After launching and reviving relief efforts in the wake of unprecedented circumstances afflicting the homeland, such as an effusive volcanic eruption, dengue fever and the COVID-19 pandemic, Vincentian nationals in the United States Diaspora are already rolling up their sleeves to dispatch much-needed supplies to the multi-island state.
On Saturday, Vincentian groups in New York and Florida collected, sorted and packed items for shipment.
Verna Arthur, chairperson of the Brooklyn-based SVG relief Inc., told Caribbean Life on Tuesday that her group made its first response to “a clarion call issued by NEMO (the National Emergency Management Organization) on behalf of our brothers and sisters in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”
“On Saturday, Feb. 27, a few members of SVG Relief Inc. came together at Standard Shippers to pack containers in preparation for shipment on Amerijet,” said Arthur, disclosing that members packed two commercial bins.
“I can safely say we will have three commercial bins ready to be shipped on Friday,” she added. “The objective is to have some items in SVG by early March.”
Arthur, a prominent Vincentian cultural figure and community activist in Brooklyn, said items packed included face masks, face shields, gloves and shoe protectors.
She said other items requested are collapsible jugs, cots (supports up to 300 lbs.), mattresses, folding chairs, folding tables, battery operated lanterns, reflective vests, traffic cones and wheelchairs.
“Any donation would be greatly appreciated,” said Arthur, stating that donations can be shipped to SVG Relief, Inc., c/o Standard Shippers, 9502 Ditmas Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11236; “or you may contact O’Brien Simmons, at 347-446-1827, if you need someone to pick up your donation.”
Mark Lindsay, president of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Central Florida Organization, Inc. (SVGCFO), also told Caribbean Life on Tuesday that his group conducted a Mask/Food Drive on Saturday, in Orlando, Florida, “to benefit the people of SVG.”
Lindsay that the event was held in collaboration with “our sister organization, the St. Vincent and the Grenadines South Florida Organization, which also held a Mask/Food drive in Ft. Lauderdale, Fl at the same time.
“We are pleased to report the event was a resounding success, as several boxes of food, masks and other supplies were collected, and several hundred dollars in cash donations were received – all of which will be used to buy masks, sanitizers and other supplies to be shipped to SVG,” he said.
Lindsay said all proceeds from the drive will be shipped to designated charitable organizations in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, including, SVG Red Cross, Marion House and the Catholic Church.
“The weather in Florida on Saturday was beautiful, and this contributed to the success of the event that was made possible by the generosity of our sponsors and donors,” Lindsay said.
He said sponsors included SwiftPac and Standard Shippers; Lynk784.com; Fins & Things; SVGAFL; DJ’s Supa Eyes, M1 and Host TroublZ; SVG DRIP; and Hairoun Lounge.
“From every perceivable angle, COVID-19, dengue fever and the effusive eruption of La Soufriere volcano have, undoubtedly, caused major anxiety in SVG,” said Arthur in a letter appealing to Vincentian organizations in New York a week ago to join in the relief efforts.
“The uncertainty of not knowing when things will get back to some sort of normalcy is troubling,” she warned. “A thousand thanks are not enough. “We remain grateful and humble by your kindness and generosity.”
Sherrill-Ann Mason-Haywood – coordinator of SVG Disaster Relief Initiative Platform (SVG-DRIP), said the group’s goal is “to leverage available technology to bring key stakeholders throughout the Vincentian Diaspora together to devise, collaborate and implement major joint initiatives to supplement disaster preparedness and relief efforts in SVG.”
“Through constructive dialogue and cooperation,” Mason-Haywood, who is also chairperson of the Brooklyn-based SVG Diaspora Committee of New York, said SVG-DRIP has “now mobilized persons and groups throughout the Diaspora in the USA, United Kingdom, Canada, US Virgin Islands and St. Maarten to work together to kick-start a major, joint relief initiative.”