Successful walk for Vincentian volcanic relief

Participants at the Vincentian walk-a-thon at Marine Park in Brooklyn.
Photo by Nelson A. King

In their ongoing efforts to provide relief to their compatriots after April’s massive volcanic eruptions in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, members and supporters of the Brooklyn-based SVG Relief USA, Inc. on Saturday held what has been described as a “very successful” fundraising walk-a-thon at Marine Park in Brooklyn.

“The purpose of this event is to continue our efforts in helping in the recovery of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, as they continue to battle COVID-19, the build back efforts of La Soufriere Volcano and Hurricane Ida, as well as the existent struggle with dengue fever,” Verna Arthur, chairperson of SVG Relief USA, Inc., told Caribbean Life on Monday.

“Fundraising events will afford us the opportunity to be in a state of continued readiness and respond to issues and clarion calls affecting SVG (St. Vincent and the Grenadines),” she added. “The walk-a-thon was a great success. The weather was fantastic, and I am pleased to say that we all had a wonderful time.”

Arthur also thanked members responsible for coordinating the event, “especially Ancilla Friday, secretary of the organization.

“A special thanks to our walk-a-thon sponsors for your generous support, and without whom this event would not have come to fruition,” she said, also thanking elected officials, hospitals, faith-based organizations, small businesses, non-profit organizations, community leaders, block associations, schools, other individuals and “our magnificent volunteers for their amazing support/contributions toward our initial SVG Relief drive, which began in April this year.”

Additionally, Arthur expressed “special thanks” to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, National Emergency Mobilization Organization (NEMO), Lions South, Rotary South, SVG Red Cross Association and the Salvation Army in SVG “with whom we have established partnerships for emergency efforts, as well as the above-mentioned ongoing challenges in SVG.

“We are all in this together,” she said. “Let us continue to support our brothers and sisters.”

Some walkers and officials flank fundraising table at Marine Park in Brooklyn. Photo by Nelson A. King

Friday — who also coordinates annual walk-a-thons for her club, the Brooklyn-based Club St. Vincent, Inc., to assist Vincentian athletes participating in the illustrious Penn Relays at the Franklin Field Stadium, at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia – said Saturday’s event was very successful.

“It was a beautiful fall morning, weather in the high 60’s and perfect for the occasion,” she told Caribbean Life, disclosing that “about 30 enthusiasts, including some committee members participated in the walk.”

Friday said Vincentian Michael Hadaway, who has been conducting warm-up sessions for other walk-a-thons, “engaged us in warm-up stretches, as we prepared to walk around the park for about five laps.”

“There is much work to be done in rebuilding our nation, and we are in this for the long hall,” she assured. “We are a committee of full disclosure and transparency, and will report the income at a later date. Another task well executed by the members of the SVG Relief USA, Inc.!”

St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ US Consul General Howie Prince also participated in the walk-a-thon.

He said the event was “a welcome getaway from COVID-19-induced cabin fever,” adding that it “came with benefits.”

“Congrats to all the colleagues who made it a splendid affair,” Prince said. “Indeed, it was a splendid affair, with the added benefits of building camaraderie and exercise. Good job everyone!”

Calypsonian Carlos “Rejector” Providence, president of the Brooklyn-based Dynamites Calypso Tent, the lone Vincentian calypso tent in North America, brought along three members of his group for the walk – Secretary Garnes Byron, who is also a member of SVG Relief USA, Inc.; Dennis Bowman and Jose Juan Diaz.

Providence, a former calypso monarch in Vincy Mas, said it was “a great venture worthy of our support and collaboration, as they (SVG Relief USA, Inc.) continue their selfless efforts to assist our Vincentian community, and at the same time, getting out in the fresh air, meeting and greeting, and, at the same time, getting some much-needed exercise after more than 18 months of lockdown due to the pandemic.”

He said the walk was “very refreshing and full of fun, as we walked some six miles.

“Our presence and intent were well appreciated by the organizers and all present,” Providence said. “We do hope the organizers would have achieved their goal and continue their great work.

“We, of the Dynamites, stand ready to support and collaborate with all in efforts to uplift our Vincentian community, culture and ourselves,” he added.

Friday said the SVG Relief USA, Inc., which was established in December 2013 to assist with relief efforts for St. Vincent and the Grenadines, “has answered the call of duty and service not only in St. Vincent and the Grenadines but around the Caribbean on several occasions.

“With the eruption of the La Soufriere Volcano in SVG in April this year, the committee was reenergized and committed to go the extra mile to assist the people of our homeland,” she said, stating that the group made several appeals and received the support of many persons, groups and organizations in the Diaspora.

“We were able to ship several crates and barrels with supplies for distribution to Vincentians,” Friday added. “We also sent two members from the committee to SVG on a Fact-Finding Mission, which was well accomplished.”

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