The Bronx-based St. Matthias Charities, Inc. on Saturday honored three outstanding community figures at its fifth annual fundraising Dinner and Awards Ceremony in Brooklyn.
Hospital executive Ramond Rodriguez, retired labor leader and philanthropist Luis Matos and Vincentian Evangelical Pastor Cornelius Olive were bestowed the honors at the gala event at the Friends of Crown Heights Educational Center.
Vincentian Baptist pastor Robert McBarnett, president of the St. Matthias Charities, Inc., told Caribbean Life that the honorees have, over the years, gone beyond the call of duty in assisting his group with medical, school and other supplies for healthcare institutions, schools and various communities in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
McBarnett said it was “a great event” that also featured a power point presentation on colorectal cancer by Dr. Shashank Agarawal, a physician at Wyckoff Heights Medical Center, on the Brooklyn-Queens corridor, and gospel singing by Evangelist Bridget Blucher, the Vincentian-born, Caribbean gospel diva.
Matos and Pastor Olive were on hand to receive the award; while Vincentian Daniella Fairbairn, chief concierge at Wycoff Heights Medical Center, accepted for her boss, Rodriguez.
“Today, I deem it a very special privilege as I reflect on the goodness of the Almighty God,” Pastor Olive, head of the Apostolic Church, Inc. in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, told Caribbean Life afterwards. “In spite of, He has been, and is exceedingly good to me. Therefore, I give Him praise and glory.
“I highly congratulate Minister McBarnett for the tremendous work he is doing on behalf of others: how unselfish!” he added. “I also want to thank him for honoring me as one who stands faithfully with him in his charitable outreaches.
“Minister McBarnett, may God continue to bless you more abundantly; and remember, as long as the Lord would allow me, I’ll be standing with you,” Pastor Olive continued. “Moreover, let me encourage every single person who may come in contact with this organization, the St. Matthias Charities, Inc., to do the best you can to give support for a worthy cause, and your living will not be in vain. God bless you.”
Pastor Olive graduated from the Berean School of the Bible with a Certificate in General Bible. He also obtained a Master’s degree in Theology from The Southern Bible Institute, and later received an honorary doctorate from The International Ministerial Fellowship of Jameson Evangelistic Association in Philadelphia, Pa.
During the years of 1980-1985, after the First Period of Bible School, Pastor Olive was transferred to St. Thomas, USVI, where he successfully pastored the sub-headquarters church for some of the Caribbean branches of the Apostolic faith.
Besides being pastor, Olive is general overseer of Trinity Apostolic Church in New York, with branch churches at Lower Questelles, Georgetown and Penniston in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Rodriguez is president and chief executive officer at Wyckoff Heights Medical Center, a 350-bed teaching hospital. Rodriquez has been a leader and top executive in health care, state government and social services for over 30 years.
As a seasoned managed care executive, Rodriguez was co-founder and chief executive officer of Socios Mayores En Salud Inc., the second largest insurance and health care provider organization in Puerto Rico, his native land.
He has also served as executive director of Sanus Health Plan of New York, senior vice president and general manager of Health Net and president of Columbia Greene Medical Center, which comprises two community hospitals and a nursing home.
Rodriguez holds a Juris Doctor [law] degree from DePaul University College of Law and a Bachelor of Arts from City College, City University of New York.
With over 42 years as a union member at 1199 SEIU, Dominican Republic-born Matos said he provided quality representation to home care workers and have participated in countless successful workers’ battles.
Matos said he currently builds international coalitions with Health Care and Community Organizations through WORPHC (World Organization for the Right of the People to Health Care).
Matos said he “actively organizes” more than 135 delegations to Canada, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Guatemala, Cuba and El Salvador.
Special guest artist Blucher brought the house down with hits from her wide repertoire, including “I am Satisfied” and “Lift up Jesus.”
Patrons contributed US$671 towards the purchase of a bronchoscope for the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital in Kingstown, the Vincentian hospital. McBarnett said his group had already raised US$5,500 for the bronchoscope that he said costs in the region of US$50,000.
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