The Brooklyn-based umbrella Vincentian group in the United States, Council of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Organizations, U.S.A., Inc. (COSAGO) on Sunday honored two stalwart community advocates for their exemplary service to the Vincentian community in the Diaspora and at home.
Earl Horne — a sports and culture enthusiast, who served as secretary of the local and Windward Islands football (soccer) associations and currently serves as COSAGO’s public relations officer — and Pastor Robert McBarnett, founder and president of the Bronx-based philanthropic organization St. Matthias Charities, Inc., which furnishes medical supplies to healthcare facilities in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and school and other supplies to communities at home, received the special honors at a gala Independence Luncheon at Grand Prospect Hall in Brooklyn.
The sell-out event, held at that venue for the very first time and in conjunction with the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Consulate General, climaxed celebrations in New York for the nation’s 36th anniversary of political independence.
“On behalf of COSAGO, I salute the honorees,” said COSAGO President Laverne McDowald-Thompson in her introductory remarks. “Mr. Earl Horne, you have done an outstanding job in sports and culture — both in New York and at home — and I know you will continue to gain a lot of respect in this regard.
“Mr. Robert McBarnett, your humanitarian drive for St. Vincent and the Grenadines is outstanding,” she added. “Thank you and congratulations!”
Horne and McBarnett also received a New York City citation from Brooklyn Councilman Dr. Mathieu Eugene, the Haitian-born representative for the predominantly Caribbean 40th Council District in Brooklyn. Eugene is the first Haitian to be elected to the City Council.
Horne, nephew of former St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ Culture Minister John Horne, said he was grateful to COSAGO for bestowing the extraordinary honor on him.
“It is with great honor I stand here before my family, my friends and strangers to accept this much-appreciated award from COSAGO,” said Horne in his acceptance speech, preceded by a standing ovation, primarily from his family, friends and community supporters, including members of the local soccer fraternity.
“Madam President and your executive, thank you for bringing out the best in me,” he added. “It is with humility I give back to the great nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and all the Caribbean islands.”
McBarnett said: “It is with great honor that I stand before you today.
“I accept this award on behalf of the St. Matthias Charities, Inc. and the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” he said. “In 2011, when I handed over that wheelchair to the Georgetown Hospital, I had no idea we would be here in 2015.”
Horne said he developed a love for the game of football at a very young age.
He said, while he played football for a short time and enjoyed it very much, he felt it was his “calling” to become an administrator, manager and organizer “all rolled into one.”
Horne also had “an appetite for carnival,” adding that, in his “mind,” he was a very good wire-bender for former mas producer Lennox “Scully” Hunte.
Horne was one of the founders of local club Avenues United and later served as secretary for Honved Football Team.
As the secretary of the Windward Islands Football Association (WIFA), Horne said he was the “mastermind behind the home and away games” in the early 1970s.
Two years after migrating to New York in 1976, Horne said he “masterminded” the formation of the Brooklyn-based Hairoun Sports Club, erstwhile perennial champions in the Central Brooklyn Soccer League (CBSL) and dubbed the “Kings of Brooklyn Soccer.”
He said the Hairoun Netball Team also won its “fair share of trophies.” Additionally, Horne was manager of Team SVG USA in the Brooklyn-based Caribbean Soccer Cup and was one of the “driving forces” behind the team’s successes in the early years, starting in the 1990s.
Horne currently works as a senior activity specialist at Research Foundation at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College.
McBarnett said he grew up following the footsteps of his late grandfather, Archbishop Percival Dick, and his mother Margaret Quashie‐Dick, both Spiritual Baptist leaders. Mc Barnett is now an ordained Spiritual Baptist Minister.
McBarnett said he always wanted to help and give back to the community but did not know what to do or how to get started.
He, however, found a way to give back in 2011. While he was a member of St. Jude Baptist Church on Bristol Street in Brooklyn, McBarnett said church members travelled on a crusade to St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Part of the church’s mission was to distribute food, clothes and toiletries to the less fortunate, he said.
During the course of distributions, McBarnett said he donated a wheelchair, which was given to him by his brother-in-law, to the Georgetown Hospital.
On returning to New York, McBarnett said he was “filled with joy and the idea” of continuing what he and his fellow church members had started.
Consequently, he said he urged the church to “do this more often and in a bigger and better way,” but he lamented that “no one was interested” in his ideas.
So he said he “dropped the subject with them [church members] and went directly” to his wife, Sharon, with his “big idea.”
With Sharon’s full support, McBarnett said they travelled in 2012 to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, with “two oversized refrigerated boxes containing over
US$10,000 worth of food, clothes, sheets, toiletries, crutches, wheelchairs, canes, books, pencils, bibles and other miscellaneous items for the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”
After they returned to New York, McBarnett said they founded the St. Matthias Charities, Inc., named in honor of his late grandfather.
In February 2013, the group returned to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, with a 40-foot container of medical supplies and equipment for the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital in Kingstown, the Vincentian hospital.
Dr. Vijay Arya – a physician at Wyckoff Heights Medical Center, on the Brooklyn / Queens corridor, where McBarnett works in the Environmental Department – and his foundation had donated an endoscopy/colonoscopy machine worth US$100,000.00 to the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital, McBarnett said. Other items were distributed to residents of various communities.
In June, St. Matthias Charities, Inc. conducted its first mission to Grenada, donating medical supplies to the general hospital and other items to various communities.
Last month, McBarnett travelled home to donate two EKG machines to the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital.
The group also distributed school supplies to residents of several communities.