It was a jaw-dropping affair from representatives of the Edward Gartland Youth Centre and United Way Turks and Caicos, when each of the charities was presented with a $40,000 cheque by the Wine Cellar Golf and Fishing Tournament Committee.
The presentation took place Friday, April 21 at the Salt Restaurant at the Blue Haven Resort in Leeward, Providenciales.
“When I was told of the amount, I was just flabbergasted,” declared Roxan Wake-Forbes, Director for the Edward Gartland Youth Centre.
“I am absolutely stunned, pleasantly surprised and stunned,” exclaimed Mark Fulford, Chairman of United Way TCI, whose board treasurer, Snjezana Andrews, reacting in similar fashion.
“We were both really blown away,” Andrews exclaimed. “We are so appreciative of the $40,000. The contributors…the donors, we really want to thank them from the bottom of our hearts, and their funds will go a long way towards our literacy initiatives.”
Desmond Williams, a member of the Wine Cellar Golf and Fishing Tournament Committee told reporters that the event, outside of the COVID-19 disruption, had its 12th consecutive staging last year.
“It was $40,000 to each charity this year, so it is $8,000 that was donated. And that brings the total donation since the inception of the tournament to about $450,000,” Williams declared, explaining that participation grew with each annual staging.
“This $80,000 has been the bigging donations we have made so far. Every year the event actually got bigger and bigger for us, and we are very proud of that,” Williams continued, revealing that from all indications, this year’s tournament should be even bigger and better, noting that the event has been supported by both tourists and locals.
“I think it is a good mix of both. You have people who live in the US come down specifically for his tournament, and we appreciate them. But the local boys also participate, so it is fun bunch…we have fun every year,” Williams said.
In the meantime, Wake-Forbes noted that the administrators of the youth centre have been working tirelessly to satisfy the needs of the community, but it would be impossible without charitable funding.
“…We could not do it without the support of organizations such as the Wine Cellar, Blue Haven…all those that sponsor the event. Also, in terms of our volunteers, our facilitators…it is a community venture that helps us to propel and empower our young people,” she said, point out that the EGYC was in its 15th year of operation.
She pointed out that the EGYC offers programmes for children ages 10 to 18. The programmes include academic, computers literacy, sports and holistic wellbeing.
Wake-Forbes told the media that the EGYC provides a number of programmes geared towards helping young people transition from high school to college, or high school into the workplace.
“We also have programmes that are of personal development, personal growth. And, we believe that what we do at the centre is something fundamental to their growth and to the development of our nation, and community,” she said.
Meanwhile, Fulford stated that it was no secret of the great charitable work that the Wine Cellar Golf and Fishing Tournament does in the community.
“…But to really feel it today has left me with a feeling of overwhelm. I am ever grateful because, here we are after COVID, trying to restart all of our programmes, and most of our programmes, which are geared towards reading. We firmly believe that if you can ensure that children can read at grade levels, then the ills that they find themselves into at a young age – because of that frustration of not being able to read and compete at the level they should be competing in in school - would not be as high.
“And so, while COVID got us knocked down for a bit, to come back in this way, where the programmes are ready to go but the funding was not really there, and to receive this check for $40,000 is just amazing, it’s a God-sent. And so, we are looking to hitting the road again, Fulford stated.
Fulford pointed out that Claudine Ewing, the United Wat CEO, who chaired last Friday’s donation event, recently a women’s Canopies and Conversations –was geared towards having conversations among persons in the community, who can contribute.
“So you had people like judges that were there, attorneys, bankers, insurance (personnel), educators, from all walks of life,” Fulford said, revealed that the men’s version entitled Brothers Breaking Bread Together - Cocktails and Conversation – should be held soon.
He said the aim to cough-up solutions to tackle youth unemployment and crime, in order to build a better Turks and Caicos.