Family Support Network celebrates 30 Years of Achievements


Judith Charles, President of the Family Support Network (FSN) and Sasha Stoutt, FSN Executive Director announced that the non governmental no profit organization in its 30 years of existence has gained the community’s respect and has witnessed evolution in the service it offers. Both of the FSN leaders were speaking on the occasion of the 30th anniversary celebration.

In her reflection, the FSN President alluded to the fact that the organization still doesn’t own its own building and after years cannot provide longterm shelter for persons in the community who need to get out of an abusive situation. Charles while quickly mentioning the need said: “The challenge now is to build a permanent home and shelter. I look to you all to support and facilitate this long-held ambition of FSN.”

As she reflected on the years of Family Support Network existence the organization’s President explained: “The journey of FSN commenced in 1989 and has been one of natural evolution from a simple gathering of friends and supporters on the steps St Paul’s Anglican Church to be a full-fledged Non-Governmental Organization with a staff and a budget. From the old Methodist Manse that was virtually caving in around us to our present office space, FSN has evolved from stage to stage, meeting the needs of a growing and changing society not only due to the hard work of our staff and volunteers, but also born out of little miracles.”

In noting some of the ups and downs the organization had over the years Charles said: “We were overdrawn at the bank and the staff quit. The next fundraiser organized by volunteers put us back in the black and I was able to hire a Director with a PhD. Hurricane Irma took off the roof of our office and a Good Samaritan gave us a free place to live for a year. There are so many wonderful FSN stories about how this organization started and has kept going, positively affecting the lives of so many people, many with sad stories.”

“The Family Support Network of the Virgin Islands was born because the late Phyllis Pickering-Shirley and collaborator Marlene Penn Evans discerned a need in the Anglican community. Several other women joined them in setting up an informal counselling network for victims of domestic violence and that informal chat room evolved into the 30-year-old organization that we celebrate today,” the President added.

Ms. Stoutt in her reflection of the year and half that she has spent at the organization said that she continues to be mesmerized by the kindness of the community: “I have witnessed the goodness and true community spirit of the BVI. In moments when FSN’s pantry has been bare, there are people that stop by, take note and rally to fill our shelves. Whenever we are in need of volunteers there are people that make themselves available to assist us. I believe that the continued support that FSN has been given over the years is based on the trust and respect BVI community has developed for this organization over the years,” she said.