Effective July 31, 2014 Chester Hinkson, the first native St. Lucian to head Scotia bank St. Lucia, will retire from the bank after four decades, serving in six countries and countless positions within Scotia bank, Hinkson went on to become one of the cornerstones of the local business community, serving at various times as the president of the St. Lucia Bankers Association and president of the St. Lucia Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture.
Hinkson will not be resting anytime soon as he has been elected to head the Rotary Club of St. Lucia over the weekend at a weekly meeting at the Sandals Halycon.
Hinkson took on the post because president-elect Rotarian Gloria Williams was unable to take on the office.
In his acceptance speech, Hinkson said: “As we move into the new Rotary year, I count on each and every one of us to commit to making a difference. My success has nothing to do with me being the president of this club, as that is just a title; however, it carries enormous responsibilities which I take very seriously. I need us to support each other. I need involvement and action, not talk. We are not in politics; we are in service to a people and nation.”
The newly elected president went on the say: “Every New Year we make it a commitment to feed the poor and I salute all those who participated in this good gesture this year. However, the next day all these same people go hungry and must wait until the following New Year for a decent meal. There is enough money in the account for us to take up this challenge twice a year or quarterly if feasible. Call it Rotary Thanksgiving Day.
“I see too many people in St. Lucia eating out of garbage bins daily. Our responsibility is not only to feed them, but to have our voices heard as caring citizens determined to make a difference — to have these people off the streets. While we are not a political organisation, there is nothing in our constitution or by-laws that says we cannot enter into dialogue with the minister of transformation to provide moral, empathetic and monetary support to our marginalised St. Lucian brothers and sisters.”
One my ask: what is Rotary?
Hinkson said: “We are a 1.2 million-member organisation started with the vision of one man — Paul P. Harris. The Chicago attorney formed one of the world’s first service organisations, the Rotary Club of Chicago on 23 February 1905 as a place where professionals with diverse backgrounds could exchange ideas and form meaningful, lifelong friendships.
“Rotary’s name came from the group’s early practice of rotating meetings among the offices of each member, in other words, Rotary is a service organisation, and in keeping with its motto the new president made his first pledge, “I pledge today to live by example and by committing to a donation EC$1,000 to jump start some project and ask that the club and each member consider assisting in whatever way you can to support this initiative. I am also prepared to forgo the handover dinner which should have taken place in lieu of this abridged version to which I have no objection whatsoever. We must intensify our public relations to sensitise the St. Lucian public to what Rotary wants to accomplish by letting them know that they too must play a role. Following that, we then engage government. Start by inviting the minister of transformation to be a guest speaker at one of our luncheon meetings. At every opportunity we must celebrate our successes.”
President Hinkson intends to increase the club’s visibility, as he went on to say: “Every good deed we perform must be made public. It is time we remove the stigma of Rotary being a bourgeois club where we assemble to have lobsters and Johnny Walker at every meeting. This image must be dispelled once and for all. I therefore expect our public relations director with the support of other committee members to keep the public informed of what we do at all times.”
Fellow Rotarians sitting back and doing nothing is not the answer. The Rotary president added: “Poverty in my view is like slavery. There is enough in this country, St. Lucia, the most beautiful in the world for all of our needs, but not enough for all our greed. So please take heed my friends — if we do not bring our wealth whatever measure that is, to the poor, they will bring their poverty to our door steps. I appreciate that some of these affected people are mentally challenged; some are indigent, some homeless, some unemployed, some unemployable and some darn right lazy. We must begin to differentiate their needs. I will continue to say however, that while all of us cannot do everything each one of us can do something.”
Hinkson will hold the office of president till July 2015.