Public Health Employee Heads Up a Relief Effort for Bahamas

DPH Executive Assistant Gremeko Stuart, fellow Freeport native Tia Evans and DPH Deputy Director Beth Lovette prepare a relief shipment to Grand Bahama. Photo courtesy of Gremeko Stuart.

DPH Executive Assistant Gremeko Stuart, fellow Freeport native Tia Evans and DPH Deputy Director Beth Lovette prepare a relief shipment to Grand Bahama. Photo courtesy of Gremeko Stuart.

Sept. 20, 2019 – After Hurricane Dorian devastated the Bahamas, Gremeko Stuart wanted to take action to help those in his native country.

Stuart, an executive assistant with DHHS’ Division of Public Health, is a native of Freeport, Grand Bahama. He moved to North Carolina in 1999 to attend St. Augustine’s University but the majority of his family, including his parents, still reside in the Bahamas.

Using WhatsApp, an application for texting and calling worldwide, Stuart was able to keep relatives updated on storm speed, size and other developments when their power went out. Many relatives needed to be evacuated and he was able to assist in coordinating this despite being far away.

When DPH leadership asked how they could assist his family, Stuart embraced the opportunity to launch a relief effort, asking DPH employees to contribute non-perishable food, baby supplies, health and hygiene items and clothing.

Over 70 large boxes of clothing and over 30 boxes of non-perishable items were collected from Sept. 6-18. 

food“North Carolina knows all too well of the destructive power of a hurricane and what it takes to come back from a storm as powerful as Hurricane Dorian,” said Mark Benton, Assistant Secretary for Public Health.  “Gremeko  has led a voluntary effort to gather and deliver food, clothing and supplies to the people of the Bahamas and in doing so he reminds us that in times of natural disaster our departmental values of being people-focused, working as a team and stewardship can and should reach beyond our state borders.”

In addition to asking for the support of his coworkers, Stuart collaborated with friends and family back in the Bahamas to arrange for contributions to be sent to Christ The King Episcopal Church, Bible Teachers Church, Agape Church, Calvary Temple Church and the Home for the Aged in the Bahamas. 

“I am continually grateful to those who contributed positive thoughts, concerns, words of encouragement, cards, prayers, smiles, best wishes in travel, hugs and whatever way or ways you may have given your support during this time,” said Stuart. “This initiative has also given me a greater sense and knowledge of the work of Public Health. I thank everyone for assisting with the effort and making the people of the Bahamas strong again”

On Sept. 20 Stuart and a friend will drive a 26-foot truck from Raleigh to Fort Lauderdale, Florida where he will board the Bahamas Fast Ferry to Grand Bahama. All items have been boxed and will be loaded on pallets and placed on the ferry. Upon completion of the delivery Stuart will take the ferry to Fort Lauderdale and fly back to Raleigh.

Author: Lindsay K. Saunders