The Reach Out Youth Organization (ROYO) held its Annual Whit Monday March yesterday, where a number of local pastors and their wives were honoured, for their invaluable contributions they continue to make on our society.
While the name of the march was changed this year to the Cecil Thompson Grand Bahama United March, to include, men, women and entire families, the objective of the annual event remained the same, to march against crime and social ills impacting our society.
According to ROYO Founder Dudley Seide, prior to the march commencing from The Lucaya Cricket Club, to Taino Beach, “We want the criminals to know that enough is enough. We are here to rally together, to let them know that we are going to fight against crime and other social ills that face our community.
“We are going to continue this march, to let persons know that, while we are always highlighting the negative, but today we want to show the criminals that we are not going to take it anymore. There are too many young men dying on our streets every day in this country. That is why we brought pastors, politicians and other sectors of the community to march against crime here on the island.
“It is so good to see Magistrate Rengin Johnson out here with us today. If we can continue this then they (young men and women) would not have to face her in court, said Seide.
Veteran educator, Cecil Thompson noted that he was indeed honoured to have the annual march take place again in his honour.
“It has been one of the great honours of my life, for a march of this magnitude to be named in my honour. As the former Principal of Hawksbill High and Dudley is a graduate of Hawksbill High, he has been doing such great work in this community.
“If a graduate of another institution would have named it in my honour, I would have felt the same, but because he is out of the Hawksbill High family, it means that much more to me.
“When one looks at the tremendous work he has been doing in the community over the years, I feel highly honoured, highly favoured, and highly blessed to be a part of this,” said Thompson.
“He is bringing the entire island of Grand Bahama together. He has now named the march, ‘Cecil Thompson Grand Bahama United’, to include not only men, but women, in the fight against crime and things that are negative.
“As the current and the former Chairman of One Bahamas, for so many years, it all fits in. I feel humbled to be a part of this celebration. If I had the power, all of the churches on the island would have had representatives here; all of the schools would have had representatives here.
“We are extremely grateful for the Royal Bahamas Defence Force Rangers and their officer in charge, the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) Band and, of course, reliable Leslie McDonald (Leader and Founder, Legends Marching Band), who himself is on dialysis three times a week, but from this inception he has never missed this. I am extremely humbled and grateful to him,” concluded Thompson.
Rengin Johnson, Magistrate, Freeport Magistrate’s Court shared her reason for attending the annual march.
“I want to support them, the youth, and it is one of the very important parts of my profession. I always give them an opportunity for another chance. I want them to be seen doing something positive and to be rewarded, given a place in the society.
“They are our future and it is very important for me, to support them where I can and how I can, both young men and women. They all deserve a second chance, and they want us to support them, to be there with them and listen to them; to validate what they are doing.
“This is also a form of discipline as well; walking is a very positive exercise; it is very good for our health and our minds. By walking with them, I am saying that I am all the way with them, and I will be standing with them. That is what I do in my court; I have the rehabilitation program and so this is also a part of my supporting the youth, our future.
Pastor Robert Lockhart, President, Grand Bahama Christian Council (GBCC) and his wife Rochelle, overall honorees of this year’s Grand Bahama United March expressed their thoughts on being honoured by ROYO in such a way.
“Pastor Lockhart informed, “First of all we have been working along with Reach Out Youth Organization since they have begun and I think I have been out to every march since they have had them.
“We are in alignment with what they are doing, reaching out to young men and young women, especially our young men and so we give them all of the support that we can.
“It is an honour to be honoured, and so we thank God for it,” said the GBCC President.
Rochelle Lockhart, wife of Pastor Lockhart also expressed similar sentiments.
“I want to congratulate Dudley Seide and the Reach Out Youth Organization, for their continuous work and the impact they are making, not only in Grand Bahama, but in The Bahamas, to influence our young people to pursue the right paths.
“I think it is important for our young people to be constantly reminded that they are important, that they matter and that we are here to support them, to stand with them and to see them succeed; becoming productive citizens in our country.
“I am honoured to be one of the honorees We are working along with Dudley, continuously in prayer and standing with him; we are here to show our support.
Another honoree, Bishop Kermit Saunders, also shared his thoughts on the recognition by ROYO.
“I am more than elated; I am grateful to Mr. Seide and his organization for considering me. I do not do what I do for any notoriety or name but it is a genuine love of my heart to support organizations such as ROYO.
“We have been helping financially and otherwise, ROYO from its inception. I do it because I love the youth and I love the next generation. I am just honoured to have been considered.
“I stand behind his (Seide) efforts and his love for the next generation and what he wants to do to develop this youth of Grand Bahama, The Bahamas and indeed the world,” concluded Saunders.
The group travelled along Balao Road, onto Midshipman Road to West Beach Road. The march concluded at Taino Beach, where another aspect of the Whit Monday holiday march continued for the first time with a family fun day, where a Grill off and domino competition took place.