Providing business services, utilities and investments are among the Grand Bahama Port Authority’s (GBPA) core responsibilities. But a healthy economy requires a skilled and capable workforce, and the GBPA embraces their mantra, “to better the lives of the Grand Bahama community and, by extension, The Bahamas”.
For over 20 years, the GBPA has assisted the Government of The Bahamas’ Ministry of Education by providing a classroom, nursery, skill centre and clinic facilities for the PACE Centre in Freeport. The PACE Centre supports pregnant high school students by providing opportunities to keep up their studies, learn parenting techniques and vocational skills, receive healthcare throughout their pregnancy, and infant and toddler care services to allow them to finish their education.
“PACE stands for Providing Access to Continued Education. There are so many important benefits for society as a whole when young women are educated,” said Sarah St. George, GBPA Acting Chairman. “It’s been proven that education provides confidence, better parenting ability, and an increased opportunity to contribute to society in a valuable way. As a woman, I am proud of supporting this program, which was started by my father Edward St. George along with Lady Henrietta, and which enables our young women to care for themselves and their children, while remaining in a structured educational environment.”
PACE is the only program on Grand Bahama where the Ministry of Social Services, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health work hand-in-hand to provide the necessary tools for young mothers to succeed in life.
Located next to the Grand Bahama Children’s Home in the ‘back of town’ Freeport, and provided and maintained by the GBPA, the PACE Centre was inundated with floodwater during Hurricane Dorian. Fortunately, there were no students or teachers at the Centre during the storm. In the weeks following, the GBPA contracted Mr. Godfrey Stuart of GNT Construction to repair the four buildings at a cost of over $300,000.
“The Port took down and replaced our walls, retiled our four buildings, replaced the bathrooms to make them accessible to all, painted the houses and repaired the roof damage,” said Ms. Rosemary Newbold, Principal of PACE. “Our programs support many young women who are impacted by the stigma of early pregnancy. We are grateful to the GBPA for enabling us to give them confidence, skills and education, and a safe place to raise their child.”
The GBPA’s commitment to the PACE Centre, Grand Bahama Children’s Home, Genesis Academy and Columbus House falls under the Port’s charitable donations of land, buildings, maintenance and continued insurance coverage. “PACE is self-sustained by the Ministry of Education for our day to day needs,” noted Ms. Newbold. “Now that we have walls and we have power, our goal is to reopen on October 5th. What we need now are desks, chairs, cribs, playpens and any baby items to replace those lost in the storm, and we are hoping the community can help us with these needs.”