New York Carib News CEO Recognized as “Visionary Publisher” at SACD Awards

 Last Sunday, June 23rd, 2012 at Saint Francis College in Brooklyn, The Society for the Advancement of Caribbean Diaspora (SACD) held its Annual Awards Luncheon. The theme that the organization aptly chose for this year was “Working together with our Youth.” Among the several recipients that were recognized, New York Carib News’s publisher, Karl B. Rodney, was among the honoree.

This year’s recipients all fit well with SACD’s theme. Aside from selecting Caribbean American youth from the community that have excelled in various aspects of their academic studies; the organization also made room in their theme to celebrate the achievements of distinguished Caribbean Americans.

Minna Hamilton-LaFortune, in a letter to the Mr. Rodney, “The Board of Directors and membership of SACD would like to pay tribute to Mr. Rodney’s achievements and contributions to America and the Caribbean region with our Community Media and Visionary Award.”

Mr. Rodney recognizes that the youth play an important role in sustaining the Caribbean heritage well into the future. As a publisher and CEO of New York Carib News, he strategically dedicates a portion of the newspaper and website to stories that report on youth education and activities in their communities.

In addition, Mr. Rodney has always contributed to the youth of Caribbean Heritage. He chaired the American Foundation at the University of the West Indies since the late 1990s. Now, he chairs the board of the National Newspaper Publishers Association; an organization that helps the White House reward 40 scholarships a year to college-bound African American students.

Carib News’s Fabulous Fathers Program: George Gresham’s Passion for Youth

 This Father’s Day, we celebrated the Dads that have been there for their children, and made a difference in the lives of others. Last Sunday at the Bentley Hotel Penthouse, New York Carib News honored the following fathers and community leaders at their Fabulous Father’s Program: television actor from HBO’s “Oz” and NBC’s “Crossing Jordan”, Leon Robinson; physician and medical director Dr. J. Carl Kenel-Pierre MD; director, writer, composer and choreographer from South Africa, Mbongeni Ngema; President of Tower Isle Foods Ltd, Patrick A. Jolly; basketball hall-of-famer, public speaker, and humanitarian, Thabiti Boone; and George Gresham, the Secretary Treasurer of the 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East.

Among Mr. Gresham’s many contributions, the program coordinator of the Youth Empowerment Project in the Bronx, Andy King talked about how Mr. Gresham’s support and generosity for this 1199 organization positively impacts the community’s young people.

Mr. King states, “I appreciate all that Mr. Gresham does and his passion for young people.” Mr. King also shares the story of how the Youth Empowerment Project started.

“Seven years ago, we invited the young people between the ages 13 and 21 from the Bronx to get involved in a campaign for the Fernando Ferrer,” the 2001 candidate for the New York City mayoral campaign. Mr. King continues, “The youth involved worked with the community to address the political and economic issues. Even when the campaign was over, they were so inspired by the experience, they wanted to do more.” 

The interest from young members of the campaign and their commitment that led Mr. King and one of his partners, Vicky Owens, the Vice President of the 1199 Retirees Division, to create the Youth Empowerment Project.

Since its beginnings in 2004, YEP has been showing young individuals how to be successful individuals. The organization’s slogan reads “Building body, mind and community.” Mr. King discusses how each component is essential in a young adult’s development.

“Body: our youth learns about what they need in order to take care of themselves by having conversations about health care with medical professionals.

“Mind: Developing a mind-set that will help you make better decisions, prepares you to deal with life changes.

“Community: Our youth members sit in on communication board meetings; Community Educational Council (CEC) meetings; and rallies that focus on issues that affect them. This includes youth crime, or education cuts made by Albany.”

In addition, YEP provides young adults with information and help to properly deal with the negatives in their lives, whether it is the influence of gangs in their neighborhoods or peer pressure. YEP also provides young people within their neighborhood the opportunities to work with the senior community and the disabled. George Gresham, who has also been a close acquaintance of Mr. King’s for years, saw an opportunity to expand this organization’s influence.

“Working as one of President Obama’s campaign leaders in Philadelphia, Mr. Gresham and I were invited to a special event with the president,” explained Mr. King. “Here, talked about giving the young people at YEP an opportunity to see Washington D.C.” This resulted in a trip to the nation capital, organized by YEP, with a bus and lunch provided by Mr. Gresham.

For the last three years, Mr. Gresham invited YEP’s youth to the Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus in Albany, NY. The gratitude from both the organization and the youth is rewarding. Mr. King claims that for some, these experiences changed their lives.

As a whole, with Mr. Gresham’s support, the youth that were a part of YEP have gained positive experience and knowledge that would help them better themselves. According to Mr. King, those who have benefited the most from YEP have experienced an improvement in self confidence; an increase in self-discipline; overcoming their shyness; and a developed sense of commitment towards achieving their dreams, like studying more or studying smarter in order to get into college.

Mr. King also recalls a comment that the Superintendent of District 88 at the NYC Department of Education, Anthony Orzo, once made at a Community Education Council. According to Mr. King, Orzo said, “When we have a community problem, we turn to YEP.”

Aside from Orzo, Mr. and Mrs. Rodney, who were just rewarded President Obama’s Volunteer Service Award, also value this organization. Mr. Rodney says:

“George Gresham sees the value of a strong community as one of the best ways to raise the quality of life for all its members. He is very committed and determined in that endeavor.”

Carib News’s First Mother of the Year, Estelle Dubuisson Helps Alleviate Child Hunger in Haiti

 Earlier this month, I went to New York City’s Jamaican restaurant, Negril Village where New York Carib News held its 27th Annual Mother of the Year Recognition Program. Here, I had the pleasure of meeting and learning about business women that are both mothers to their own children and communities.

This year’s honorees included Verona Greenland, president and CEO of Morris Heights Health Center; Dr. Michena Brooks, general podiatrist at Family Medical Practice in Brooklyn; Jeanette HoSang, owner of Royal Caribbean; Flossie Salmon; Linda Jefferson, First Lady of the Metropolitan Baptist Church; and actress, Sheryl-Lee Ralph. I however, sat down with Estelle Dubuisson, the 1985 Mother of the Year – the first woman to ever receive this honor.

Estelle is president of the organization, Friends of the Children of Lascahobas, Haiti. Although she was first honored for her efforts 27 years ago; the Caribbean American community continues to recognize Estelle as a mother in the lives of so many.

Estelle founded her organization back in 1976, right after returning from her visit to her childhood town, Lascahobas. This visit helped Estelle discover her inner desire to help those in need. She says:

“I went to Lascahobas to help my mother rebuild her house. When I got there I heard of a woman that went into labor but didn’t have the money to go to the hospital.” As a result, this woman died of childbirth. This news left an alarming and lasting impression on Estelle. She also learned how the poverty in Lascahobas indirectly contributed to children’s premature deaths.

“I heard of 4 children in my mother’s neighborhood that died in one day. I asked her what had happened, and she was told that their deaths were a result of a 3-day fever and diarrhea.”

When she returned to New York, Estelle shared these stories with her doctor. Together, they developed the idea for an organization that would help alleviate child hunger and suffering.

In 1982, just two years after the company was officially recognized as a charitable organization under section 501©(3), Friends of the Children of Lascahobas, Haiti opened a childcare center that fed 95 children one meal a day, five days a week. In 1983, the organization registered 35 children in local schools. Those that were 6 years of age went to day school, and those between 9 and 12 years old were placed in an evening school.  

In 1998, Estelle along with her organization achieved what she feels is the “greatest accomplishment” – building a hospital that has been recognized by the health department of Haiti.

In 2001, Estelle thought of an initiative that could help mothers and children in Lascahobas – the Cooperative Economic Group Project. According to the organization’s website, each woman in this program receives a sum of money to purchase goods for resale and uses the profits to feed and educate her children and continue her business.

The Cooperative Economic Group Project ultimately helps mothers develop reliable income. Today, 31 groups of women are supporting their children and business through this program; 10 groups have already completed this program and become eligible for credit union loans.

Along with the 2012 honorees at the 27th Annual Mother’s Day Recognition Program, Estelle Dubuisson was still celebrated as a mother to the communities she serves. Mr. Rodney says:

“Her commitment to children represents the kind of project we at New York Carib News embrace. The help she offers is direct and concrete.”

In my eyes, Estelle’s greatest achievement perhaps, one that only a few individuals I know can attain, involves helping mothers in Haiti support both themselves and their children. Estelle also recognizes that she could have never accomplished what she did without the help from all those in New York’s Caribbean American community, especially Mr. and Mrs. Rodney.