June 23, 2006 – In a room filled with laughter, a few tears and the hopes and dreams of a community, approximately 100 residents from across the territory gathered at the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands' 10th annual meeting to talk about how much the organization has grown over the past decade.
The event, held Friday at the Marriott Frenchman's Reef Resort also featured various student performances, and honored the accomplishments of 45 students from across the territory.
Marie Thomas Griffith, the Foundation's Scholarship Committee chairwoman, said that CFVI's scholarship awards have continued to grow — "due in large part to the generosity of members of our community who have decided to set up funds that grant scholarships year after year."
"Last year, CFVI awarded scholarships to 43 Virgin Islands students for a total value of more than $70,000," she said. "And this year, 45 scholarships are being announced for a total of almost $80,000."
Griffith said that more than 100 students applied for scholarships this year, forcing CFVI to "find additional scholarships to award."
She said the Foundation would also be creating a CFVI Scholarship Alumni Association that would allow past scholarship recipients to "showcase their successes" and "reach back to help younger Virgin Islands students."
One such CFVI alumni, Tiphanie Yanique Galiber Gundel, "showcased her success" by reading a brief excerpt from her upcoming book, titled "Land of Love and Drowning." The passage was filled with unique images of a territory emerging from the bonds of slavery and World War II, and incorporated real accounts of V.I. history.
"I did a lot of research for this book," Gundel said. "And part of that process was talking to several of the older members of our community and picking their brains about what they remembered about the Virgin Islands during those times."
After the meeting, Gundel, the 2006 winner of the Boston Review Fiction Prize and a creative writing teacher in Houston, called the book "intergenerational," because it follows the progress of one family from the early 1900s to the present day.
"It also shows how the V.I. has changed both politically and culturally over the years," she said.
An essay written and read by Joshua Jno Pierre – the first prize-winner in this year's Laws of Life Essay Contest – was also well-received by the audience. Recounting a humorous tale about a babysitting trip gone awry, Jno Pierre put forth a poignant message by stating that having children at a young age requires a large amount of responsibility.
"I lost my nephew at the mall," he said. "And when I found him, I was so relieved. But it also made me realize that I wasn't ready to have children. And I realized that in order to take care of a child, a man needs to have responsibility – much more responsibility than I have today."
The Laws of Life Program, established through funding provided by Patricia and Peter Gruber, is conducted throughout the territory's public high schools. Hank Feuerzeig, CFVI member, said this is the first year the program has touched all three islands.
Other CFVI accomplishments were touted during Friday's meeting, including the fact that the organization has added 10 new funds over the past 12 months – bringing the total number of named funds up to 80.
Ricardo J. Charaf, CFVI Board chairman, said the organization has given more than $1 million to the community in grants, scholarships and services for the second consecutive year. "For the first half of 2006, the Foundation has continued with this level of giving, so we expect to announce another million dollar year of giving at the next meeting," Charaf said. "And to date, the Foundation has provided more than $4 million in services to the USVI."
Charaf also talked about the Family Connection – a new CFVI center that will open in September at Vitraco Park Mall on St. Thomas. He explained that the Connection "is the real beginning" of CFVI's work to improve the quality of early childhood care for children throughout the territory.
Dee Baecher-Brown, CFVI president, added to Charaf's remarks by discussing three of the organization's newest funds – the V.I. Public School Junior Golf Fund (under the leadership of Jim Tunick and Bill Lambert), which will support golf programs for public school students; the Children's Trust of the V.I., which will provide funding to support child advocacy programs throughout the territory; and the Hodge Family's Senior Citizens Fund, which will benefit senior citizens.
"It's really been a wonderful year," Baecher-Brown said at the end of the meeting.
The 2006 Scholarship Recipients are:
ISS Summer Enrichment:
Anna Greene Walsh Scholars:
Brandon Gregory Aird
Yanka De Aza
Nisha N. Sylvester
Anita L. Etienne
Coral World Scholarship:
USVI Education & Assistance:
Dennis A. Powell III
Janel D. Webster
Gyasi E. Hodge
Tessa M. Richardson
Lano Vento Fund for Youth:
Keith L. Abraham
Samuel R. Morris
Joann A. Thomas
Ebony C. Petersen
Isaac and Rebecca Paiewonsky:
Tromoui A. Malone
Tunick Family Fund Scholarship:
Peter Gruber Foundation Fund:
Aisha K. Gomez
Charaf Family Scholarships:
Zahur N. Anthony
Laverne K. Francis
Drury Fund Scholarships:
Amberky C. Lynch
Crystal Diana Thomas
Artrelle M. Wheatley Scholarship:
Jacinda A. Palmer
Driehaus Capital Management, USVI:
Tamara A. Simon
Alexander A. Farrelly Milestone:
Megan Alexis Livisay
McBride Family Scholarship:
Miller Properties Scholarship:
William Otto and Shari Decker Music Fund:
Theodore E. Sharp Fund:
Dynyce C. Boyce
Charaf and Grisham Families:
NSL 80th Birthday Fund:
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