The Trinidad and Tobago Alliance (North America), Inc. on Sunday, Nov. 24 honored five outstanding individuals during its 43rd Annual Scholarship Awards Luncheon at El Caribe Country Club on Strickland Avenue in Brooklyn.
The Alliance, an amalgamation of 10 Trinidad and Tobago groups in the New York Diaspora, presented the Lifetime Achievement Award posthumously to Rudolph L. Legendre; the Community Service Award to Nadine M. Finigan-Carr, Ph. D; Healthcare Award to Registered Nurse Thecla Williams and Dr. Rhonda Cambridge-Phillip; and the Humanitarian Award to Dr. Keleene V. Tuitt.
“This is when we come together and pay tribute to our own,” said Alliance president Dr. Carol Wilson-Smith in her opening remarks at the gala event. “We recognize our heroes and sheroes.
“The Trinidad and Tobago Alliance was formed 49 years ago,” he added. “Next year, we’ll be having bigger, better, bolder and much more fun.”
Legendre’s grand-daughter, Mariama, accepted the award on behalf of her late grand-father, who transitioned on Sept. 11.
The son of Norah and Charlie Legendre, Legendre was born on Sept. 29, 1929, in Tunapuna, Trinidad and Tobago.
He received his early education and began his career, as a furniture maker, also in Tunapuna, before enlisting as a firefighter in the Trinidad and Tobago Fire Services.
In 1969, Legendre and his wife, the former Wilma Archer, relocated to Brooklyn in search of a better life for their family.
He resorted to his first career, carpentry, then worked as a private taxi driver until his retirement.
Legendre was described as “a great debater and organizer,” who was “always willing to offer advice and render his services for the betterment of the organizations he served, including the charitable event he instituted and oversaw in Tunapuna,” according to his biography.
At the time of his death, Legendre was an active member of Trinidad and Tobago Ex-Firemen and Associates and second vice president of Trinidad and Tobago Alliance (NA), Inc.
He was also an active member of Brooklyn Fight Back Association and Hawks International, once leading organizations in the community. He enjoyed playing the bass instrument.
“Rudolph Legendre has left a heartfelt legacy for his children, grandchildren and hosts of other relatives and friends,” his biography states. “He will be sorely missed.”
Dr. Finigan-Carr is a prevention research scientist focused on the application of behavioral and social science perspectives to research on contemporary health problems, especially those that disproportionately affect people of color.
She is a nationally-recognized expert on human trafficking and sexual exploitation.
Currently, Dr. Finigan-Carr is a Research Associate Professor and the Assistant Director of the Ruth Young Center for Families and Children at the University of Maryland’s School of Social Work, where she leads the Prevention of Adolescent Risk initiative.
“This is a treat,” said Dr. Finigan-Carr in receiving the award. “It’s an honor to get this award from my own people.”
Registered Nurse Williams, who was born in Belmont, Port-of-Spain, the Trinidad and Tobago capital, is the vice president of the Trinidad and Tobago Nurses Association of America, Inc.
Williams also served as assistant secretary, public relations officer and chairperson of the nursing association’s Education Committee.
She began working as a Home Care Coordinator of the Visiting Nurses Services of New York, based at Kings County Hospital, while obtaining her Bachelor of Nursing at St. Francis College in Brooklyn.
“Ms. Williams’s trajectory as a nurse is not about accolades or titles but for the love of patient care and passing on knowledge,” her biography says.
“While working at hospitals, she has always been a preceptor, even at Woodhull Hospital, where she is currently working,” it adds.
After receiving the award, Williams said she was heading to John F. Kennedy International Airport to travel to Trinidad and Tobago for the funeral service Wednesday of her mother.
“I’m overwhelmed right now with gratitude,” she said, holding back tears. “I just want to thank everybody who came out to support me – my three children.
“My mother, she’s looking down and is very proud of me,” she added. “I’m very proud of nursing. I will be nursing until I die.”
Dr. Tuitt is a board-certified family medicine physician, Amazon best-selling author of “Be Irie: A Caribbean Handbook to Develop Healthy Habits”, and creator of “Irie Vitamins,” a natural nutritional supplement line.
She has a a bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences from Carnegie Mellon University, a Master of Biomedical Sciences and Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.
Dr. Tuitt completed her family medicine residency at Inspira Medical Center in New Jersey.
She has been in practice for over eight years and has taught medical students over the years as an Associate Clinical Professor at the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine.
Dr. Tuitt has completed several medical mission trips to the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Senegal in West Africa.
Currently, she serves as the medical director of an underserved community in South Carolina.
Through her experience in working with rural populations, she said she has partnered with various community programs to provide the best care possible “where others thought infrastructure and financial discourse would be obstacles.”
Dr. Tuitt said she has a passion for bringing the latest in technological advancements to underserved areas both in America and internationally.
This has led to the development of her own concierge and telemedicine company, My Caribbean Doctor, P.C.
“My goal for each and everyone is to invest in your health, because your health is your wealth,” she in receiving the award. “You want to travel and see your children grow up.”
Dr. Cambridge-Phillip is an attending physician in the Department of Pediatrics at Kings County Hospital Center in Brooklyn.
She is a board-certified licensed pediatrician with subspecialty certification in the field of adolescent medicine.
Dr. Cambridge-Phillip holds a master’s degree in public health and is a certified holistic health coach, who focuses on nutrition and how it affects overall well-being. She has been a physician for 20 years.
Dr. Cambridge-Phillip received her Bachelor of Science degree from the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education at the City College of New York and her medical degree (MD) from New York Medical College.
She received her public health degree from SUNY Downstate School of Public Health and her holistic health certification from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition.
Dr. Cambridge-Phillip’s specific areas of interest include reproductive health, nutrition services as a form of preventative medicine, and community outreach/education services targeted to youth and adults alike.
Dr. Cambridge-Phillip, who was a recipient of the Alliance’s Scholarship Awards, urged the six awardees: “Keep going, don’t give up. Keep your eyes on the prize.”