There was a lot of honor and respect in the room. It was an august crowd in November. Very impressive.
Thirty-two New Yorkers of Caribbean heritage were celebrated on Thursday evening for their contributions to the community at the 2015 Caribbean Life Impact Awards at the Paradise Catering Hall in Brooklyn.
Among them, 11 countries — Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, St. Lucia, Guyana, Barbados, St. Vincent and The Grenadines, Haiti, U.S. Virgin Islands, Dominican Republic, Grenada, and Bermuda were represented. And, even with and abundance of homeland pride, a strong feeling of one-being Caribbean–permeated. It was the Caribbean family.
There was a grandmother amongst the celebrants of family, friends, collaborators, and colleagues sharing in the love and acknowledgements. Council Members Mathieu Eugene, Jumaane Williams and Alan Maisel, and many civic and organization leaders joined in the recognitions.
Claudette Powell — recipient of a 2014 Caribbean Life Healthcare Award — deftly served as master of ceremonies.
She opened, “The individuals being honored represent the best and most influential of the Caribbean Diaspora. They come from a cross section of industries and backgrounds.”
The honorees — entrepreneurs, artists, civic activists and community advocates, religious leaders, teachers and mentors, motivational speakers and philanthropists — most wearing multiple hats, “have a universal theme — selflessness, determination and a passion to serve others.”
Continuing she said, “They touch the lives of all they come across. They triumph over adversity and they display a willingness to be a community’s support system.”
And, it is true that their stories are inspirational and also they are fiercely proud of their ties to their Caribbean heritage.
Like the Oscars, recipients got to make remarks thanking their family members, friends and support networks. Many thanked God.
Others accepted on behalf of the organizations they work with. Thomas Bailey encouraged people to get involved with the West Indian American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA), which is “more than the Caribbean Day parade.” Carl Stuart said, “If you haven’t tried Caribbean Airlines, you should.”
In awards that came full circle, awardee Karisma Jay of AbunDance Academy thanked her mentor Kwayera Archer-Cunningham, also an award recipient, who founded and led Ifetayo Cultural Arts Academy.
Occasionally there were added comments from the audience. Agnes Abraham of NYC Health and Hospital Corporation spoke about how much Terrence LaPierre contributes to Kings County Hospital.
Judy Newton brought a cheering squad of friends — cops, retired cops, and probation workers.
The last but not least to accept his award is the patriarch of Caribbean togetherness, friendship, business and networking. Recognized by many of the honorees, Dr. Roy Hastick founded the Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CACCI), 30 years ago.
“This is a very auspicious occasion,” he said. “The breaking news is that the Caribbean Trade Center is alive and well. Also, a young man of Guyanese descent, (honoree) Richard David one of the development specialists at the NYC Economic Development Corporation, which will help transform the site at Flatbush-Caton to include 166 affordable housing units, the Caribbean Trade Center, a museum and a rejuvenated market space.”
Dr. Hastick thanked the many members of CACCI in the room and asked the honorees to stand up for a final evening’s recognition.