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(PRESS RELEASE) — After months of planning, the third annual Make it Happen Foundation Officers’ Ball came to life at the Sandals Grande Beach Resort & Spa on December 1st.
Annually, the fundraising gala features a night of entertainment aimed at raising money for projects which build upon the strength, resources and morale of police and fire fighters island-wide.
Held in the ambience of the Bill Clinton Ballroom, the event saw the attendance of many of the island’s top ranking officials, including Prime minister Hon. Allen Chastanet, Minister for Economic Development Hon. Guy Joseph, Tourism Minister Hon. Dominic Fedee, Minister of the Public Service Hon. Ubaldus Raymond, Attorney General Stephen Julien, business leaders and CEOs of local and regional companies, head honchos of the police and fire service and Ambassadors of Cuba, Taiwan, Venezuela, Libya and representatives of the British High Commission and the Argentine and Spanish Embassies in Saint Lucia.
Organizer of the event and Chairperson of the Make It Happen Foundation, Mrs. Raquel Du Boulay-Chastanet, wife of Prime Minister Hon. Allen Chastanet noted in her address that Saint Lucian police and firefighters put their lives on the line daily, asking for very little in return. She viewed the Ball as a way of celebrating officers and giving back.
“This year we take the opportunity to remind you about the many sacrifices our fire and police officers make, and the challenges they face daily in the most difficult of circumstances,” Make it Happen’s Chairperson said to a sold-out Ball room. “We hope this evening inspires many more of you to work with us to try to improve their working conditions and to ensure they’re treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.”
Mrs. Du Boulay-Chastanet pointed out that the Foundation was not trying to step into the shoes of government, but instead, “play our part as private citizens to assist where we can.” She voiced that it was unreasonable to expect officers to perform their roles effectively without the proper environment, tools and resources to do so.
As part of the event, a short feature was shown demonstrating the work of the Make it Happen Foundation, detailing how funds have been spent on various projects benefiting the island’s essential services. A 90 second video was also shown highlighting the new police headquarters soon to be constructed which was received by appreciative applause from the audience.
The Foundation’s Chair thanked all officers who were present and those who were working the beat. She bemoaned the fact that it is primarily negative stories which get circulated and reiterated the need for more positive stories to receive public attention as for many hard-working officers, recognition and gratitude are hard to come by.
Last year’s Ball raised $125,000, with the previous year bringing in roughly $115,000. The proceeds went toward the refurbishment of several police and fire stations around the island, the implementation of new lounges, offices, kitchens and bathrooms within the facilities, and the addition of new furniture and features including water tanks. Thus far, beneficiaries include the Gros Islet Fire Station, Gros Islet Police Station, Marchand Police Station, Vieux Fort Police Station and Vieux Fort Crash Fire Hall, Micoud Police and Fire Stations, Soufriere Police and Fire Stations, Choiseul Police Station, Laborie Police Station and Dennery Police and Fire Stations, with many more expected to receive assistance in the coming year.
In 2018, the Make it Happen Foundation further increased outreach to benefit local schools, working with facilitators at the Odsan Primary School and the Fond Assau Combined School to build a new library in each. From all accounts, the improvements were well received by teachers and students. Donations of items such as wheelchairs and bathrobes were also made to private individuals, homes for aged persons, the Dennery Hospital and smaller sums were made available for some individual medical needs and the Vigie Football field.
At Saturday’s gala event, Lifetime Achievement awards were presented to former police and fire officers who demonstrated the power of the human spirit and who built their careers on the backs of their own dedication and drive. The first went to a man described as “a legend of the fire service”, Mr. Joseph Mathurin. Presenters noted that still today, many spoke admirably of Mr. Mathurin, who was credited for having been a staunch custodian of discipline and integrity.
A second Lifetime Achievement award went to Rudolph ‘Toto’ Charles, a man of humble beginnings and a musician at heart. Charles played a significant role in the formation of what is today known as the Royal Saint Lucia Police Band.
The third award of the evening went to George Rock, a man with a high level of motivation and innovation, and a reputable detective, who solved cases that went down in history. All received commemorative awards and a weekend stay at Coconut Bay.
A rapid-fire auction offered trips, cruises, jewellery, watches, hotel stays and more. Sandals, Jade Mountain, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Carnival Cruise Lines, MSC Cruise Lines, Carnival Sailing, Royalton, Le Sport, Sugar Beach and others were some of the brands on offer, and guests competed fiercely for the best prizes. Proceeds of the auction will go toward the Foundation’s 2019 budget.
Showing support for the local fashion industry, the event once again unfolded with a Saint Lucian fashion theme, with guests invited to show off creations by local designers. Belle of the Ball, Mrs. Raquel Du Boulay-Chastanet made an unforgettable debut in a gown made by renowned local designer Queen Esther. Halfway through the evening, the original green number was swapped for a classic black lace number, also designed by Queen Esther. Former inspector Gerald Cyril, last year’s Lifetime Achievement Award winner and a two-time best dressed winner, won the award again this year. Ashline George wearing a creation by Cherry Ann Gaillard won the Women’s Best Dressed award. Trendy duo Agnes Monplaisir-Pellerin and Christian Pellerin walked away with the Best Dressed Couple’s award.
Set to continue making things happen in a big way for Saint Lucians, organizers are grateful for the event’s success and contributions from sponsors and corporate partners. Plans are already underway to make an even bigger impact in 2019.