There was a lot to celebrate Friday at the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands’ annual meeting, which, according to the official counts, marked a record year of giving for the organization.
Since its inception, CFVI has given nearly $10 million to the community, and, according to foundation board chairman Ricardo Charaf, is poised to make it through another year. The foundation’s Angels program provides the basic support for all grants and funds and this year, the campaign surpassed its $450,000 goal, he said.
Adding to the list of accomplishments, Charaf said the foundation gave away more than $1.7 million in grants, scholarships and services to the community since this time last June — the largest amount ever given away in one year. And the list of scholarship recipients alone, between both districts, boasted an impressive collective of 90 students, who were awarded Friday more than $250,000 in total.
CFVI scholarship committee chairwoman Marie Thomas-Griffith said the foundation has also included five new scholarships this year — a mix of graduate and undergraduate awards supporting students studying everything from medicine to journalism.
"And any day we get to recognize the talent and academic accomplishments of our students is a day for us to dance and celebrate," she added before the presentations began.
And dance and celebrate they did to the tunes of Jazz Lake, a quartet of young men from Charlotte Amalie High School who wowed the 200 or so audience members with flawless performances on sax, bass and trumpet, and then climbed up on the stage later with the rest of the students to accept their own awards, which will be put toward college or summer programs.
Among the group, recent CAHS graduates Jonte Samuel, Malachi Thomas and Kai Richardson plan on attending top music schools: Berklee College of Music, Oberlin University and the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, respectively. Meanwhile, the fourth member of the group and upcoming CAHS junior Tabari Lake will be heading off this summer to the highly regarded Interlochen Summer Arts Camp’s High School Jazz Summer Program in Michigan.
The quartet has been together for about two years now, and while they’ll all be going their separate ways soon — until winter break, at least — they all said they will be taking with them the experiences and life lessons they’ve learned from one another.
"Being in a group with people as close as we are, it’s given us a chance to really feed off each other, share ideas and experiences, and that’s a once in a lifetime thing," Thomas, one of the winners of a four-year Heavy Materials Scholarship, said after the meeting.
Samuel was the 2010 recipient of the Isaac and Rebecca Paiewonsky Scholarship, while Richardson was selected this year for the William Otto & Shari Decker Music Scholarship, and Lake for a Windward Capital Summer Scholarship.
Also highlighting this year’s meeting program were the students of Gladys Abraham Elementary School, whose music department were able to buy seven West African drums with a grant from CFVI. Led by teacher Dara Monifah Cooper, the students — well known for their annual Christmas and traditional songs CDs — hit all the right notes as they showed off their new skills to the crowd.
This year’s meeting also included updates from:
- Alda Monsanto, CFVI board member and chair of the organization’s Governance Committee, who announced that four CFVI board members had — Pamela Berkowsky, Vivek Daswani, Betty Saks and Thomas-Griffith — had agreed to serve an additional three-year term on the Foundation’s Board. Monsanto also announced the foundation’s list of officers for the upcoming year, including Charaf as chairman, Monsanto as first-vice chair, Trudie Prior as second vice-chair, Vicki Saunders as secretary and George H.T. Dudley as treasurer.
- Ellie Hirsh, head of CFVI’s The Family Connection, an initiative supporting the development of early childhood education programs, who highlighted the major points of this year’s Kids Count Data Book, which she said shows a decreasing local population of children and increased number of single parent households; and
- Dee Baecher-Brown, CFVI’s president, who gave a rundown of the foundation’s longest running and newest initiatives, including 14 years of scholarship awards, 11 years of providing emergency grants to local families, 10 years of producing the Kids Count Data Book and 10 years of the Laws of Life essay contest, among others.
This year’s scholarship recipients are:
- A9 and V.I. Recycling Inc. Scholarships: Dylan Jobsis-Rossignol and Lynisha Farrell
- Alexander A. Farrelly Scholarship: Anika Rabsatt
- Anna Greene Walsh Scholar Awards: LaDia Carrington, Jahdel Jules, Leah Loving, Lisa Lucien, Bianca Matthew, Genecia Whyte, Tyler Rice and Angelo Galiber II
- Artrelle M. Wheatley Scholarship: Charnele Burton
- Barry Law Enforcement Scholarship: Delano Penha Jr.
- Charaf Family Scholarships: Sharee Miller and Bianca Moscia-Harley
- Coral World Scholarship: Jan-Alexis Barry
- Government Employees’ Retirement System Scholarship: Addis Elliot and Duvante Vegas
- Isaac and Rebecca Paiewonsky Scholarships: Jonte Samuel (2010); Nneka Byron (2009); Anishka Davis (2008); and Leana Callwood (2007)
- Lana Vento Fund Scholarship: Meihua Fang, Gemel Joseph, Haba Royer and Alexa Putnam
- McBride Family Scholarship: Akeema Edwards
- Heavy Materials Scholarships 2010: Geminie Callwood, Jherome Dias, Ashlee Douglas, Vincenzo Farchette, Nicholas Henry Jr., Deryk Joseph, Shelsa Marcel, Christin Marsh, Kala Moore, Anika Morris, Malcolm Stephen, Daniel Turbe, Malachi Thomas, Jelani Williams and Jennah-Li Jackson
- Nigel O. Hodge Foundation Fund Scholarship: Hannah Charles
- Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation Scholarship: Darnell Little
- Richard Noel Allen Scholarship: Haley Allick and Kandace Mitchell
- Standard Pacific Capital Holdings Scholarships: Quianna Christian
- Theodore E. Sharp Scholar Award: Emmanuel Horsford
- Tunick Family Fund Scholarship: Lola Pierre
- William Otto and Shari Decker Music Scholarship: Kai Richardson
- V.I. Association of Legal Assistants Scholarship: Asha Joseph
- CAHS Physician Alumni Scholarship Fund (graduate scholarship): Malori Callender
- Cynthia DeHaynes Health Science Graduate Scholarship: Ali Kareem
- Lana Vento Marine & Environmental Studies Scholarship (graduate): Kristen Maize and Lia Ortiz
- NSL Graduate Studies Scholarship: Re’Neesha Thomas
- Windward Capital Summer Scholarships: I-Dahila Babrow, Kyle Gonsalves, Nicole Joseph, Okeya Smith, Ashley Wilkinson, Richard Driscoll and Tabari Lake