The chairman of the Sea Grape Community Association has labeled this year's festivities a great success.
This year’s Sea Grape Homecoming festival was staged August 3 – 5. Chairman Jaron Harvey said the activities were "thoroughly enjoyed by all."
An added aspect to this year’s festivities was a community give-back initiative whereby residents of Sea Grape, both young and old, received a number of back- to- school items, clothing, shoes, food items, toiletries and other items. The give-back concept was spearheaded by a non-profit organization, based in The United States, ‘Be the L.I.G.H.T.’ The founder and director of the organization, Jessica ‘Peachie’ Swann-Miles, is a native of the Sea Grape Community.
During an interview, Harvey informed that witnessing the community of Sea Grape come together, on such a large scale, to assist with the event, was truly heartwarming for him.
“As Chairman of the Sea Grape Community Association, we are extremely grateful to ‘Be the L.I.G.H.T.', for coming to the community of Sea Grape and sponsoring such a large event. The seniors were so happy. I saw persons who are not even from the community of Sea Grape come out and were attached to someone; assisting them. They were patient, understanding and very empathetic to their situation, even encouraging them, helping them to pick out items. Brand-new clothing and shoes were available to them, as well as toiletries and sanitary items. The children played in the bouncing castles.
“I believe, all in all, that the community of Sea Grape is extremely grateful and extremely happy for such an event. Even with the school supplies and the bouncing castle the children were enjoying themselves. It was a happy day for them.
“At the end of the day that was the ultimate goal, to make sure that the children were happy, the community, happy. Everything was free. We are just so grateful to ‘Be the L.I.G.H.T’ because they did not have to do this. The challenges they faced to bring in eight pallets of supplies was overwhelming. I am just happy and grateful the community of Sea Grape is connected to so many people who are able to ease the burden and make the transition of doing business in The Bahamas easier for them. We were able to assist in that regard.
“The young men in the community of Sea Grape were of course helping them offload the items. I saw the spirit of unity in Sea Grape the entire weekend and I am happy for that.
He disclosed that there were a bit of technical difficulties with respect to day one of this year’s homecoming celebration, at the Friday August 3, welcome party. Nonetheless, those in attendance thoroughly enjoyed the evening, he stated.
“We ran into a few challenges, in terms of electricity, but all in all, we can say that the entire night went well. We had a little speed bump in the beginning but, of course that is expected when you are planning such a large event. One thing I can say about the people of Sea Grape, they are resilient.
“They did not allow the electricity issue to phase them. They were still out there, dancing the night away to the golden oldies.
Jessica ‘Peachie’ Swann-Miles, Founder and Director, ‘Be the L.I.G.H.T. Organization’ noted that she was pleased and honoured to give back to the community that she loves, in honour of her grandmother Edith Swann, a well-known matriarch of the Sea Grape Community who was affectionately referred to as ‘Ma Eddy.’
“We donated backpacks, school supplies, a bouncing castle for the kids to enjoy, and held a cookout for the kids. We also had a senior citizens breakfast at the St. David’s Church, where we also gave out canned goods, toiletries, clothes and shoes. You name it basically, and we had it.
“We had a pretty big crowd that came out. We had it set up for about 260 kids.”
Swann-Miles, thanked all who partnered with ‘Be the L.I.G.H.T’ in terms of sponsorship and the logistics of allowing making the give-back possible. She also thanked, for his support as well; Bain’s Dental, that also answered the call of giving back, providing free dental hygiene products to the students that received backpacks; and the Freeport LION’S Club.
“Thank you to everyone who helped.”
A recipient of a number of the backpacks was Martin Town Primary School. Vice Principal Marguarite Swann thanked the ‘Be the L.I.G.H.T’ organization on Principal Leslie Newton’s behalf.
“We are very fortunate to be recipients of the donations from ‘Be the L.I.G.H.T.’ We received books and school supplies for the school, which will go a long way in helping us to provide what we need for our students. We are especially grateful for the library books that we received, which we are always in need of. We are always looking for a cadre of books for our grade levels. We are very grateful for that.
“In terms of the school supplies, even though parents are providing for their children, sometimes it is still very difficult for parents to get them everything. It is good when we have some extras at the school, where we can help out those children who come in and their parents are unable to get the supplies needed. Therefore with these items we will be able to help them.
“We thank foundations, volunteers and persons, like ‘Be the L.I.G.H.T.’ who help schools, to be able to help their students. In turn we help the community and in turn help the country,” said Vice Principal Swann.
Swann was questioned as to the expected student enrollment at Martin Town Primary School this coming school year.
“We are looking at about two hundred and eighty plus, maybe 300 children. These donations will indeed go a long way, especially knowing the economy of Grand Bahama right now. Every little bit helps and it was very thoughtful of them, to consider our school.
“On behalf of Martin Town Primary’s Principal, Leslie Newton we are so grateful for all of the donations that they have given to us,” concluded Swann.
On hand, assisting with the event were members of the Freeport LION’S and Leo Clubs. Keith Bain, Immediate Past President, Freeport LION’S Club gave remarks and emphasized the importance of the Club giving service.
“It was important for us to give back in such a way because we believe in service. When we were asked to partner with the ‘Be the L.I.G.H.T.’ organization, under the leadership of our President, LION Gwen Symonette, we had no problem in supporting this organization. Our main goal is to give back and this was a way of giving back.
“As you know we are the best grillers on the island, so they asked us to man the grills. We provided the grills and the manpower. The LION’S and the Leo’s we happy to come out and assist ‘Be the L.I.G.H.T. ‘
Recipients of the giveback shared their thoughts on the event.
Eleven-year-old Shauntae Bell she had a wonderful time at the event, especially enjoying the food and the bouncing castle. Bell informed that she will be entering the seventh grade at Eight Mile Rock High in September.
Alexio Pinder, a 10-year-old in attendance stated: “I had fun. I went on the bouncing castle and had hot dogs. I attend Martin Town Primary and I will enter Grade 6 in September.”
Five-year-old Sariah, upon receiving her backpack filled with school supplies stated that she loved it and was excited to enter the first grade of Martin Town Primary school come September.
Knaje Minnis, a four-year-old in attendance also stated he enjoyed the gifts he received at the church, inclusive of his backpack, books and pencils. However the highlight of his day was playing on the bouncing castle.
On Saturday evening the Sea Grape Community Association hosted the cultural extravaganza.
The three-day event concluded with a church service at St. David’s Methodist Church, where parishioners of the three churches located in the community of Sea Grape, St. David’s Methodist, Mt. Calvary Baptist and The Church of God of Prophecy, were invited to attend.