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A Day To Remember,  

CURET Breaking Milestone

By Edgar Johnson

The Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony and Open House Celebration of CURET Caribbean Resource Center was an extraordinary occasion at 1443 Albany Avenue, Hartford, CT. It was a scene to behold: the limo parked in front of the building with two Jamaican flags specially positioned, to escort Hon. Audrey Marks, the new Jamaica ambassador to the United States scheduled to speak at the event; CURET’s Boy Scouts, Troop 1443 ready to escort the ambassador to the ceremony.

At the same time the surrounding area was decked out with crowds of people on such a gorgeous day—the weather was perfect, not hot, not cold and low humidity which enhanced the celebration—hundreds of guests representing various institutions and organizations, community leaders, businesses, supporters, contributors, donors and partners, politicians, families and kids, well-wishers—businesses stopped their activities to take in CURET’s significant milestone.

CURET Boy Scouts Troop 1443 led by Scout Master Dean Rhoden, Assistant Scout Master Colin Atkins, and Scout Commissioner Lee Martin led the processional and flag ceremony. Following the invocation by Mark Bailey, vice chair of the Board of Directors, Dr. Lenford Lawes, chair of the Board of Directors, extended a warm welcome to everyone, followed by Carla LeRee Salmon who did a beautiful rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner; Liza Tomlinson gave a couple of musical selections. Mistress of Ceremonies Councilwoman Veronica Airey-Wilson and Former Mayor of Hartford Hon. Eddie Perez officiated in the ribbon-cutting ceremony, joined with Hon. Donatus St. Aimee, Saint Lucia’s ambassador to the United Nations. All lauded the Center for its significant contribution in the community.

According to Former Hartford Mayor Perez, the biggest congratulations go for the number of people from the community who come forward to share their time to help others. He said that it is the volunteers who make the center work.

After witnessing the official Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony at the front of the building, CURET Boy Scouts Troop 1443 led the guests and procession to the rear of the building where the festivities continued with Mistress of Ceremonies Councilwoman Airey-Wilson and Co-Master of Ceremonies, Donovan Longmore.

Councilwoman Airey-Wilson explained the absence of Ambassador Marks to a very understanding audience. Saint Lucian Ambassador Dr. Aimee, speaking on the vision of the Center in providing critical services to the community, made reference to a similar center in New York that brings everybody together and serves the community. He praised the work of CURET in Hartford. “You provide such wonderful services for the community. Keep up the good works,” he said.

 Attendees enjoyed the sumptuous Caribbean-style cuisine and fabulous entertainment. The parking lot at the rear of the building became an entertainment and dining center. A couple of tents were setup for the bountiful meals, plus the assortment of Hors d’ oeuvres and drinks, snack foods, and other delicacies. Teens were on hand to help the seniors who were responsible for the serving of the meals, ensuring that there was always an ample supply of the foods and for the smooth operation of the event.

Among the entertainers were: DJs Geron Jackson from Showtime; Don Taylor, soloist; Janice Hart kept the audience in laughter and spell-bounded, reminiscing on “Old Time Jamaica”; cultural dancers, represented the best in Caribbean folk music, presented by the Caribbean American Dance Company, and Voices of the Caribbean.

While on the outside, the refreshments, numerous outdoor activities, and entertainment held the attention of the crowd, on the inside of the facility other visitors toured the building. Some watched the slide shows and videos depicting the many services and programs of CURET. Also indoor were displays of donated works of art by visual artist and musician Tito Ortiz of Hartford, and visual artist Vivian Kelly of Ft. Lauderdale, FL. The works of art were for silent auctions.

Also, other fun-packed activities including face painting for the children, chances to win the door prize—a Family fun Gift Basket, a photo shot, a gift certificate for an online shopping spree at an online Caribbean grocery outfit, a large basket containing Caribbean Jerk themes, baskets filled with goodies for children, and a fun schoolbag designed as a cheetah and donated by Paulette Lawrence. All rounded out the family friendly activities.

“We are committed to serving families and children of our community,” said Dr. Edgar Johnson, executive director of CURET, as he gave a brief history on how the Center started and its impact over the past 18 years. He highlighted the programs, impact of services for families and children, youth, adults upgrading their skills in reading, spelling, writing integrated with computer literacy, job skills; Summer Academic Tutoring and Enrichment Program; Annual Education Awareness Rally/Conference; Research and Program Evaluation; Citizenship Education classes; Health Literacy; Financial Literacy; the new Boy Scouts program targeting inner-city boys, ages 10-15.

Johnson encouraged attendees to purchase bricks that will have their names engraved on the bricks laid permanently along the pathway that leads to building.  By purchasing a brick, they help to sustain CURET’s needed programs.

“Over the years, my grandchildren attended the CURET Summer Academic Programs and when I read about the upcoming open house, I said to myself, ‘I have to be there because you provide such wonderful programs for students during the summer. Now my grandchildren are grown and are in high school and college, but I do cherish the rich programs they enjoyed when they were in elementary school and attended your summer programs. Again, thank you and keep up the good works,” said a guest.

“This is an exciting and important milestone for CURET and we are truly grateful for the enthusiasm and support of so many who have demonstrated their support of the work that CURET Caribbean Resource Center is doing and in reaching such a milestone,” said Dr. Carol Johnson who directs educational programs at CURET.  

“Thank you both for the opportunity to add value and it was indeed a very festive and successful event by any definition. It was gratifying to see how your vision is transforming our community – slowly but surely,” said Annie Lazarus.

“Thanks for your invitation. I really enjoyed the event and [CURET] must be very proud of what your efforts have achieved. Keep up the great work. So many people benefit in so many ways from your work,” said Dr. Newt Clark of CREC and the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.

“Thanks for being such great hostesses. We were made to feel welcome. This event was a tremendous success,” said Sharon O’Meara of the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.

“We are happy to see CURET’s support from the community and the success of its programs. These are the kind of programs we support. We are happy that we are able to participate in this kind of program,” said Linda Kelly, president of the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.

“It was an excellent, excellent program and we thoroughly enjoyed it and ourselves. Our involvement is called working together as we’re part of the community,” Pearl Dash, public relations director and community of Henry L. Fuqua Funeral Services.

For support of CURET’s programs call (860) 247-0123; Email: info@curetinc.org; Website: www.curetinc.org.

 

©Copyright 2000 by CURET, INC. All rights reserved. This material may not be reproduced by any means, including electronically or photocopying, without the specific written consent from the executive director/CEO of CURET, Inc.

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Center for Urban Research, Education and Training Ribbon-Cutting Celebration, June 17, 2010.


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