Dean McNally will not be among the more than 100 Jamaicans who will be invested with national honours and awards tomorrow, National Heroes Day. But to paraphrase a line from Chronixx’s popular song Legend, even if his good deeds go unnoticed, the few who have received the charity of this week’s subject for Everyday Heroes will have remembered his name.
McNally, a bank clerk by profession and a Samaritan at heart, has for the past 20 years been providing home-cooked Sunday meals for people who live on the Clock Tower Plaza in Half-Way-Tree. McNally shared with the Jamaica Observer one Sunday earlier this month, as he did the rounds distributing boxes of Sunday dinner, that this was where he discovered his calling to help others.
“I know them from in the streets. I work with Jamaica National, but mi interact pon di road and mi get fi know di people dem,” McNally explained.
Parked at his regular spot on the plaza, McNally had already started delivering the meals from his red Toyota pick up truck to a handful of men, most of whom were understandably suspicious of a reporter and photographer, when the Sunday Observer caught up with him. But testament to his rapport with these men, McNally managed to quell the agitation of one man who was understandably unwilling to receive his meal in the presence of a camera.
“I used to go to Clock Tower on a regular basis to socialise, play domino and ludo, and watch sports. So like on Fridays I would buy a bottle of rum and a two-litre soda and just socialise with them, some of the unfortunate people. And that was where I saw some people in need. Some people who used to live on the plaza. There was an open lot there where people used to put up cardboard house and live, so it was from there I start providing meals for them”, McNally explained.
“Nally,” as he is called on the streets, does his charity work solo, and described his weekly Sunday morning routine of cooking six to eight meals for his friends on the street.
“On a regular Sunday I get up and I go straight in the kitchen. I just get up and cook, then share out and touch di road. I cook for my family and about six or eight more persons. I keep it minimal, but sometimes persons drop out if they can provide [for] themselves,” McNally stated.
Aside from providing cooked meals, McNally also assists in other ways, conducting transactions and doing other errands for those most in need of help.
One of McNally’s friends who lives on the plaza shared that he has known McNally for the many years he has been there. A regular domino and ludo player at Clock Tower Plaza, Burchell Moncrieff willingly expressed his gratitude for McNally’s assistance.
“His father was a preacher, you know. I know him from a long time. I live in Manchester but I don’t really go home. I sleep right on di plaza here. That’s how I know him. I feel good to know that somebody cares about me that much; nuh have to beg anyone anything. And when I get my pension every fortnight, I put it in a fix deposit and is Nally fix it for me,” Moncrieff said.
McNally shared that his friend also visits him at work during the week for breakfast.
“I don’t do breakfast, but sometime I carry breakfast and him come by and I share it with him, or I buy two breakfast and give him one, or mi buy one and share it. Sometime him forget is Saturday and go to my office,” McNally laughed.
On his last stop for the day in Dunkirk, Central Kingston, where he also delivers cooked meals, McNally explained that having transported one of the men who had become paralysed, from Clock Tower to his home in the Central Kingston community, he discovered another handful of people who were in need of assistance.
“I had to transport one of the men from Clock Tower to where he is presently. He is bed-ridden now. Every month his sister who lives abroad sends money for him and I have to collect it for him. And if him need anything like toiletries, I’ll buy it for him and take the money to him to pay his rent,” McNally explained.
“Coming down here now, I get to meet other people and I start to assist other persons down here. And then I hang out down here and play some ludo,” McNally said.
A husband and father, McNally explained that he grew up with a minister of religion father who dedicated his life to serving others.
“Well, is how mi grow up. My father is a reverend and him always looking after people. So that’s just in me. I get it from my father,” McNally said, adding that his father would “go to different places and do a lot of outreach work.
“My father does a lot for people, sometimes leaving out himself. But, according to his Christianity, he will get his reward in Heaven. That’s basically him. But I’m not a Christian; I just do it out of love fi people,” McNally said.
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