New Consul General of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to the United States, Rondy “Luta” McIntosh on March 25 fulfilled his New Year’s resolution by hosting the first Passport Satellite Office in Brooklyn.
“The aim of the Satellite Office was primarily to bring the services of the Consulate to the people, as we recognized that people are working the same hours that the Consulate is open and experience difficulty getting to the Consulate during the normal work week,” McIntosh told Caribbean Life on Monday. “So, we decided to meet our people half of the way by operating at a time and place when they can easily access our services.”
McIntosh said the event — held at the Friends of Crown Heights, 671 Prospect Pl., Brooklyn — was successful.
“We saw a number of Vincentians showing up to renew their documents, (and) sought advice from expert immigration lawyers, medical professionals, COVID-19 team and a financial literacy coach,” he said, stating that presentations were made by Lyrdine Thimot, MetroPlusHealth; Janet Wyllie, Women, Infant & Children (WIC); Elisabeth Stevens, Coalition of Concerned Medical Professionals (CCMP); Arden Tannis, financial coach; and Lloyd Joe and Brian Figeroux, Esq. on immigration.
“On behalf of the Consulate General of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, let me personally thanks the planning committee, the professionals who rendered their services free of cost and our Vincentian nationals who showed up to support our Satellite Office venture,” McIntosh added. “This will be an ongoing venture; so, stay tuned to our Social Media page for updates.
“We are here to serve, and we will break down barriers to serve our people,” he continued.
As he began his first full year as the new St. Vincent and the Grenadines Consul General to the US, McIntosh, in early January, listed the hosting of the Satellite Office in Brooklyn among a number of things he will like to accomplish in 2023.
McIntosh, who is also a popular soca artiste, on Aug. 1, replaced Howie Prince, who had served as Consul General for over five years.
“Change is inevitable, and my ambition is to be that change the Diaspora community yearns for,” he said while setting his goals for the new year.
The consul general said atop his agenda is establishing satellite offices in other states, with heavy Vincentian presence, adding that the first office will be set up in Brooklyn in the first quarter of 2023.
He said the Consulate General also plans to partner with the local National Insurance Services (NIS) to launch its contributory program to Vincentians living in the United States and other Diaspora countries, and that he will work with the Carnival Development Corporate and the USA VINCY Day Committee to launch VINCY Mas 2024 at the annual, massive VINCY Picnic in Long Is.
In addition, McIntosh said his office will work with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Consular Corps to “plan and execute celebrations for the 50th Anniversary of CARICOM”, and will also work with the corps to “execute the first Caribbean Parade on 6th Avenue in Manhattan.”
The Vincentian consul general said he plans to assist in reviving Vincentian groups and organizations across the United States, and improve and increase services offered by the Consulate General, such as issuing temporary driver’s licenses.
For St. Vincent and the Grenadines independence celebrations in the US, McIntosh said he plans to incorporate “talents” from the homeland.
He said the consulate general plans to, among other things, conduct seminars “to enlighten Vincentians about immigration issues and their rights,” access funding and scholarships for Blacks in the US, and lecture on “other topics of concern to our Diaspora community.”
When he assumed office in early August, McIntosh told a reception in his honor, at the Friends of Crown Heights Educational Center in Brooklyn, that he wanted to have very “open and frank” discussions with nationals in the Diaspora.
“We are one people and one common homeland, and we should be looking out for each other more,” McIntosh, a former sales manager at the state-owned National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), told the reception, organized jointly by the Friends of Crown Heights Educational Centers, headed by Vaughan Toney, chief executive officer and president of the centers, who, in September, was named Ambassador-at-Large by Prime Minister Dr. Ralph E. Gonsalves.
Other co-organizers included the Brooklyn-based Council of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Organizations, USA, Inc. (COSAGO), the umbrella Vincentian group in the US; and the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Diaspora Committee of New York, also a Brooklyn-based group.
The reception also served as farewell to Prince.
“I want to socialize with my people,” McIntosh told the reception. “I want to go out from the Consulate General and meet my people. I want to be who I am, with a little control. I want to walk with you. I am here to work with you. Call on me. I’m out-going.”
He revealed that, in a prior discussion with Prince, his immediate predecessor told him that “the hardest part of the job is the people.”
In a video circulated in the Diaspora, a few days before the reception, McIntosh thanked Prime Minister Gonsalves and the Government and people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines for “affording me the opportunity to represent Vincentians” in the US Diaspora.
He said he was “very privileged” to have Prime Minister Gonsalves visit the Consulate General on a stop-over in New York before heading to Taiwan. Gonsalves had headed a seven-member delegation, according to a statement from the Consulate General.
“We had a very long and fruitful chat about plans for the Consulate and for the people living in the Diaspora,” said McIntosh in the video, with the prime minister interjecting occasionally.
He said he will work with all Vincentian throughout the United States, “to make things easier, without favor, without political coloration.”
The Consulate General said in a statement that Gonsalves, during his brief visit to New York, reiterated his full confidence in appointing McIntosh.
“I have absolutely no doubt that McIntosh would do an excellent job,” the Consulate General quoted the Vincentian leader as stressing.
In a synopsis of major accomplishments during his first five months in office, McIntosh said the Consulate General partnered with the New Jersey Committee for the Inaugural Vincentian Flag-Raising event in Newark; and Inaugural Vincentian Flag-Raising event in New York City with Mayor Eric Adams, Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs Manuel Castro, Commissioner of International Affairs Edward Mermelstein, a representative from the Office of Governor of New York Kathy Hochul, and the Miss Caribbean USA Teen Queen Jolie Curbin, a first-generation Vincentian.
The consul general said St. Vincent and Grenadines became the first English-speaking Caribbean country to have the Empire State Building in Manhattan lit “in the colors of our national flag in celebration of our 43rd Anniversary of Independence” last October.
He said the consulate general also donated furniture to the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines; made book donation to the Public Library in Kingstown, the Vincentian capital; donated 300 flags to 300-plus children at the Calliaqua Anglican School for their independence celebration; as well as donated fire equipment to the Fire Department at the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force.
In addition, McIntosh said the consulate general was relocated to “a more accommodating office space in the same building,” in midtown Manhattan, “at a minimal cost of US$1,100.00 for IT (Information Technology) work.”
He said he will work with Vincentians “to make our Diaspora community the best ever, and bring tangible benefits to our homeland, sweet SVG (St. Vincent and the Grenadines),” adding that the unity was for “the greater good.”