Charitable Vincentian on mission to aid homeland

Robert McBarnett.
Photo by Nelson A. King

A Bronx-based Vincentian man says he is on a mission to aid his homeland by giving back at all costs – medically, educationally and otherwise – for the rest of his life.

Robert McBarnett, 53, a Spiritual Baptist, originally from Dickson Village, Georgetown in North Central Windward constituency in St. Vincent and the Grenadines – who has been furnishing medical, educational and personal supplies to several medical clinics and hospitals and ordinary nationals in his homeland – said he will continue doing so until God draws his last breath.

“I see myself doing this for the rest of my life,” McBarnett, who has been working as an aide in the Environmental Service Department at Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn since 1994, told Caribbean Life in an exclusive interview.

“I believe we’re all called to serve, and that’s what we’re trying to do,” added McBarnett, who, with his wife, Sharon, and his compatriot Joan Moore, a registered nurse who lives in Queens, recently formed the St. Matthias Charities, Inc., named after the St. Matthias Baptist Church in Dickson Village that was founded by McBarnett’s late grandfather, Archbishop Percival Dick.

“For instance, we’ll like to touch on all different sectors – medically, educationally and so on,” said the president of St. Matthias Charities, Inc., disclosing that his small church group also plans to establish shortly a scholarship fund for underprivileged children in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

McBarnett, who migrated to New York in 1980, said his fervent interest, in helping his native land, intensified three years ago after participating in a crusade at home with members of the St. Jude Baptist Church on Bristol Street in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn.

He said the team, at the time, conducted worship services at the Market Square and Sion Hill in Kingstown, the Vincentian capital, and Dickson, and distributed food items to less fortunate communities.

“After we did that – that same year – I donated a wheel chair to Georgetown Hospital; and, when I came back (returned to New York), I wanted to do more,” McBarnett said.

Last April, he and his wife – with support from well-wishers, such as New York merchant Ronald Chase, who furnishes clothes, shoes and other supplies, and US$10,000.00 out of the couple’s pockets – shipped a container of supplies home with the Brooklyn-based Square Deal Shippers and Movers.

McBarnett said the supplies – including clothes, books, foodstuff, blood pressure and diabetic monitors with testing strips, walkers, crutches, canes and pampers – were distributed to residents in Overland (North Windward), Stubbs (South Windward) and Dickson.

The Spiritual Baptist said he returned home last month to distribute a larger shipment of supplies – a 40-ft. long container shipped again by Square Deal Shippers and Movers – which comprised medical supplies and equipment for the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital (MCMH) in Kingstown, such as x-ray view box; duplicator and film bin; and a US$100,000 endoscopy/colonoscopy machine, donated by Dr. Vijay Arya, a physician at Wycoff Heights Medical Center, and his foundation.

In addition, McBarnett said, among others, wheel chairs, crutches, canes, commodes, bath chairs, pampers, food supplies and clothes were distributed to residents of Fancy, Owia, Overland and Sandy Bay in North Windward; Dickson; Stubbs; Union Island in the Southern Grenadines; Barrouallie and Buccament Bay in Central Leeward; and Vermont and Pembroke in South Leeward.

He said the group plans to make good on its pledge to “take care of” North Leeward and the Grenadines, including the Chateaubelair Hospital, during its next visit either later this year or early next year.

McBarnett said the group is now planning a fundraiser for June 22 at the Friends of Crown Heights Educational Center in Brooklyn.Funds raised at that event will go towards, among other things, the purchase of a bronchoscope for the MCMH, which is expected to cost over US$10,000. [A bronchoscope is a device used to see the inside of the airways and lungs. Bronchoscopy is a test to view the airways and diagnose lung disease. It may also be used during the treatment of some lung conditions].

MCMH physician Dr. Lennox Adams is the group’s local medical contact.

“People are really enthused about what we do,” McBarnett said. “People say ‘thank you’ for what we’re doing for St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

“We will like to thank all the folks who supported us and continue to support us, like co-workers, fellow West Indians, Vincentians, Square Deal Shippers and Movers, Mr. Chase, and Dr. Arya and his foundation,” he added. “This wouldn’t be possible without everyone on board.

“This is something I always wanted to do – to give back to the less fortunate in St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” continued McBarnett, disclosing that the group also plans to extend its service to Grenada “in the not too distant future.”

More from Around NYC