Friday, March 12, 2010

Forum For The Diaspora

Vincy lime with a purpose
By Nelson A. King
Published: Thursday, March 11, 2010 1:06 PM EST

After yearning, for some time, for a forum to seriously discuss ideas and make connections with myriad Vincentian service providers in the United States, a steering committee, under the umbrella, Vincy Lime, with a Purpose, was established Saturday, March at the Friends of Crown Heights Educational Center in Brooklyn.

The historic, networking event, organized by the New York Consulate General and the Friends of Crown Heights Educational Center, attracted close to 200 Vincentians.

Eleven nationals, including Ruby Wood, CEO of the Brooklyn-based Square Deal Shippers and Movers, and Maxwell Haywood, a community activist and United Nations Development Officer, volunteered to serve on the committee at the initial confab.

The vision of Vincy Lime is to have a forum where Vincentians, especially those newly arrived, could come together and assist each other in navigating through the intricacies of life in New York City. Vaughan Toney, the Lime architect, who is also president and CEO of Friends of Crown Heights Educational Center, told Caribbean Life in an exclusive interview.

"To be empowered, one must be informed," added the chief-of-staff for former New York City Councilman, Belizean the Rev. Lloyd Henry. "I know of many Vincentians who have made bad decisions, because they were uninformed or were given wrong information.

I simply want to provide a place where Vincentians can come together on a monthly basis to share information with each other," he continued.

As Vincentians we must be our brother's keeper, Toney said. It is also about nation-building. If we can come together andempower ourselves as a people in this great city, not only will it benefit the Vincentian community here in New York, but we will all be in a better position to assist our relatives and friends back home and, by extension, help in the development of SVG.

He said the group's goal is to eventually compile a directory of service providers and to encourage Vincentians to keep the money in the family by doing business with their compatriots.

Toney also said he is convinced that a monthly gathering of Vincentians, under this patriotic umbrella, can serve as a viable resource center in areas of education, employment, health care, housing, immigration, and social and political welfare, among others.

Cyril Thomas, the Deputy New York Consul, renowned by the calypso sobriquet Scorcher, said St. Vincent and the Grenadines will not advance without patriotic collaboration and participation.

As you know, nation-building is a collective action, he said. It's all well and good to point fingers when things go wrong for the deficiencies are many and conspicuous but finding solutions present much harder problems.

I am very encouraged by the patriotic outpouring that was so evident last Saturday, added Thomas, who has been acting Consul General since Cosmus Cozier retired last December.

The brothers and sisters, who sacrificed their presence, manifested a conscious understanding of the difficulties that Vincentians in the Diaspora face on a day-to-day basis. Quite a few of them made oral commitments to do whatever they can to alleviate conditions whenever and wherever possible,” he continued.

Thomas said his compatriots can accomplish this giant feat by being our national brothers and sisters‚ eyes and ears.

(If) you hear about something, say something, he urged. A well-grounded Vincentian in the Diaspora is a financial asset for St. Vincent and the Grenadines not just in the area of remittances, and tourism to and from SVG. Other facets of society will also be greatly affected in a positive way.

We ask all kind-hearted and altruistic Vincentians to step forward and show their national pride in this venture. Let our national slogan be Each one, Help one, Thomas underscored.

Lawyer Narissa Morris, who chaired the proceedings and is also chairperson of the Friends of Crown Heights Educational Center’s Advisory Board, said it is paramount to engage in nation-building.

She said when Vincentians help themselves at an individual level, they, simultaneously, help the homeland.

The next Vincy Lime takes place at the center, 671 Prospect Place, Brooklyn, on Sat., April 24, from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m.