Hundreds of Vincentians and other Caribbean nationals in the United States on Sept. 24 demonstrated their continued, unflinching support for the nation’s participating in the Penn Relays in Philadelphia by supporting a fundraising Prayer Breakfast at the Friends of Crown Heights Educational Center in Brooklyn.
Nationals participated in the fifth annual event, spearheaded by the “Friends of COSAGO” [Council of St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ Organizations, U.S.A., Inc.], the Brooklyn-based umbrella Vincentian group in the United States. The “Friends” comprise the DeShong sisters and Claudette Thomas-Butler, Brooklyn residents.
Patrons feasted on mouth-watering Vincentian delicacies – such as blackfish, roast breadfruit, saltfish, saltfish and tri-tri cakes, doughboy and bakes – and participated in the Praise and Worship, among other items on the program.
“My sisters (Evelyn and Rosita DeShong), Claudette Butler and I started doing the breakfast five years ago,” Yvette DeShong-Laborde told Caribbean Life.
“The purpose of the breakfast is to raise money for the youth from St. Vincent and the Grenadines who participate in the Penn Relays,” she added. “We have been receiving a lot of support and enjoy doing this for the kids.”
COSAGO president Laverne McDowald-Thompson, said it was gratifying to be part of the Prayer Breakfast team in aid of St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ Penn Relays athletes.
“On behalf of COSAGO, I express my sincere thanks to the group of ladies who hosted this event,” she said, adding that the funds from the event “help to defray the expense of the athletes who come to participate in these international games.
“I’m so happy that the opportunity is there for our athletes to participate in the relays,” McDowald-Thompson added. “To our patrons, your support is forever grateful; a special thank you to everyone for your unselfishness.”
James Cordice — the Philadelphia-based architect behind the country’s participation in the illustrious games that take place in late April, at the Franklin Field Stadium, at the University of Pennsylvania — hailed the quartet who spearheaded the Prayer Breakfast and all who aided in preparing the delicacies.
He also praised Vaughan Toney, president and chief executive officer of the Friends of Crown Heights Educational Center for “A1” service in continuing to offer the center free of charge, as well as to other organizations, for the event, and to “most of all, you, the patrons, who, despite your busy schedule, return each year to support Team SVG [the Penn Relays team].”
For the past six years, only athletes from the Thomas Saunders Secondary School in St. Vincent and the Grenadines have been participating in the Penn Relays.
Cordice said the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Grammar School and the Community College have also expressed interest this year in participating in the Relays Carnival.
“The intent of this Penn Relays Program, which I initiated, is to use sports as a vehicle for the academic enhancement and achievement of Vincentians,” he said, making it clear that no hurdle will prevent him from continuing to pursue his goal.
“So, for those who are uninterested in the advancement of our young people, please stay out of the way,” Cordice warned.
Howie Prince, the newly-appointed New York consul general, told patrons he was very supportive of the Penn Relays effort, adding that he welcomed its advancement.
“The job you’re doing is extremely wonderful,” said the former head of the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO).