risk communities with new clothing for the holiday season. Additionally, the foundation purchased a number of black cakes from young entrepreneurs and distributed them to families in need.
“We did give out toys but not in the volume that we did in previous years, however, we distributed a lot of indoor games due to the COVID pandemic,” she posited.
Broomes said the organization has been strategic in its approach, and as such, the projects were developed based on needs assessments done. She was keen on noting that the programmes are not limited to Georgetown but reach people in the various regions. It was noted that the foundation, at times, partners with other groups and individuals to fulfill its objectives.
Broomes, who served as a Minister of Government from 2015-2020, was recognized by the US in 2013 as a TIP Hero.