Inaugural Rita Frett Georges Tea Honours Outstanding Women In The Virgin Islands

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TEA-PARTYOn Sunday, June 1, Rita Frett-Georges, Eugenie Todman-Smith, Marlene Penn-Trotman, Nelda Huggins, Jonel Lacey, Taylor Hill, Tarika Moses and Lakeisha Warner were honoured for their achievements at the inaugural Rita Frett-Georges Tea, held at the J. R. O’Neal Botanic Gardens.

The tea was presented by Barnes PR as one of its community outreach programmes.  Executive Director of the firm, Sachkia Barnes explained how the idea came about, “Over a year ago, I had the opportunity to sit with FSN’s President, Judith Charles and Coordinator of the Office of Gender Affairs, Lorolie Connor to plan a community event for International Women’s Day. We wanted to recognise the accomplishments of women in the Territory. Rita Frett-Georges had the vision to advocate for a women’s desk that would formally explore the needs and opportunities for women in the Virgin Islands and we wanted to honour her work.”

Barnes added that the tea will be held annually and funds raised will go towards FSN to assist the non-profit organisation as they support victims of domestic violence.  Each year different women in the community will be honoured.

Rita Frett-Georges

The namesake of the event, Rita Frett Georges, was honoured for her work in gender affairs and health.  She has been credited with revolutionising the concept of mental health care as opposed to mental illness in the Virgin Islands. With the collaboration of the B.V.I. Mental Association she developed a Community Mental Health Model for small states that was recognised by the Pam American Health Organisation and CARICOM in 1982. She was first Psychiatric Nurse and Clinical Psychologist in the Territory and founder of the B.V.I Mental Health Association.

In 1987, Frett-Georges took up the post of Chief Nursing Officer with responsibility for the overall management and development of the Nursing service. Locally she was a foundation member and president for the BVI Nurses Association. Regionally she served on the executive of the Caribbean Nurses Organisation. Internationally she was instrumental in initiating plans for membership in the International Council of Nurses, which was granted provisionally in Jamaica, June 1991 and was formally ratified in Spain in 1993. She received the Josepha Wouter Award for her outstanding contribution to Nursing in 1982.

In 1988 Frett-Georges successfully collaborated with women in the territory to achieve that goal. The group lobbied for the establishment of a Women’s desk in the office of the Chief Minister, which became operational in 1992.  Since then, the office has been renamed and is now the Office of Gender Affairs, which continues work in advocating for gender equality in the Virgin Islands. Mrs Frett Georges retired from the Virgin Islands Public Service in 1998.

Eugenie Todman-Smith

Eugenie Todman-Smith served the Virgin Islands in the teaching service for 20 years and in the Civil Service for a total of 34 years in the following positions: Coordinator of Communication; Community Development Officer; Permanent Secretary in the Ministry for Natural Resources, Public Health, Labour and Immigration; Personnel/Establishment Officer, Chief Establishment Officer and Supervisor of Elections. Todman-Smith retired from the Public Service – first in 1976 after 35 and a half years’ service and 1989/90 after a further 10 years but was recalled each time. She finally retired (for the third time) on 15th Elections.

She also served in a number of public service bodies including the Teaching Service Commission, The Scholarship Committee, the National Parks Trust and the 1993 Constitutional Commission; and in many voluntary associations such as the Red Cross Society, The St John’s Ambulance Brigade, The Girl Guide Association, The Caribbean Mental Health Association (BVI), the Community Agency on Drug and Addiction (CADA), the BVI Beautification Committee among others.  Recently, she joined the Brewer’s Bay Senior Citizens’ Programme. She is still active in voluntary organisations, in the church and family affairs.

Marlene Penn Trotman

Marlene Penn-Trotman established the Family Support Network in the 1980s.  Since then FSN has grown and today serves as the Territory’s primary resource for victims of domestic violence – providing professional guidance, crisis intervention and advocacy services to women and their families.  Understanding the importance of local commerce, in the late 1990s along with other concerend members in the community, Penn Trotman developed the now annual, Christmas on Main Street.  The event remains a tradition that ushers in the holiday season in the Virgin Islands by encouraging residents to shop locally and support business on historic Main Street.

Penn-Trotman has served on several committees in the community including the Police Advisory Committee, the Public Service Commission (PSC), Treasurer for the Episcopal Diocese of the Virgin Islands, St Georges  Episcopal Church Vestry, the church’s Prison Visitation Committee, the National Parks Trust Flower Show Committee, and the St Georges Flower Show Committee. Until her recent retirement from radio in 2013, for 11 years Penn-Trotman hosted a weekly healthy living radio programme, Marlene’s Kitchen, on ZBVI.  Still active in the community, she is presently serving as chairperson of the Ministry of Education and Culture’s Prison Visiting Committee, the Ministry of Health’s National Policy on Aging and its Food and Nutrition Committee.

2013 IAAF Junior World Championship Silver Medalists

Nelda Huggins, Taylor Hill, Jonel Lacey, Tarika Moses and Lakesiha Warner stunned the athletics world at the 8th International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Youth Championships in Donetsk, Ukraine last year by winning a silver medal in the Girls Medley Relay.  The medal is the Territory’s second in the IAAF World Championship series since 2008.  The Virgin Islands came second to the United States and ahead of countries such as Japan, Canada, Czech Republic and Italy.  Of the 37 countries that participated in the 2013 Championships, the Virgin Islands was one of only three Caribbean states that medaled during the games.  All five young athletes are vibrant teenagers, still in high school and are successfully representing the Virgin Islands in regional and international competitions.

Speakers at the event included Fifth District Representative, Hon Delores Christopher, Minister of Education and Culture, Hon Myron V. Walwyn and Hon Ingrid Moses Scatliffe, gave the afternoon’s feature remarks on the political history of women in the Caribbean.  In her presentation, she encouraged young women to take up leadership positions at all levels of society.  The afternoon’s activities were chaired by business woman, Delma Maduro.

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