‘Together we aspire; together we achieve’: Trinidad & Tobago Nurses Association of America, Inc.

Members of the Trinidad and Tobago Nurses Association of America, Inc. (TTNAA).
Photo by Nelson A. King

With their motto, “Together We Aspire; Together We Achieve,” Registered Nurse Thecla Williams, president of the Brooklyn-based Trinidad and Tobago Nurses Association of America, Inc. (TTNAA), says that nursing is “not merely a profession; it is a calling.”

“Nursing is such a rewarding career – a very noble vocation that demands compassion, skill, and commitment to the well-being of our patients,” Williams told Caribbean Life. “It gave me great pleasure to be a nurse.

“Nurses all over the world are celebrated during Nurses’ Week but should be recognized daily,” she added. “Nurses are emphatic, devoted, dedicated, determined and selfless. We advocate for our patients; we bring so much joy into our patients’ lives. We go above and beyond to make a difference.

“As per Maya Angelou, ‘As a nurse, we have the opportunity to heal the mind, soul, heart, and body of our patients. They may forget your name, but they will never forget how you made them feel,’” Williams continued.

She said TTNAA was formed in August 1968 by a small group of nursing visionaries.

President Thecla Williams addresses ceremony during the 55th anniversary celebration of T&T Nurses Association of America in September 2023.
President Thecla Williams addresses ceremony during the 55th anniversary celebration of T&T Nurses Association of America in September 2023. Photo by Nelson A. King

“These nurses were convinced that there was a compelling need to re-establish, as well as maintain, linkage with their colleagues back home,” Williams said. “Their foresight and unselfishness afforded the association the opportunity to celebrate 55 years of existence.”

The first election of officers took place in January 1969. TTNAA became incorporated in 1977 and, years later, received its 501c (3) non-profit certificate.

The first president was Phyllis Clarke-Mills, on whom the status of Life Membership was conferred because of her outstanding contributions to the association.

Williams is now the 15th president. The rest of the current executive members are: Cynthia Sterling-Fox (president -elect), Maudlyn George (assistant secretary), Jocelyn Alleyne (treasurer), Pamela Charles (business manager), Naomi Henry (Trustee I), Carol Thomas (Trustee II ), Barbara Guevarra-Francis (chaplin) and Joan Mayers (public relations officer).

“The purpose was, and still is, to stimulate the professional, social, and developmental interests of our colleagues in the City of New York, its environs and the homeland,” Williams said.

TTNAA is a charter member of the Trinidad and Tobago Alliance (North America) Inc., which was established in 1971.

It is also a member of the Caribbean American Nurses Association (CANA).

As an affiliate of CANA, Williams said TTNAA participates in the Caribbean Nurses Organization’s (CNO), biennial conferences held in different Caribbean locations.

TTNAA is a professional non-profit entity whose membership consists of professional registered nurses of Trinidad and Tobago origin.

Williams said the functions of TTNAA are to: Coordinate the ideas and activities of its members; conduct and promote continuing educational programs in healthcare; help and/or make contributions to health organizations in Trinidad and Tobago, the Caribbean and the United States of America; and serve as a resource group to all nurses.

During the past 55 years, Williams said the association has “maintained its focus and has offered a myriad of activity in the furtherance of its goals.

“To our nationals wishing to attain a degree in nursing, we offer scholarship grant awards annually at the anniversary celebrations,” she said.

To date, Williams said a total of 50-plus grant awards have been afforded to qualified deserving nursing students. This Scholarship Grant Awards program was initiated in 1990.

Williams said the association also provides mentoring for nursing graduates.

“The ability to obtain funds for the grant awards is through the generosity of you, our patrons, members and well-wishers,” she said. “TTNAA is focused on continuing to further expand the nursing profession that is desperately in need of competent nurses.

“Up to this past year healthcare associates, as well as exemplary members who supported and contributed to our organization, were recognized,” Williams added.

She said continuing health education, in the form of conferences and seminars, are offered biennially throughout the New York Metropolitan Area.

Williams said TTNAA hosted its last in-person educational conference in May of 2018 entitled “Health Care System Challenges: Incentives for Access and Delivery of Quality Care.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, she said many on-line seminars were conducted, even until today.

Williams said TTNAA is now in the preparatory stages of attending the 33rd CNO in Guyana during the month of October.

“The members provide health education to the citizens in the various communities in collaboration with local hospitals, churches and schools,” she said. “Through these conferences and seminars, information on current trends in nursing and health care is shared with participants, thereby impacting the social, economic and life experience in general.”

Since 1983, Williams said TTNAA has continuously collaborated with the Trinidad and Tobago Registered Nurses Association by coordinating five-day quadrennial conferences in Trinidad and Tobago.

“These ongoing conferences’ closing evaluations usually reveal positive outcomes and provide opportunities for the two associations to evaluate the educational needs of the homeland,” she said, stating that participants at these include nationals, USA, Caribbean region, Canada and the United Kingdom.

“The group is very cognizant of the fact that the strength of any association depends on its membership,” Williams said. “Therefore, colleagues are encouraged to become a part of TTNAA through active recruitment efforts. Please join us. Our website is https://wwwttnaainc.com.

“The officers and members look at this milestone as an opportunity to rejoice and give thanks,” she added. “Rejoice, because of our outstanding growth and accomplishments. We give thanks to our many patrons and friends, who have supported us so graciously over these 55 years.

“As we celebrate this auspicious and memorable occasion, we look toward the future with confidence, knowing that our organization will continue to grow from strength to strength towards attaining even greater heights,” Williams continued. “It is our prayer that our guiding principle for the future will be ‘God is our refuge and our strength.’”

She invited the public to support the group’s forth-coming activities, including the 4th Annual Walk, a fundraising event towards the Annual Grant Scholarship Award Ceremony to assist deserving nursing students defray the cost of their education, in Queens, on Saturday, June 8, 2024, 10 a.m., Brookville Park (Brookville Ave. & 147th Ave.); in Brooklyn, Saturday, June 15, 2024, 10 a.m. Prospect Park (Ocean Ave. & Lincoln Pl.)

“If you are unable to come to these locations, we encourage you to walk anywhere that you are able to and contact any member to donate contributions,” Williams said.

She said the group will also be hosting its 56th Anniversary Gala and 32nd Annual Scholarship Grant Award on Sunday, Sept. 15, 2024, 1 p.m. – 6 p.m., Glen Terrace, 5313 Ave. N, Brooklyn, NY 11234.

TTNAA’s mailing address is 1977 Ralph Ave., Suite 634, Brooklyn, NY 11234.

“We look forward to all future collaborations for ‘Together We Aspire, Together We Will Continue to Achieve,’” she said, modifying the group’s motto.