Three Brooklyn-based, Vincentian-born sisters recently collaborated with James Cordice, the architect behind St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ participation in the illustrious Penn Relays in Philadelphia, and the umbrella Vincentian group in the United States in hosting what they described as a very successful fundraising Prayer Breakfast in aid of Vincentian athletes competing in the annual relay carnival.
“Many Vincentian and Caribbean natives enjoyed a beautiful day of worship, singing, meeting new and old friends, while enjoying a mouth-watering breakfast, which they haven’t had in a long time, with local foods from St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Yvette Deshong, one of the three sisters, known as the “Friends of COSAGO,” the umbrella group, told Caribbean Life about the event, which took place at the Friends of Crown Heights Educational Center in Brooklyn.
COSAGO is the acronym for Council of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Organizations, U.S.A., Inc. The other sisters are Evelyn and Rosita Deshong.
The Deshong sisters, along with their compatriot Claudette Thomas-Butler, have been coordinating the Prayer Breakfast for the past five years. Thomas-Butler did not participate this year.
“The breakfast was great,” Yvette Deshong said. “Everyone, who came out to support the event, said they enjoyed everything about it. It was great to see the support we got for the kids for the Penn Relays team. I’m proud to be part of it.
“Most of all, we met three past athletes from the Penn Relay games,” continued Deshong about the athletes – Zenron Chance, Kilon Kirby and Rodgike Thorpe – who are current students at Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn. “They informed us that participating in the games helped them to shine to their full potential.
“They also said that they learned how to give back to their community, because a very large community has helped them by supporting the fundraising breakfast,” she continued.
Deshong said patrons feasted on, among other things coconut dumpling, roast breadfruit, stewed pork, boiled and fried plantain, blackfish, rice and peas, ham, smoked herring, saltfish cake, turkey sausage, bakes and boiled provisions. They washed them down with ginger and sorrel beers, and mauby.
In her message, Dr. Roxie Irish, a youth minister at the Miracle Temple Ministries in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, challenged patrons to “REST in the Lord, because we already know the outcome; ENGAGE God in your circumstances, because He is more than able; LEARN who God is, because he is excellent, competent, all-powerful; and YIELD to God’s Lordship, because He requires it.”
“The acronym is RELY,” said Dr. Irish, who also heads the United Vincie Cultural Group of Brooklyn. “When we REST in God, ENGAGE Him in our circumstances, LEARN who He really is, and YIELD to His Lordship, it is so easy to have absolute trust in our excellent, competent God who is more than able.”
The Philadelphia-based Cordice, a former president of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Organization of Pennsylvania, said he was very pleased with the fundraising event.
“It was great!” said exclaimed, who trekked from Philadelphia to participate in the fundraiser. “The food was tantalizing – lots of love went into the preparation. Special thanks to the sisters; to all who contributed; to Dr. Irish, who was phenomenal; to the Friends of Crown Heights; and, most all, our patrons – they really supported Team SVG [St. Vincent and the Grenadines] – bigger and better every year.
“The funds from this breakfast will go a long way in the funding of the 2018 Team SVG at the Penn relays,” added Cordice, who, in 2011 – as an executive in the Philadelphia arm of Team Jamaica Bickle, the organization that provides meals and accommodation for Jamaican and Caribbean athletes at the Penn Relays – began spearheading the initiative in bringing Vincentian athletes to the prestigious games at the Franklin Field Stadium at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
“There are sparks of positive energy coming from the Penn Relays, such as children wanting to run; children getting better grades, because, to participate in the Penn Relays, their grades must be acceptable to the faculty of that high school; children getting to explore the possibility of visiting colleges and universities in the USA,” he continued.
“We continue to seek assistance and support from the public,” Cordice said. “All I ask is that you allow the program to work the way it was meant to: ‘Using sports as a vehicle for the academic enhancement if our student athletes.’”
Cordice’s initiative has sparked the interest of others. Over the summer, he traveled to Belize to work with “The Hope Run Project,” founded by Kyle Castilo, a University of the West Indies student from that Caribbean Community (CARICOM)-member country, to assist in the re-establishment of a “running culture “in Belize.
“We presented a 5K-run to kick off the awareness and encourage the use of sports as an academic vehicle,” he said. “It worked well and, to date, we have a high school that is interesting and preparing for a shot at competing in Penn Relays 2018.”
In August, while on a “pilgrimage” in Yurumein [the Garifuna name for St. Vincent and the Grenadines], Cordice — the only Vincentian-born Garifuna among 60 other Garifuna — said he delivered soccer and track shoes, and uniforms to three institutions, on behalf of Team SVG International, the group that he recently found to assist Vincentian athletes at the Penn Relays.
“I am asking that you support our Sports Gears Drive in order to allow our athletes in SVG to be more competitive and safe while on their athletic journey,” he said.