This week, I began our Connecting Virgin Islanders Everywhere Tour with the first stop in FLORIDA! I would like to thank the Friends of Donastorg – Florida Chapter for orchestrating an amazing event in keeping with our mission of uniting Virgin Islanders both near and far. What a wonderful event it was and even more beautiful was to experience the camaraderie between all of us who remain “United in Pride and Hope” no matter how far we may go from our island home; home is where the heart is and it is evident that our hearts remain in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Even more special was the presence of the V.I. One Cricket Organization (wearing yellow shirts in the pictures) to whom we dedicated our reception to encourage them as they are currently representing the Virgin Islands in a nearby cricket match in Florida, hosted in the only cricket stadium in the United States. We were thrilled to have them join us and equally proud of them for serving as our ambassadors through the demonstration of their athletic abilities.
Overall, it was an evening thoroughly enjoyed by all; thank you to all of our guests for your support and presence. Onward to ATLANTA!
I would like to wish a Happy Veterans Day to all those who have and continue to serve us through the potential sacrifice of God’s most precious gift: their lives. It is through this dedication of their lives to our freedom that we as Virgin Islanders, and all Americans, are able to live in the full manifestation of our own. We are very thankful for your bravery and your steadfast protection and for this, today and everyday, we salute you.
This morning, I hosted a breakfast on Magen’s Bay Beach for members of the AAA Taxi Association, many of whom are Veterans. It was a beautiful, crisp, and sunny morning and among the backdrop of a perfectly blue sea, the venue provided us with the perfect opportunity to enjoy a traditional salt fish and spinach breakfast while sharing our concerns for the future of the U.S. Virgin Islands. As we ate and discussed the issues at hand, I again realized that in order to protect the economic ecosystem here in the Virgin Islands, we must provide opportunities for all of us to succeed as our individual successes all contribute to the overall success for our Territory. For example, in creating additional streams of tourism, whether it is sports tourism, event tourism, or increasing the geographical markets in which we promote our Tourism, we in turn increase the number and frequency of visitors to our shores, which then increases the demand for support services such as accommodations, restaurants, and transportation. A vision that is conceptualized at the top and provided programmatic support that allows it to materialize will produce economic benefits that will trickle down throughout every echelon of our society. Where we lack vision, we impede progress and where progress is impeded, stagnation and decline follow. Let us begin to open our minds and expand the capabilities of the U.S. Virgin Islands to allow us all to benefit from its greatness. I thank the members of the AAA Taxi Association and all of the Virgin Islanders whom I have encountered in my recent travels for sharing your concerns and pledging your support. We are ready. Let’s Do It!
I would like to extend a sincere Muchas Gracias a mis hermanos Hispanos, El Comite de Hispanos con Donastorg, for hosting yet another successful Food Sale today! It is wonderful to witness Virgin Islanders from so many different cultures coming together in unity with the common goal of protecting and preserving our island home for generations to come. As many know, I too am of Hispanic decent and I am extremely grateful for my diverse heritage that provides me with the unique opportunity to finally bridge the gap between our primarily Spanish-speaking Virgin Islanders and our English-speaking Virgin Islanders as well as bridge the gap between the U.S. Virgin Islands and our neighbor, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico from which mi madre hails, to unite us all as one. Estamos unidos en las Islas Virgenes y estamos listos…Vamos a Hacerlo! Let’s Do It!
Coming soon to a city near YOU…Florida, Atlanta, New York / New Jersey, and District of Columbia / Maryland / Virginia, are you READY? We are! Let’s Do It!
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending the Pre-Independence Gala Celebrating Antigua & Barbuda’s 32nd Anniversary of Independence, which was actually observed yesterday. I would like to thank the Antigua & Barbuda Heritage Link for their kind invitation and unbelievable hospitality. It was a very enjoyable night filled with cultural entertainment and lots of warm camaraderie; certainly an evening well-enjoyed!
As I looked around the room, I saw many Antiguan and Barbudan Virgin Islanders who are great pillars of our community and as always, it strengthened my sentiment that I am so thankful for our melting pot, the U.S. Virgin Islands, welcoming warmly many of our Eastern Caribbean neighbors, our Stateside compatriots, and others from lands all over our vast world and allowing for their contributions to strengthen our shores for the betterment of all of us who call ourselves Virgin Islanders.
Today I would like to wish those from Antigua & Barbuda (celebrated yesterday) AND those from Dominica (celebrated tomorrow) a Happy Independence Day! Enjoy your many celebrations and we are looking forward to more to come!
I recently had the opportunity to visit with some of our taxi drivers at Magen’s Bay and at the Airport to sit and listen to their concerns. As I listened, I wondered how many of us really realize how important they are to the success of our Territory, not only in terms of tourists, but for all of us. Oftentimes, our taxi drivers are our first line of representation for our visitors as they arrive by air or by sea, therefore, they are extremely important ambassadors for our Territory and should be respected and treated as such. From safari drivers to private tour guides to taxis-for-hire, our taxi drivers move this Territory and as such, it is imperative that they are equipped with the tools that they need to ensure their continued efficiency and effectiveness.
The beauty of any struggle is that there is limitless opportunity for progress and this certainly holds true as it relates to our taxi drivers. From providing governmental support to modernize their dispatch facilities – both structurally and technologically to allow connectivity between each other, to the central Commission, to air and sea terminals, and to the various governmental agencies from which they require service – to many other innovative initiatives designed to keep them and all of us moving swiftly and safely, we must begin to strengthen the bonds with one of our most essential Territorial forces. Let’s Do It!
Coki Point is one of the most pristine beaches on St. Thomas with pure white powder sand and clear blue water to rival the purest sand and clearest waters found throughout the entire Caribbean. It is a snorkeling enthusiast’s dream with a coral reef filled with scores of multicolored tropical fish and other marine life that amazes both the novice and the seasoned alike. Coki Point is our gem and with its quaint and familiar appeal, it is certainly one of our island treasures. I, many other Virgin Islanders, and tourists have enjoyed Coki Point for decades as it is aesthetically the epitome of a tropical Paradise beach, however, in recent years, it has been marred with violence and tragedy, with the most recent incident occurring just yesterday, resulting in the death of yet more of our treasured youth and dealing a debilitating blow to our already fragile community.
The question is now: How do we save Coki Point and essentially, our entire Paradise as we once knew it?
There are so many underlying factors that are intertwined within a complex and tangled web that are contributing to our seemingly declining Territorial state – socioeconomic climate, education, public safety, mass emigration of Virgin Islanders to other regions and more - however, I remain optimistic that collectively and with patient diligence, we can work together to address these ills.
I will not and never give up on my home, the home that bore me, the home that raised me, the home to which I have dedicated my life to serving, the home that I know will be restored to the Paradise that it is, our home: the U.S. Virgin Islands. However, just like in our name, the “U.S.” in front of Virgin Islands stands for US; it will take all of US TOGETHER to lead, to stand in front of our Virgin Islands, and to enact the necessary changes to ensure that we guide it – together – on the path on which we envision for our future.
To the families and communities grieving from this latest incident and to all of those who continue to suffer long after the sun sets on our island sons and daughters, my family and I extend our prayers to you, and to all of us who have been impacted, that we may use our pain, our suffering, and our loss as a catalyst for the much needed change to save us and our Virgin Islands.
How blessed are we to reside in the melting pot of the U.S. Virgin Islands! I am a proud Virgin Islander and equally as proud to be a member of the Democratic Party who embraces the diversity of its membership and celebrates the contributions of all. Last night, I attended the installation of the new officers for the Club Democrata Hispana en las Islas Virgenes and would like to congratulate them, as well as thank them for continuing our mission of Change that Matters. As a Virgin Islander of Hispanic decent, I was extremely proud to share in this special moment.
May we continue to embrace all who grace our shores with love and may we always be an embodiment of our motto “United in Pride and Hope.” Vamos a Hacerlo!
Last night, I attended the “Simply Love” Inspirational Talk presented by His Holiness Dada J.P. Vaswani and hosted by the India Association of the Virgin Islands. Firstly, I would like to thank the members of the India Association of the Virgin Islands for inviting me to attend and for their forward-thinking vision in bringing much needed inspiration and positivity to our community. Thank you for your efforts.
As I sat and listened, I repeatedly heard the underlying theme of love being the source of peace and personal happiness. It is through love, whether it is love for oneself or love for one another, that we are able to free ourselves from the mental chains of pain, fear, and negativity and fully experience with open eyes, minds, and hearts the true essence of life. How often do we tell our loved ones that we love them: our life partners, children, family members, and others who are essential in our lives? How often do we tell ourselves that we love ourselves, even though we may be less than perfect in our own eyes? If we are the embodiment of love through the practice of self-love, we then can lead by example and spread love throughout our families and our communities through the love that we have for ourselves and everyone around us.
Oftentimes, we complain about the ills of our Territory and we wonder what is the answer. The answer, my Friends, is Simply Love. If we as families and communities express and teach love daily to our youth, they will embody love for themselves and others. If we demonstrate love and pride in the condition of our communities, our tourists will experience a true Paradise. The list continues, however it is up to us as Virgin Islanders to decide our path, our future, and our destiny. We have the power to break the cycle of negativity and embrace love and fulfill all of its promise for us. What is your choice? I choose to Love. Let’s Do It!