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Groups install new execs

Tony Best

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As the United States election season heats up with eyes fixed on the Republican presidential primaries, supporters of Barbados’ two major parties in New York have different agendas.
True, they are interested in the merits of Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, who want to be the Republican standard-bearer against President Barack Obama, the incumbent Democratic president, on November 6.
But Bajan immigrants who back either the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) or the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) are concentrating on something else: how to generate support for their party while extending the reach of the organizations in the city.
That explains why a week ago A Better Life For Our People, the BLP arm in New York, and Friends Of Barbados DLP Association, the 25-year-old branch of the ruling party, used the recent elections of their executives to make their presence felt.
And what better way to achieve that goal than to attend a church service and have a prominent person officially install the officers.
For Our People opted to worship at St Mark’s Episcopal Church – one of the most prosperous Episcopal churches in the United States – where the Reverend Dr Peter Bramble is rector, the Friends Of Barbados worshipped at St Alban’s Episcopal Church, a flourishing parish in the Canarsie section of Brooklyn headed by Canon George Bonner.
Incidentally, both Bramble and Bonner are graduates of Barbados’ Codrington College.
In his sermon, Bramble preached about the virtues of leaders who were willing to accept advice from their folllowers. He complained about heads of organizations, churches and countries who believed and acted as if they had all the answers.
“That’s not how it should be,” he said.
The BLP New York group, whose chairman is Samuel Clarke, an international security consultant, is less than a decade old and its officers were sworn in by the Canon Dr Llewellyn Armstrong, a retired Anglican and Episcopal priest who told the large Caribbean congregation that the group’s mission was to serve as a “resettling conduit” for Barbadians while seeking to enrich and empower immigrants.
For his part, Clarke said they were committed to working with children and young adults in the areas of education and overall development, while being “active politically” as a support group for the Opposition BLP.
Jessica Odle-Baril, a former Barbados Consul General in New York and the organization’s public relations officer, said they were “interested in ensuring that newly arrived immigrants and others from Barbados [had] an easier settling experience in the US”.
The other BLP officers are Jerry Corbin, vice-chairman; Haldene Wiltshire, second vice-chairman; Dian Duke, secretary; Calvin Beckles, treasurer; and Winston Gilkes, assistant secretary/treasurer.
About 20 minutes’ drive from St Mark’s, Justice Sylvia Hinds-Radix, chief administrative of Brooklyn’s Civil Court system, conducted the official installation ceremony at St Alban’s.
The officers of the Friends Of Barbados DLP Association are Heather Stuart, president; Pauline Clarke, vice-president; Marva Lewis, secretary; Annette Alleyne-Merritt, sssistant secretary; and Judith Taylor, treasurer.  
In addition, Reuben Best is the chaplain while Sylvia Millington-Mayers, Wilma Callender and Greg Clarke are members of the board of directors.
Before administering the oaths of office, Hinds-Radix reminded the officers they should be faithful to the association’s constitution.
Friends Of Barbados DLP Association is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a dinner at El Caribe on February 19.
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart is expected to attend.