Saint Lu­cians in Florida Cel­e­brate

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

Saint Lu­cia’s 36th In­de­pen­dence an­niver­sary was cel­e­brated in grand style on Satur­day, Fe­bru­ary 21st, 2015 with a Gala hosted by Con­sul Gen­eral of Saint Lu­cia in Miami, Kent Hip­polyte. For the first time this oc­ca­sion united the Con­sulate with three di­as­pora groups in South Florida: The Chil­dren of He­len Al­liance Inc., a four-year-old or­ga­ni­za­tion which fo­cuses on pro­mot­ing ed­u­ca­tional, so­cial and cul­tural in­ter­ac­tion amongst Saint Lu­cians to con­trib­ute to­wards the em­pow­er­ment of peo­ple of St Lu­cian her­itage; the St. Lu­cian Friendly So­ci­ety which serves as a source of crit­i­cal sup­port for Saint Lu­cians at home and abroad with ex­penses as­so­ci­ated with one of the most dif­fi­cult and in­evitable mo­ments of life - the death of loved ones; and the Saint Lu­cia As­so­ci­a­tion of South Florida Inc., the old­est of the groups hav­ing been es­tab­lished al­most twenty nine years ago and whose mission is to col­lab­o­rate with the St. Lu­cia Di­as­pora in Florida, to con­trib­ute, fa­cil­i­tate, and pro­mote so­lu­tions for the en­rich­ment of the lives of cit­i­zens in St. Lu­cia and in Florida. All came to­gether in a fine dis­play of unity and com­mon ground.

The In­de­pen­dence Gala was held at the Sig­na­ture Grand in Davie, Florida with Saint Lu­cia’s Am­bas­sador for Di­as­pora Af­fairs, Dr. June Soomer as the guest speaker. In her speech Am­bas­sador Soomer urged Saint Lu­cians to re­mem­ber Saint Lu­cia’s “coup de main” tra­di­tion and to em­bark on an in­de­pen­dence jour­ney of up­lift­ment, one “about our hu­man­ity; about our love for self, for each other, for our coun­try, for our good earth”.

On Sun­day, Fe­bru­ary 22nd a church ser­vice was held at the St. Bartholomew Catholic Church on Mi­ra­mar Park­way. This was fol­lowed by a brunch where Am­bas­sador Soomer again ad­dressed the Di­as­pora. The Am­bas­sador en­cour­aged Saint Lu­cians to take up the chal­lenge of be­ing in­vestors in their own coun­try. In­vest­ment in Saint Lu­cia, ac­cord­ing to the Am­bas­sador, did not have to come from only rich coun­tries or large com­pa­nies. Ev­ery­day Saint Lu­cians could pool re­sources to­gether in smart, in­no­va­tive ways, raise funds and build pow­er­ful, suc­cess­ful com­pa­nies them­selves to in­vest in their is­land home. She also en­cour­aged Di­as­pora or­ga­ni­za­tions to ex­pand their membership base, par­tic­u­larly among the youth, and un­der­lined the im­por­tance of Saint Lu­cians not be­ing risk averse, ac­tively ex­plor­ing fund rais­ing, risk man­age­ment, fi­nance and in­vest­ment in an ef­fort to be cham­pi­ons of their own devel­op­ment.

A first time united ef­fort, it is hoped that this year’s cel­e­bra­tion of In­de­pen­dence in Florida be­comes a model an­nual event, en­cour­ag­ing to­geth­er­ness, up­lift­ment and progress.

Am­bas­sador Soomer with brightly at­tired guests at

the re­cent In­de­pen­dence Gala in Florida.

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