The beautiful and exciting sixth annual Yesterday’s Children presentation, was certainly not lost on four, exceptional elderly Caribbean-born citizens, who danced, bobbed theirs heads and smiled during an African drum and dance precession, which led to a night of love, honor, and heart warming tributes.
Glenda Cadogan, Mauby Media Services CEO, despite the challenges she faced to once again share the evening of accomplishments with her usual patrons, on Sept. 25, the Trinidad-born humanitarian, prevailed, and named constellations for the elderly, and presented them with “You are a Shining Star plaques” during a winsome production of music, song, and dance.
John Neville Marcellin, an agile, 90-year-old patriarch, earned $2.50 on his first job as a delivery boy for a woman’s ready-made clothing store in his native Trinidad and Tobago. Marcellin said being good to “yourself and family” is what brought him to this mature age, after working 32 years on his second job as an airport mechanic for Pan Am Airways. He is the father to six children, who enjoyed kite flying while growing up.
“Life was hard but better in the 20s,” said Marcellin, who credits his contentment, and living with ease - characteristics, that allowed him to stay strong and healthy.
Helping others is what brought joy to Haitian-born Rita Olivier, a retired nurse, who savors her 93 years and still finds the time to make others happy.
The mother of one, grandmother to 10, and great-grandmother to 10, and who pitched marbles as a child, still yearn for a visit to her grandmother’s birthplace — Martinique, but for now she is satisfied with the blessings she has in her life.
At the glorious age of 99, Cassien “Whyie” Alexander Elva, remembers the good old days in her native St. Lucia, and atributes her longevity to her trust and faith in God while working hard. She still has a deep desir to visit Portugal, the home of Saint Our Lady of Fatima.
“Whyie” as she is lovingly called, said Jesus carried his cross and fell down three times but got back up. “Be strong in carrying your own cross and if you can’t lift it, drag it, said the mother of seven children, grandmother of 16, and great grandmother of 12, a retired babysitter, who loved pitching marbles as a child.
It could be said that Mary Thomas lived to 101 years because of the love she shared with her seven nephews and nieces and took care of them, some, who still live with her today.
Her love of poetry while growing up in Spanish Town, Jamaica, still resonates with Mary, a retired domestic and factory worker whose favorite verse is — “The heights that great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they, while their companion slept, were toiling up in the night.” She also loved a good game of cricket and hopscotch.
Arima Pennelope Beckles-Robinson, permanent representative of Trinidad and Tobago to the United Nations, said the elders should be cherished, and be lauded for making communities what they are today. “We must make sure they are deserving of every celebration and honor that you have given them,” said Beckles-Robinson.
Tribute was also paid to late United Nations Ambassador Dr. Lamuel Stanislaus, a past honoree of Yesterday’s Children.
The charming group of elders was lavished with gifts, and received the “Front Page Awards” – From We to You – presented by Solwazi Afi Olusola, of Ancestral Beauty Photography. Certificates from Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke were also presented to the honorees, and serenaded with the song “Smile” by saxophonist, Jeff Grannum.
Other musical tributes included a Kaiso performance by the Caribbean Folktrees, who revved up the audience with “Boyhood Days, and “Brown Girl In the Ring.” Dancers of the Bloodline Dance Theatre, put on a blend of Africa and rhythmic choreography, while Marcus Williams aroused the audience with his thrilling drum salute.
Valerie McCleod-Katz was the event’s hostess.
Adapted from the song “Yesterday’s Children” by Trinidad calypsonian Winston “Gypsy” Peters which says – “treat them good, be careful with what we do / cause when tomorrow comes if we’re lucky we may become yesterday’s child too” — the organization celebrates community elders, many who sacrificed their own desires and ambitions so that their children can become high achievers of today.
Donations raised from the event will go towards an elderly home in Haiti.
Board members of the recently formed Yesterday’s Children Foundation are Shirma Cadogan, Jaael Cudjoe, Gail Yvette David, Roslyn Smith, Collin Winter, Michelle Young-Holder, Mary Bishop, Kyle Jean-Pierre, Naomi Nicome and Glenda Cadogan.