United Way launched in Turks and Caicos

Over the past few weeks, United Way Turks and Caicos has hosted a number of events to make themselves known throughout the community.

After two years of ground work the organization has finally launched with three main focus areas which include, Education, Youth Development and Crime Prevention.

This organization was founded by the strong leadership of a single donor and his family foundation who have a home here in Turks and Caicos. Mr. Waugh and the Waugh Family Foundation were instrumental in asking United Way Worldwide to visit the Turks and Caicos to see if there was a need for such a Nonprofit.

Founding Member and Chairman Mark Fulford led the way in establishing an arm of The United Way Worldwide who came in Turks and Caicos Islands in 2016 to conduct community conversation to create the focus of the organization.

Last week Thursday December 6th saw the official launch and Gala Dinner Fundraiser with visiting delegates from United Way Worldwide International, President Mr. Jose Ferrao along with Mr. Rick and Lynn Waugh from the Waugh Family Foundation.

Executive Director Ms. Claudine Ewing stated that the organization will be collaborating with other entities to strengthen programs within those three focus areas.

The week of activities began with the launching of our “Yes I Can Read” Intervention Program. This launch took place on the Downtown Ballpark where a Reading Fair was hosted under the theme “Desserts with Dr. Seuss”.

“We had over 700 children present and 21 companies and schools hosting reading booths. This was an exciting time for the children as they visited the various booths to read a book and then headed off to the dessert stations for treats and pictures with Cat In The Hat,” Ewing said. “The week continued with a powerful networking session for corporate companies and the United Way Worldwide team. This session was a casual cocktail that created the atmosphere for conversation about how United Way works and how important the corporate sector is to the survival of the organization.”

According to Ewing, to date the organization has already embarked on a few collaborative initiatives, such as partnering with the Education Department to sponsor the Special Needs Symposium that was held last month. There is also a huge restoration project going on in South Caicos where they are repairing the roofs of 15 elderly citizens homes in the Island of South Caicos, which was damaged by hurricanes Irma and Maria, eight (8) of which are completed, with a hope to finish the other seven (7) in early January.United Way hopes to change lives for the better in the local communities with a strong programs aligned with their focus areas.

“The first program which is the reading program which is now running in the Enid Capron Primary School is a collaborative effort of United Way Turks and Caicos and the Grace Bay Resorts Foundation. This program is being facilitated by our volunteer teacher Mrs. Marjorie Bassett and the Enid Capron Special Education Teacher Mrs. Lashaunda Skippings. United Way hopes to duplicate this program to all government primary schools over the next year and also hope to start the after school tutoring for the older children that are struggling with reading. The aim of this program is to get every primary school age child reading at their grade level. This is a big initiative and we encourage companies and individual volunteers to come onboard and join forces as we jointly address the ills of our communities,” she explained.

United Way’s future programs include school-based crime prevention programs as well as programs to address the youth employment set backs.

“We want to give our young people the tools to become the best that they can be in order to find their rightful place in society,” the executive director continued.

“As Executive Director I am excited about this organization and the support that it is receiving this early in the start up. This means that our community is ready to pull together to make a difference. There are lots of exciting ventures lined up for the communities of the Turks and Caicos and we look forward to spreading our wings to all of our sister islands on the very near future.”

United Way’s office is located downstairs Emily House on the Leeward Highway. Their organization has a board of 15 Directors from all sectors of the community, with Mr. Mark Fulford as Chairman of the Board, Mrs. Hillary Higgs Vice Chairman, Mrs. Snjezana Andrews Treasurer, Mr. Galmo Williams Director, Peter Kerrigan Director, Ms. Nina Siegenthaler Director, Ms. Stephanie Fitzgerald, Mr. Anthony Arata Director, Mr. Rex Messam Director, Mr. Ariel Misick Director, Mr. Mark Durliat Director, Dr. Jameiko Harvey Director, Mr. Curtis Knight Director, Mr. Bradley Theodore Director, Mr. Stanley Williams Director, Mr. Adrian Stubbs Director along with administration staff – Administrative Assistant Mrs. Latanja Knowles and Executive Director, Ms. Claudine Ewing