September 19, 2012 marked twenty-nine years of political Independence for the people of St. Kitts and Nevis.
On Friday, September 28, 2012, a blend of Kittitian and Nevisian patriots congregated at the Villa Barone Manor, one of New York City’s most exquisite dining banquet halls, to celebrate twenty-nine years of Independence with the New York/St Peters Alumni and Friends.
This year’s Independence Gala was a classy and splendidly organized evening of honour and commitment to aiding women and families in the federation suffering from the ills of cancer. The event brought together several organizations in the Diaspora, specifically in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut area, as well as the distinguished presence of the Right Honourable Prime Minister of the federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. Denzil L. Douglas, the Honourable Marcella Liburd, Delano Bart, Mrs. Astona Brown and their guests.
Following a brief cocktail hour, President of the New York/St. Peters Alumni and Friends, Mrs. Maureen Rouse, brought greetings from her organization and expressed how pleased she was to be part of the Gala that not only celebrated the twenty-ninth anniversary of St. Kitts and Nevis’s Independence but also honours and supports cancer victims.
Hosts Troy Welsh, Vice President of New York/St. Peters and Friends and Coreentjé Phipps-Benjamin, Green Valley Global’s PRO, ensured a smooth flow of the event, and called on Pastor Wendy Mitchell to invoke God’s blessings on the gathering once the national anthems of both St. Kitts and Nevis and the USA were rendered.
Following a detailed introduction by COMPAS founder Mrs. Janet Archibald-Gumbs, the federation’s Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Dr. Denzil L. Douglas expressed his sincere gratitude for the invitation and also highly commended the leadership and members of the New York/St. Peter’s Alumni and Friends for their vision emphasizing how significant it is that even from a distance, Nevisians and Kittitians abroad still think of home.
Mrs. Samantha Huggins-Welsh, New York/St. Peter’s Alumni and Friends’ Secretary, introduced the Honourable Marcella Liburd who also placed on record her pride in being invited to share in the plush affair and used the opportunity to expound on many of the advancements government has made on various fronts in St. Kitts and Nevis, particularly with regard to crime, health, education and the economy. Minister Liburd ended on a remarkably high note reminding guests that, “We the people have the power to uplift our country. As we celebrate our anniversary of independent existence, let us challenge each other to look deep within our being to find ways to make our country better.”
Powerful words from an equally powerful woman!
Mrs. Paulette Richardson-Belgrave introduced the night’s honoree, Ms. Greta Salsbury, who expressed warm appreciation to the New York/St. Peter’s Alumni & Friends for the honour bestowed on her and vowed to continue her work as an advocate for women and families who suffer from the dark clouds of cancer.
Musical entertainment for the evening’s celebration was provided by the popular and musically versatile DJ Lincoln Bass. Bass definitely kept the guests bouncing out of their chairs and onto the dance floor right down to the very last song.
Once the dancing and festivities were done on Friday night, many more individuals turned out to worship with KABA and the Crawford United Methodist Church family in the Bronx on the afternoon of Sunday September 30, 2012.
Her Excellency Ambassador Jacinth Henry-Martin and her staff put forward their best efforts to collaborate with KABA, the main organizer of the event, in ensuring not only a sizeable turnout for the service, but also a great opportunity to fellowship and reunite with Kittitians and Nevisians. Ambassador Henry-Martin shared her vision for her people and encouraged all citizens to join her in attaining her goals. She reminded the attendees that even without an official title, all Kittitians and Nevisians are ambassadors for our islands.
Pastor Eugene Phipps of Sandy Point who resides in New York delivered the message which touched on several aspects of the Kittitian and Nevisian existence, including pride in country and in one’s self, understanding who we are as ambassadors and continuing the work that will build the nation of St. Kitts and Nevis to make it a better place for all.
Deputy Prime Minister, the Honourable Sam Condor also spoke briefly as to the delight he felt have been called upon to share in worship with so many citizens in New York and admitted that he was beaming with sincere pleasure to be in the midst of Kittitians and Nevisians in celebration of our federation’s independence anniversary.
One of the high points of Sunday evening’s fellowship was a presentation of CARE packages to students who recently commenced their studies in various colleges in the New York area.
Ms. Delores Wilkes, Mrs. Janet Archibald-Gumbs, and Ms. Heather Archibald, founders of COMPAS are indeed blazing the trail in their mission to serve the federation with distinction. Their collaborative work has introduced the federation’s youth to the College Mentoring, Preparatory and Access Services, Inc. or COMPAS which helps to mentor and prepare young people for college by tutoring them so that they are academically prepared, learn the skills of navigating college, and have access to a network of mentors for social, financial and emotional guidance. COMPAS provides support to students who come from the Caribbean to study in New York City. This past Sunday, the founders were clearly proud to be part of an initiative that assists some of our ambitious youth in making their transition to college life a smooth one.
And so it was for over three hours on Sunday evening that the citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis prayed together, sang together, ate together and danced together. Soul stirring steel pan music by the Jupiter band kept the audience enlivened and Knocking on Heaven’s Door singer Ed Robinson rocked young and old with his melodious voice. Once the service was complete, the entertainment, the mingling and the reconnecting left all who attended the service on a feel good “SKN High.”
The level of camaraderie, respect and energy prevalent at what can be dubbed “mini-reunions” in New York City to celebrate this anniversary milestone, signaled a ray of hope for greater things on the horizon for the strong willed citizens of the twin-island paradise. The collaboration of many individuals and organizations in the Diaspora has undoubtedly set the stage for a thirtieth anniversary showdown in 2013.
A MEGA THANK YOU to all who supported the Independence events this year.
The best is yet to come!