As Miss Bahamas Universe 2021 Chantel O’Brian’s reign came to a close, Atlantis stepped up in a big way to assist the beauty queen with her effort to attain home security, in the wake of the fact that O’Brian had struggled financially during the pandemic and briefly was left homeless.
Atlantis presented O’Brian with the necessary funds for a down payment on a home, during the finale of the 2022 MBU pageant that saw O’Brian crown her successor.
Atlantis had offered the beauty, the first Bahamian to finish top 10 at the Miss Universe pageant, a stay at the resort upon her return home, but during discussions, the idea blossomed into a tangible long-term gift. The money that would have been put toward a stay at the resort was then earmarked towards a down payment for a home for O’Brian.
‘This was something that Atlantis had wanted to do since my arrival back from Miss Universe [held in Eilat, Israel, in December 2021] after hearing my story. Fanning out the particulars from apartment to home created a hold for them but I am so happy that they, until the finality of my reign, kept me close to heart to express such a beautiful gesture. I believe that any entity or person who decides to do something that they ultimately do not have to do, demonstrates a great deal of sincerity and kindness. I am grateful to Atlantis and to Ms. Viana Gardiner who made the presentation.”
Gardiner, Atlantis vice president of public affairs and special projects said Atlantis was honored to stand with O’Brian, and to donate to further her home security.
“Miss Bahamas [Universe] 2021 Chantel O’Brian has an indomitable spirit. She has skillfully used the platform provided to her locally and internationally to bring attention to a critical issue that many people face – that of homelessness. Atlantis is honored to stand with her, and to donate to further Chantel’s own home security, in hope that she continues to use her voice to better the lives of people.”
O’Brian’s stint with homelessness came to light as she represented The Bahamas on the world stage. She shared her journey because she wanted people to know that the “ride” isn’t always smooth. And was evidenced in the fact that in the height of the pandemic, she and her mom, Florence Jean-Pierre O’Brian, were briefly homeless.
“It was difficult to fathom and humiliating really to find myself in such a hopeless situation,” O’Brian has said.
What she learned from the experience she said was that it is important to lean on your community and to hope, pray and dream even harder. She has said that sometimes the only thing that can motivate is who a person can become if they don’t stop believing that in the end, the challenges will all be worth it. It was a message that she imparted to young people throughout her reign.
“Sharing your story can be intimidating but one thing that I’ve learned, especially in this age of social media, is that your story matters,” said O’Brian. “Many people see the highlights but never the true emotions in the process. Because of that, telling my story at Miss Universe considering its platform was a reminder to the past me, as well as to other young women especially, to not compromise their integrity and to have a community that they can count on.”
Her community, O’Brian said, was in her long-time friend, Paula Hilaire and the Hilaire family, who she said upon learning about the tough time in their lives took it upon themselves to “do life with us all the way”.
“Being evicted is never easy, but who could’ve imagined a pandemic, especially when you decide to focus on entrepreneurship [she is the proprietor of P.S. O’Brian Consulting] and bet on your talents and gifts. I gained many things on this journey, including an example of leadership through our [wife of the Prime Minister] Ann Marie Davis, who met me with a great delegation at the airport when I returned.”
O’Brian credits Davis with helping to champion the cause.
With enough funds for a down payment on a home, O’Brian said she has not yet identified what her next steps will be, but she said her mom is excited while she finds herself nervous.
“I always hear the stories about what to do/not do when considering a home, so I’m using this time to embrace guidance to ensure a smooth transition.”
O’Brian said her mother has always impressed upon her the power of ownership and said that it is what has kept her grounded in being a first-generation graduate, business owner and a soon-to-be homeowner.
“We both understand what it means to have very little, so we do not take any of these blessings for granted,” she said.
The pageant, runway and etiquette coach used her gifts as an avenue to inspire and motivate and empower women to embrace who they are and know that perfection does not exist.
During O’Brian’s reign, her platform perfection is a myth, was a framework and a design for young people to know that their journeys will be tough sometimes, and bridges will be placed in front of them which they will have to cross, but to know that they can overcome anything they set their mind to.