The president of the Brooklyn-based Vincentian group Friends of Sion Hill, Inc., enthusiastically proclaimed the organization’s theme, “Empowering our community through service” at its third annual black tie dinner, held at the Friends of Crown Heights Educational Center.
At the gala, Oxley Lowmans reeled off a long list of Friends of Sion Hill’s accomplishments since it was formed three years ago, saying the group “continues to strive to live out our motto, ‘Rebuilding Our Community One Life at a Time.’”
This year’s theme, he said, is meant “to encourage our organization to continue to make positive contributions toward the development our community.”
In 2017, Lowmans noted that Friends of Sion Hill continues to contribute to and participate in many charitable events. He said one of the key goals is to provide scholarships to students from the Sion Hill Community in St. Vincent and the Grenadines by assisting with “necessary resources to attend a secondary school.”
“We are pleased to say that we have realized that goal,” he said.
Last summer, Lowmans said many members were on hand to witness the presentation of the first two five-year scholarships to “lucky students.” The scholarships were awarded to Kiara Baptiste and Reanna Jackson, students at the Sion Hill Government School — an elementary school in St. Vincent and the Grenadines — who were successful at the Caribbean Primary Exit Assessment examination and have gained entrance to the Thomas Saunders Secondary School in Kingstown, the Vincentian capital.
Lowmans said each student will receive EC$800.
In addition, Lowmans said, two other students, Ronique Gibson and Ronnia Davis, were presented with one-time bursaries of EC$200. each.
“Being on hand to personally make these presentations was a very fulfilling and rewarding experience,” he said. “This act can help build a foundation that could lead one of them to ‘rebuild their community.’”
While in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Lowmans said, members of the Brooklyn group interacted with local affiliate members, spent a day touring the Sion Hill Community that overlooks Kingstown and greeted villagers.
“This helped us to see the needs of our community firsthand, which will assist us to develop a more targeted approach to charitable contributions,” he said.
Lowmans said Friends of Sion Hill, FOSH SVG (Friends of Sion Hill St. Vincent and the Grenadines), in conjunction with Sion Hill Sports Club and the Sion Hill Euphonium Steel Orchestra, “were able to work in partnership on the annual Christmas food basket distribution.”
He said the collaboration “enabled us to put together 150 food bags that were given to residents of the community.”
Lowmans said the organizations have pledged to continue this charity event, hoping to expand to other communities in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The group’s president said the organization has already supported the broader community by donating running shoes to athletes at the St. Vincent Grammar School and the Thomas Saunders Secondary School, who participate in the annual Penn Relays Carnival at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
In addition, Lowmans said, Friends of Sion Hill donated food and clothing to Dominica, which was ravaged by Hurricane Maria last September.
He said the group “have and will continue to support” many Vincentian organizations, such as the Brooklyn-based groups Girls High School Alumni; Garifuna Indigenous People of St. Vincent and the Grenadines; Council of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Organizations, U.S.A., Inc. (COSAGO); Standard Shippers; and VincyCares “in their various events throughout the year.”
“Additionally, our participation in the American Cancer Society Cancer Walk has become a staple on our yearly calendar, where all the proceeds earned are donated directly to the Cancer society,” Lowmans said.
“We are a growing organization; and, like any organizations, we have faced our share of challenges,” he added. “However, it has made us stronger individually and as a group.
“We are dedicated toward making a difference and living out our motto,” Lowmans continued. “As our organization grows, with proper planning and resources, we will continue to contribute to the development and rebuilding of our community.”
He said this can only be achieved “through hard work by our members and by continued support from you, our loyal patrons.”