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VincyCares distributes US$70,000 in supplies

VincyCares distributes US$70,000 in supplies

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School supplies valued at close to EC$190,000 are, this week and next week, being handed over to primary schools in Kingstown and surrounding areas, as well as in the Grenadines.{{more}}

The supplies, which were donated mainly by Vincentians living in New York and other parts of the United States, are being handed over by VincyCares, a charitable organization with branches in New York and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

This donation, the third since the group was formed in 2009, will bring to 57 the number of primary schools which have benefitted from the generosity of the group’s members.

President and co-founder of the group, Kenley “Shortmus” John, in an interview on Saturday, told SEARCHLIGHT that the local branch of the group “does such a good job of providing accountability,” that donors are motivated to continue to give.

John, who is normally resident in Washington D.C., is back home in St Vincent and the Grenadines for a short vacation. He journeyed to Bequia yesterday, along with other VincyCares members to distribute supplies to the three primary schools in Bequia.

He shared that “the joy on the kids’ faces when they receive the supplies,” gives him the extra motivation to continue with the project.

Members of the local VincyCares branch, assisted by Girl Guides of the number 28 St Joseph’s Convent and number 11 Girls’ High School companies, members of the Mije Modelling Agency and other volunteers met last Saturday morning at the Girl Guide Headquarters at Level Garden to unpack and sort 38 barrels of supplies, then repack them into boxes for distribution.

Co-founder of the group, Dahlia-Ann Howard-Lewis told SEARCHLIGHT that the members of VincyCares in the Diaspora want to give back to St Vincent and the Grenadines, specifically the primary schools, so that every child is provided with the basic necessities to go to school.

The value of this shipment is US$70,000 (EC$189,000), with each barrel costing approximately US$2,000 to fill with school supplies. In addition to the school supplies, three boxes of reading material, also donated by US-based members of VincyCares, will be donated to the Kingstown Public Library, this week.

John, orginally from Fountain, disclosed that the generosity of the group’s supporters has also made it possible for the group to award three secondary school scholarships to needy students this year. Each scholarship, he said, will run for five years, at a value of US$500 a year.

He said the group with work with the administrators of primary schools to identify the students who will receive these scholarships. He explained that to qualify to receive a scholarship, a student should be needy, and have the potential for excellence.

The scholarships are for students entering secondary school in 2012.

In 2011, the group awarded its first secondary school scholarship to a student of the Sandy Bay Secondary School. The recipient of that first scholarship is the child who inspired the formation of the group.

John, who attended the St Vincent Grammar School, then worked at the local branch of CIBC before migrating to the United States, shared that last year, the group received four awards in the United States in recognition of their work.

“The community has embraced this organization. We are now a 501C fully registered tax exempt organization in the state of New York. Last year, we were awarded four prestigious awards: one from the New York Congress, one from New York Congresswoman Euna Clarke, one from the Council Member and one from the State of New York for Community Service,” John said with a broad smile on his face.

Group member Sandra Noel told SEARCHLIGHT that she volunteers her time to the group for the sake of the community.

“VincyCares is doing a wonderful job and is reaching out to a lot of children in St Vincent and the Grenadines. I enjoy the volunteer work and don’t mind doing it at all,” Noel said.

Fessie Yorke of Standard Shippers in Brooklyn, New York ships the barrels to St Vincent free of charge. Howard-Lewis expressed thanks to him, as well as Keith Boyea of BMC Agencies, who stored the barrels here in St Vincent for over a month, and then trucked them to the Girl Guide Headquarters for sorting last Saturday, all at no cost to VincyCares.

“We are really, really grateful to Keith; he did a fantastic job,” she said.

She expressed thanks to the Government, through the Regional Integration and Diaspora Unit (RIDU), for granting the group duty free concessions on the importation of the supplies, and the many other corporate and individual volunteers for assisting with transporation, meals and in other ways.

“We are getting full accountability from VincyCares SVG and everyone is seeing where their contribution is going to,” John said.

He congratulated the local chapter and commended them on the “high level of professionalism” demonstrated.

After the boxes had been packed last Saturday, a short ceremony was held, during which plaques of appreciation were presented to four local members of VincyCares who were present at last Saturday’s activity. Sandra Noel, Carleen Heather Marshall, Marcelle Burgin and Enole Lawrence received VincyCares “vision awards”.

Clare Keizer and SEARCHLIGHT newspaper were described by John as being the “catalyst for public exposure” of VincyCares and received an honorary award from the group.

“Getting the information out to the public is so important,” John said, if more sponsors and more support are to be attracted.

John expressed his appreciation to his co-founder Dahlia-Ann Howard-Lewis for her “level of maturity and for keeping the group together on the ground.

Describing her as a “humble soldier”, he praised her for her organizational skills.

He said he is “too impressed” with the work done by the members here in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

The group, which was founded in late 2009 on the social networking site Facebook, presently has 940 Facebook members.

Thirty-seven schools in northern part of the mainland received supplies from the first two shipments.

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