Despite a pall that was cast on the Vincentian community in the United States over the unexpected Christmas tragedy and destruction at home by a freak storm, the Brooklyn-based St. Vincent and the Grenadines Nurses Association of New York, Inc. still sought to put on a very brave face in staging its inaugural Winter Wonderland Entertainment Evening.
“When we planned this event, this was not in our wildest dream,” Celia Bramble, president and retired nurse told patrons at St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church on Dec. 29, alluding to the Christmas Eve storm.
“In one of our meetings, we said we’ll reach out to the rural areas – Biabou, Chateaubelair, etc. But look at what happened,” added the retired colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve, while appealing for monetary contributions to the relief efforts.
“When we heard about this, we had to shift our focus to support the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” she continued. “Your proceeds will support others at home.”
Bramble said patrons instantly dug into their wallets and pocket books in raising US$1,200 for the cause.
She told Caribbean Life that a check in that amount will shortly be delivered to St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ U.S. Consul General Selmon Walters who was present at the event and who chairs the Brooklyn-based St. Vincent and the Grenadines Relief Steering Committee.
Besides the lost of nine lives, Walter spoke about damage done to homes and infrastructure, stating that it would cost in the region of EC$500 million to rebuild the nation.
But, despite the gloomy picture at home, patrons also braved the rainy and cold weather to enjoy the festivity.
“Despite the challenging weather, so many people turned out to support the event,” Bramble said. “The feedback was fantastic.
“We had a very short time to plan it; and, despite the short duration, it was really well received,” she added. “The atmosphere reflected the whole issue of the ‘Winter Wonderland’ theme.
“The performers were very good, and they donated their services,” continued Bramble, noting that children of member-nurses also participated in the event.
Former president Clari Gilbert, who served as Mistress of Ceremony, gave an improvised serenading speech; Doreen Swift and Company performed a liturgical dance to “Precious Lamb of God;” and Tobagonian crooner Hilton Samuel rendered “O Holy Night” and “Silent Night” and urged Vincentians in song to “Don’t Give Up,” referring to the floods.
Other featured artistes included Cyril “Scorcher” Thomas; Divine Praise Music Ministry; The Symphonic Sound; Trinidadian Ngozi on steel pan; poet Tajana Edwards; BLP Group dancers and Garifuna drummers from Belize.
Bramble said the annual gala luncheon in June is the group’s next big fundraising event.
She, however, said the current focus is sending medical supplies to areas severely affected by the storm.
Recently, the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Nurses Association of New York, Inc. dispatched “a lot of medical supplies” home, including wheel chairs, suction machines and oxygen equipment, Bramble said.