Vincy ex-teachers honor community activist

Garnes Byron (fourth from left) receives plaque from SVG Ex-Teachers Association of New York,Inc, flanked by Byron’s wife, Kerry-Ann (to his right). Others in photo, from left: Consul General to the US, Howie Prince; Laverne McDowald-Thompson, COSAGO president; Al Phillips, SVG Ex-Teachers Association of New York, Inc. executive; and Jackson Farrell, president of the SVG Ex-Teachers Association of New York, Inc.
Photo by Nelson A. King

The Brooklyn-based St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ex-Teachers Association of New York, Inc. on Sunday, jan 19 honored ardent Vincentian community activist Garnes Byron at the group’s annual gala luncheon at Grand Prospect Hall in Brooklyn.

Byron was the lone honoree during the ceremony that also marked the association’s 37th anniversary and the commemoration of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday.

“To our honoree, Garnes Byron, you are one of the pillars of our community,” said Jackson Farrell, president of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ex-Teachers Association of New York, Inc. “You seem to be everywhere and everything, as events that affect us here in the Diaspora or in SVG unfold.

“Thanks for everything you do in general and for Ex-Teachers in particular,” he added. “Sometimes, these accolades get to our heads, and it changes behavior. A measure of a man or woman is accepting this and more while continuing to be positive. You are that man. Congratulations, you deserve this.”

Laverne McDowald-Thompson, president of the Brooklyn-based Vincentian umbrella organization in the US, Council of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Organizations, U.S.A., Inc. (COSAGO), said she was “especially pleased to give my most heartfelt blessings and congratulations to your honoree, Mr. Garnes Byron.

“You are a pillar of the community,” McDowald-Thompson also said of Byron. “Your continuous good deeds and your tireless efforts in serving your community is truly honorable.”

In accepting the award, Byron said: “This world is a better place because of you teachers.

“Your commitment, dedication and determination to train and mold young minds to be agents of change and critical thinkers are profoundly exceptional,” he said. “I am proud of you and your profession.

“Even though some of you have retired, the old saying still holds true, ‘Once a teacher always a teacher,’” he added. “You have changed lives, developed villages and communities. You have built our nation and, by extension, you are building this country we have adopted as our home.

“You’ve been and still are role models and mentors for many you have taught,” Byron continued. “Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your consideration and thoughtfulness in choosing me for this award.”

Byron said he has committed himself “to be patriotic and to support in the building and rebuilding process of SVG (St. Vincent and the Grenadines) where ever I can.

“The talent, gifts, abilities and resources the good God has blessed me with, I have determined to share and serve unselfishly with you or any other organization in pursuit of helping SVG and our people,” he said. “I respectfully thank you again for this award, and may God Almighty continue to bless and proper the SVG Ex-Teachers Association.”

Byron, who was born in the town of Calliaqua in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, studied civil engineering at New York City Technical College and The City College of New York, both colleges at the City University of New York (CUNY).

Bryon is currently employed by the midtown Manhattan architectural firm of Kohn Pedersen Fox, PC.

He is a member of the Brooklyn-based St. Vincent and the Grenadines Diaspora Committee, St. Vincent and the Grenadines Relief Committee of New York and Vincy Day USA Committee.

He is also an executive member of the Brooklyn-based Dynamites Calypso Tent of New York.

Byron is one of the founding members of the Brooklyn-based Calliaqua United Diaspora Organization and The Vincy Foreign Based entertainment group, and was public relations officer of the Brooklyn-based Friends of Argyle International Airport USA.

In 2018, Byron was honored by Bridget Blucher Ministries (BBM) for his contribution to the Vincentian Community.

That same year, Caribbean Life bestowed its Impact Award on him in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the Caribbean American Community.

In 2016, the Brooklyn-based Vincentian American Independent National Charities (VINCI), at its annual celebration, at El Caribe Country Club in Brooklyn, honored Byron for his contributions to the Vincentian community in New York and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

At that event, Jamaican-born Assemblyman Nick Perry, representative for the 58th Assembly District in Brooklyn, presented Bryon with a New York State Assembly Citation, and Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, presented to him a Congressional Citation for his “outstanding and invaluable service to the community.”

In 2013, Byron was honored by COSAGO for his outstanding contributions and service to the Vincentian community.

A year later, the Brooklyn-based Vincy Cares, also honored Byron for his “selfless contribution to the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”

An undisputed community-spirited individual, Byron can be seen at various Vincentian functions rendering his support in one form or the other.

At the commemoration, the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ex-Teachers Association of New York, Inc. also presented a special plaque to long-standing supporter and “Best Dressed Man” Stanley Stephens.

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