During the repast that followed the Ex-police 50 Anniversary church service at St Leonard’s Church in Brooklyn, Harold Jones, a former president of the Combermere School alumni in New York shared this concern with me:
“Our organisations are aging. What must we do to attract young people into them?”
This is something that has been seen for some time. At most functions, the same persons are at the door, the same persons serve the food and occasionally one sees a different face.
In reality, Jones’ concern perhaps relates to the fact that there is a large gap between the population of young New Yorkers with Barbadian ancestry, and the number of them who are active in organisation or who attend functions.
But is all hope lost? And for how long will we see young Barbadians descendants only at the Eastern Parkway carnival festivities?
On either side of St. Valentine’s weekend, two organisations continued to make an effort to make the important connection with young Barbadians in different ways.
On the Friday night, at the Hilltops Community Association’s “grand red and white love affair” there was a full house that included many young and familiar faces. That comes as no surprise. Many years ago, the leadership of Hilltops asked the tough question: After us what?
One cannot be sure, but it is possible that it was because one of their presidents, Junior Perry, had plans of returning to Barbados. Be that as it may, Hilltops created a young group with their own rights and privileges. Members of this group, Hilltops Juniors, are still very active. And guess what, Junior Perry was in town to join the celebration. As usual, at this annual event, two members were presented with awards.
At the Friends of Barbados DLP’s pre-election celebration their annual scholarship programme was restarted after a one-year lapse. Two young Barbadians currently attending college were presented with the first part of a two year scholarship grant. The annual Valentine’s cocktail Sip, held this year at the Tropical Paradise restaurant, on Utica, Brooklyn, as usual attracted a very large crowd.
Maybe, part of the answer to Jones’ question, could be found through cultural connections, as displayed by the performance of the dancers, who included a choreographed limbo dance, in their well received three-piece presentation.
While there was no background of trees (Island Inn) or the pool (at Rockley), the carnival costumes of the dancers added another dimension to their performance. Their act, had the elements of a Broadway side show, and definitely complemented the ballroom dancers who, as usual, took over the dance floor just after dinner was served.
The association also made an award to journalist Tony Best.
If there were a “love birds” competition over this weekend, Kelbert and Doreen Hall would certainly qualify as contestants. Doreen, from Carrington’s Village and Kelbert who hails from Halls Road, first met in Barbados about 45 years ago. They have been married for 40 years.
Doreen first came to America to work while Kelbert joined his sister Brenda Hall. Kelbert, who has retired, is often seen walking Doreen to the train station on mornings and meeting her on evenings. They were one of the fleet-footed couples who were seen dancing at the Friends of Barbados Valentines dance.