Prayer Breakfast aids SVG Penn Relays athletes

Several Vincentians in the United States recently showed their support for Vincentian athletes attending the illustrious Penn Relays in Philadelphia by patronizing a fundraising prayer breakfast at the Friends of Crown Heights Educational Center in Brooklyn.

Nationals said they were obligated to support the cause, organized by sisters Rosita and Evelyn Deshong and Yvette Deshong Laborde, and Claudette Thomas-Butler, in conjunction with the umbrella Vincentian group in the United States, the Brooklyn-based Council of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Organizations, U.S.A., Inc. (COSAGO).

James Cordice, considered the “life blood” of the nation’s participation in the games, told Caribbean Life that the prayer breakfast “continues to be an excellent fundraiser” for Vincentian athletes.

“One hundred percent of the proceeds will be utilized for the hospitality of our visiting track teams to Penn Relays 2016,” he said, hoping that the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Community College will join the Thomas Saunders Secondary School in participating in the Penn Relays next year.

“Though challenging, it can be done,” added Cordice, stating that, with hard work, perseverance and “the spirit of resiliency” the nation will eventually reap the benefits of its investment in the oldest and largest collegiate athletic event in the United States.

Cordice said that the Female Team of the Thomas Saunders Secondary School – the only school in the nation that has participated in the Penn Relays for the past five years – ranked 53rd out of 364 competing schools in this year’s Penn Relays Carnival. The Penn Relays are conducted annually for three successive days leading up to the last weekend in April.

Cordice said the fundraising prayer breakfast also “creates camaraderie amongst all facets of our community.

“We eat, drink and socialize, while worshipping at the same time,” he said.

COSAGO president Laverne McDowald-Thompson, whose organization has been supporting the Penn Relays initiative for the past five years, said she was pleased by the outpouring of support for the prayer breakfast.

“I want to thank all our supporters and friends for coming out to fellowship, to share friendship and to give thanks to Almighty God in songs and praise, as we raise funds for truly a worthy cause” she said.

Monica Laborde, president of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Association of Massachusetts, brought along two members of her group for the prayer breakfast — Ann Hewitt and Yvonne John.

“It’s always a pleasure coming here to support the kids [Vincentian athletes],” Laborde said. “Whatever it takes to bring them here, we’ll support.”

Rosita DeShong, who joined her sisters in helping to organize the prayer breakfast for the past three years, said she felt obligated to give back to her native land.

“I don’t mind, I like to help; so I don’t mind participating and doing this,” she said.

The prayer breakfast featured, among other things, gospel singing by local and guest artistes, including Jamaican Marcia Allen, who belched out “The World was this Way” and “Once I was a Child of the King.”

Patrons feasted on a variety of local delicacies, including Black fish, Tri-Tri cakes, breadfruit and saltfish, and bakes and doughboy.