Grenadians hold Appreciation Party for community stalwart Cecily Mason

Grenadian community stalwart, Cecily Mason addresses the reception.
Grenadian community stalwart, Cecily Mason addresses the reception.
Photo by Nelson A. King

Over 150 friends and family gathered on May 26 at the Universal Palace Hall in Canarsie, Brooklyn to show their appreciation to Grenadian community stalwart Cecily Mason.

Mason, the long-standing president and founder of the Brooklyn-based Grenadian-American Ex Teachers’ Association, is described as “a great matriarch of community service.”

According to Ketura Brizan, secretary of the Grenadian-American Ex Teachers’Association and Mason’s niece, the hall was “pleasantly decorated” by Lyndonna Spencer, “with large vanilla white bouquets and gold streamers, set the stage for an enjoyable evening of sincere appreciation, great food, lively music and energetic dancing.”

The Mistress of Ceremonies Stephanie Gabriel kicked off the ceremony with a warm welcome, then invited guests to pay tributes to Mason, who started off her career as a teacher and public servant.

“Many of the attendees sang praises for her selflessness and her quiet determination to develop young people,” Brizan said. “Some of the attendees recalled the free private tutoring she offered at her home on weekends to prepare them for the difficult and competitive Secondary School exams.

“Others reminisced on how tirelessly she worked to not only nurture the minds (and bodies) of the children from the island’s rural villages, going above and beyond her role as a teacher to ensure that the kids received nutritious meals, so that they could perform at their highest potential,” she added.

Brizan said Mason “exemplifies genuine community service and fosters a sense of community in the Canarsie neighborhood that she has called home for several decades.”

Cecily Mason dances with Dr. Albert Duncan.
Cecily Mason dances with Dr. Albert Duncan. Photo by Nelson A. King

As a community servant, Brizan said her aunt “works to form networks, and collaborate with organizations and people who share her goals and vision.

“Ms. Mason is always looking for talent, and willing to help her Grenadian and Caribbean neighbors to succeed in their careers,” she said.

In his tribute, Jude Cruickshank, one of the leading Grenadian DJs in Brooklyn, credited Mason with helping him build his career by using her network to ensure that he received regular DJ jobs.

Brizan said this praise was repeated by several other attendees.

For example, Dr. Albert Duncan, a past president and member of the association for over 25 years, said Mason “exemplifies a character of determination, dedication and doing whatever it takes to achieve her goals in community service.

“Her general deportment is one of class and elegance,” added Dr. Duncan, a professor in economics at Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC). “Ms. Mason’s life is one of tremendous achievement.”

Always one who strives to develop young minds, Brizan said Mason formed the Grenadian American Ex-Teachers’ Association in 1990, and has organized and hosted 27 Miss Grenada-USA pageants over the years, as well as the first-ever Ms. Caribbean Women’s 50 & Over Pageant in 2022.

“These pageants aim to foster confidence, public speaking skills and good moral character among Grenadian and Caribbean women,” Brizan said.

Mason told Caribbean Life that the “inspiring force” behind the Appreciation Party was Cruickshank, “with others who formed a committee for the purpose.”

They included: Gabriel, Sharon Caesar, Maureen Drakes, Fitz “Small Clothes” Charles, Jennifer Thomas, Donna Bovell, Mr. & Mrs. Peter Spencer, Jennifer Viechweg-Horsford, Daniel D. Crakes, and Mr. & Mrs. Ronald McIntosh.

Mason’s remarks at the reception focused primarily on “People and Togetherness”, stating “the multitude of benefits when we work together as a people.”

Later, she told Caribbean Life that she “will continue empowering the youth and enhancing the lifestyles of others, because it’s my passion to help others.

“As the saying goes, “No man is an island’,” she said. “People need people, and I live by my philosophy: ‘Do all that you can for all the people that you can in all ways that you can for as long as you can.’”