Scores of residents are reacting with sadness to the death of a woman who reportedly dedicated most of her life to serving the less fortunate and the youth, especially those of the Gray’s Green community.
Wonetta Corbin-Smith, affectionately referred to as “Mama G” by beneficiaries of her reputed goodness, died at the Mount St John’s Medical Centre (MSJMC) on Saturday after losing a battle with stomach cancer.
The news was broken on social media shortly after 3pm on Saturday by many of the key individuals who were using the same medium to promote a Go Fund Me page and other fundraising appeals in support of Corbin-Smith’s recovery.
Family members and friends of the deceased were attempting to raise $20,000 to cover the cost of chemotherapy, Chemo radiation, second opinions and molecular testing from cancer research hospitals outside of Antigua, organic meal provision, alternative therapies, vitamins and supplements, and other miscellaneous treatment costs.
Among those expressing condolences to the family was Antiguan Soca Diva Claudette “CP” Peters who issued an emotional appeal earlier this month, for the woman she described as a sister who has supported her for many years.
“Wonitta Wonetta Corbin Smith Come backkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk”, was the first thing Peters posted, which indicated that the worst had happened.
For the entire day on Saturday, Peters used her personal Facebook page to share photos of her sister as she tried to come to grips with the reality of the news.
Joy Farrell, a representative from Dogs and Cats of Antigua, posted on Saturday: “I’m so crushed right now. The world has lost an amazing human being and our community has lost a treasure. RIP dear Wonetta Corbin Smith. You are loved dearly and you will be dearly missed. Condolences and love to your family and friends.”
Thousands of other residents also posted similar comments over the weekend.
OBSERVER media reached out to Corbin-Smith’s family who promised to speak to the media at a later date.
Corbin-Smith is reported to have dedicated most of her life to charity and the wellbeing of others, the family said, and in 2010 she was recognized by the First Caribbean International Bank as an Unsung Hero Finalist. The programme forms part of the bank’s efforts to recognize the work of people who have dedicated their talents and skills to make the world a better place.
Corbin-Smith’s work in the community was featured extensively in the 2010 citation provided by the financial institution.
According to the information which was shared by her daughter, Ikelle Corbin, Corbin-Smith commenced her outreach to the less fortunate in Gray’s Farm and neighboring communities, arising out of her genuine desire to help others. This included women (mainly single mothers) and children who were short on physical resources to meet their daily needs.
Her service soon expanded to benefit over 135 school children, approximately 172 teen mothers whose schooling had been interrupted, and over seventy 70 fire victims whose names she procured from the Fire Brigade every year. She also sheltered hundreds of abused women and children, including rape victims, by placing them in shelters that she financed.
The citation also pointed to Corbin-Smith’s efforts which led to infiltrating the local gang community.
“The gangs number forty-five (45). These gangs, except for four of them, have access to ‘Mama G’ and her efforts have led to the reform of over 200 gang members. Gang members range in age from 12 years to 24 years and come from all sectors of society – the elite, poor and middle class,” the document indicated.