Formed just over three years ago, the Brooklyn-based Vincentian group Friends of Sion Hill, Inc. (FOSH) is already making a huge difference in the lives of many in the community in New York and at home in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
“The executives and members continue to make strides toward achieving our organization’s motto, ‘Rebuilding our Community One Life at a Time,’” said Oxley Lowmans, the group’s president, in addressing the Second Annual Dinner and Awards Ceremony, on Sat., April 1, at the Friends of Crown Heights Educational Center in Brooklyn.
“And it is with this in mind that we decided to make this year’s theme ‘One People, One Goal, Working Together for a Greater Good,’” he added. “FOSH members believe that true progress can only be achieved by working together with other groups or individuals.”
Lowmans said this past year “saw the organization participating in events at home and in the Diaspora,” stating that, for the first time last year, the group participated in the Avon Breast Cancer Walk in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, raising and donating $1,200 toward the cause. FOSH hopes to make this an annual feature, he said.
When areas of on mainland St. Vincent were affected by heavy rains last year, Lowmans said FOSH members “readily participated in the relief effort.”
He said FOSH, named after a popular village overlooking capital Kingstown, also provides support to many Vincentian organizations in the United States. The group supported the Brooklyn-based Vincy Cares’ annual fundraising gala, and Standard Shippers and Friends’ Annual Toy Drive and summer Kids Party.
FOSH also contributes financially to the Vincy Day Committee that organizes the annual Vincy Day Picnic at Heckscher State Park in Long Island, Lowmans said.
Additionally, in October 2014, FOSH provided the Sion Hill Euphonium Steel Orchestra with a quantity of T- shirts to help with its Independence celebration and community outreach program, and sponsored trophies for the 2014 local Sion Hill Netball tournament.
Another of the beneficiaries of FOSH’s commitment was the Cathedral of the Assumption, which received US$200 in July 2015 to aid in the replacement of the church’s bell.
In August that same year, Lowmans said FOSH, which is registered with the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, supplied the Lazarus Foundation Vacation program for children in Sion Hill and surrounding communities with a quantity of school supplies and toiletries.
The organization also contributed trophies to the Sion Hill Football [Soccer] League in 2015, aided the funeral fund for Jacqueline Huggins and partnered with the Sion Hill Euphonium Steel Orchestra in distributing food packages to 75 community members.
Lowmans said FOSH has already had two major accomplishments this year: It’s now “a fully registered” New York State 501©3 organization.
“This status would enable us to be more proactive in our community and provide more support to those in need,” said Lowmans, adding that another major accomplishment was the formation of the FOSH SVG [St. Vincent and the Grenadines] sister organization.
“We will work with this organization to identify those areas in need of most urgent assistance,” he added. “We are excited about this collaboration and are looking forward to working along with them for the betterment of our community.”
Looking forward to 2017 and beyond, Lowmans said FOSH hopes to partner with the Department of Education in St. Vincent and the Grenadines in conducting an essay competition for students preparing for secondary schools, and will be open to students in Grades 4 and 5.
“Our aim is to make this an annual event and [to] distribute monetary bursaries and other attractive prizes,” Lowmans said. “We believe that this competition would highlight the writing talents, skills and the imagination of the students.
“As we move forward this year, we will keep our motto in mind, as we identify persons within the Sion Hill area and throughout the island that can benefit from our contributions,” he added. “We will continue to lend our support and share ideas with other Vincentian organizations here and at home. This, by extension, will help to improve the lives of many in need.
“As the theme of this year’s event states, ‘One People, One Goal, Working Together for the Greater Good,’ we must continue to stand in unison for the prosperity of others,” continued Lowman, while applauding the honorees at the Second Annual Dinner and Awards Ceremony: Cyril “Scorcher” Thomas (Lifetime Achievement Award), Lloyd George Hayde (Community Service Award), Sandra Millington (Diaspora Award) and Elka “Granny Tounce” Browne (Longevity Award).