October 10, 2019
Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Frankie A. Campbell, walked away from a tour of the operation at Abilities Unlimited (AU) excited about the potential for greater future revenue earnings based on the craftsmanship on display -- once the facility is given the requisite support from members of the general public and others.
Minister Campbell toured the facility, located Dolphin Drive (Friday, October 4), accompanied by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development, Ms. Phedra Rahming, and Mrs. Lilian Quant-Forbes, Director, Department of Social Services. The Ministry provides an annual subvention to Abilities Unlimited.
Minister Campbell later “put his money where his mouth is” purchasing a number of ceramic items which he later presented to Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt. Hon. Baroness Patricia Scotland during a Courtesy Call and High-Level Dialogue on Monday (October 7).
“From my observation, the quality of the products, particularly the ceramics are first class,” Minister Campbell said. “They are able to create fantastic moulds of all kinds that are personal to the desires of their clientele which I found amazing. They also offer additional services such as furniture and ceramic repairs. I was also very impressed with their pricing which is excellent. I encourage members of the general public, private and public companies and corporations, and organizations seeking gift and/or souvenir items, in search to have furniture repair work done, to visit the location because they will be able to benefit from a first-class product that won’t break the bank.
“With the Christmas Season on the horizon, I urge members of the general public to visit the facility and place their Christmas orders. The other benefit is that they (staff at Abilities Unlimited) in turn, will be able to continue to benefit from the employment opportunities that are available to them through Abilities Unlimited that will provide these talented individuals with the opportunity to be able to maintain their right to enjoy the kind of independent living any other citizen of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, has the right to enjoy.”
Minister Campbell said he was “very much pleased with what I saw.”
“It is a true testament to what I always say which is that in the midst of someone’s disability, their abilities are unlimited. And that’s what makes the name of this place so apt – Abilities Unlimited,” Minister Campbell added.
Established in 1974 under the banner of The Bahamas Council for the Handicapped (led by Mr. David Smalley), the objective of Abilities Unlimited was the development of programmes to provide training to persons with disabilities “in order to mainstream them” where possible, to join the general workforce. Crafts were considered, among others, a necessary industry to support those persons.
Ceramics were selected as one of those crafts to give expression to creativity in the use of colours and glazes, and because the range of tasks is wide. Planters, vases, figurines, souvenir items, salt and pepper shakers, junkanoo cups, plates and saucers, among other items, are manufactured on site.
In addition, Abilities Unlimited provides a sheltered workshop in the Furniture Repair Department where training in independent living is encouraged. Activities such as stripping, sanding and painting are a major part of furniture repair. Refurbishing and replacement of straw material (caning) on dining chairs and tables as well as re-strapping of lounge chairs, patio furniture, repairs to bedroom furniture and general repairs “are a welcome work of art done by the employees.”
Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Frankie A. Campbell with employees of Abilities Unlimited following the Minister’s tour of the facility Friday (October 4, 2019). Thirteen persons are presently employed at the facility. Pictured (first left) is Ms. Curlene Burrows, Manager.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development, Ms. Phedra Rahming (right), and Director of the Department of Social Services, Mrs. Lilian Quant-Forbes, survey some of the items being prepared for “firing” in the Kiln Room.
Mr. Carl Seymour, who joined Abilities Unlimited in 1977 – three years after AU opened its doors in 1974 on Chesapeake Avenue -- works on the mould of a coffee mug in the ceramics workshop.
Minister Campbell “signs” good job to Mr. Sean Flowers, a carpenter in the Furniture Repair Department at Abilities Unlimited.
Minister Campbell receives a copy of the sales receipt from Ms. Jackie Pinder who oversees the ceramics workshop at Abilities Unlimited after making several purchases.
(BIS Photo/Matt Maura)