The 27th Anniversary of GRENED
The Grenada Education and Development Programme, GRENED, continues to support families with financial assistance, despite government’s announcement to absorb the cost of school tuition fees. This announcement was made on Sunday 16th July 2023 as the St. Andrew’s-based organization celebrated its 27th Anniversary with a celebratory event attended by over fifty of GRENED’s scholarship recipients, parents, alumni, staff, special guests and board members. Executive Director, Dr. Dessima Williams, who made the announcement, cited the continuing financial challenges of families in the rural sector to meet development needs, including the all-round cost of education when she stated, “We know how difficult it can be to access schooling and to graduate a child.” She further stated that “GRENED will be there for families; educating their girls and boys.”
The event featured brief remarks from the Executive Director, Dr. Dessima Williams who credited the organisation as a major factor in the creation of many youth leaders in Grenada. The former academic and diplomat, now public official, reported that for the 2022-2o23 academic year, the organization supported a class of 36 (24 girls and 12 boys) recipients, one of the largest to date. The recipients come from Petite Martinique, Carriacou, St. David, St. George’s and St. Andrew’s. They are provided with academic lessons, leadership training, social and cultural outings, and a financial package that starts at EC$1,500 per student per year. Dr. Williams indicated that fundraising permitting, another 4-10 students will be admitted to the scholarship program.
Miss. Shayanne Date, GRENED alum, Graduate II teacher and board member who served as Mistress of Ceremony, began the event with a reflection on all GRENED has done in the last twenty seven years and gave credit to the organization for offering her the opportunity, years ago, to become a leader. She encouraged students to be appreciative of GRENED’s investment in their education.
Senator, the Honourable Gloria Thomas, Minister of State with responsibility for Social Development who was in attendance at the celebrations and who is a member of GRENED for over two decades were among those raising a toast to the organization’s sterling achievements.
Jasmine Lewis and Camron Blache, both students, expressed their gratitude and shared their journey in the organization and in life through poetry and testimonials. The mother of Ashida Thomas indicated that GRENED has influenced both her and Ashida into developing and utilizing their leadership skills through attending conferences and working to help other students in their communities as tutors. These testimonies provide valuable feedback and share on the impact GRENED has on empowering lives.
The anniversary event was also a celebration of achievement. One alum, Javin Noel who is an employee of GRENLEC, became the Vice President of the Grenada Volleyball Association and started the St. Andrew’s Ballers Association. This association is missioned to provide meaningful and engaging activities for the young men of Grenville. Another, Jalil Stephens is currently studying engineering in the USA. Current scholars, Christina Clyne, is a member of the National Women’s Football Team, and Deshonte Thomas and Dellisha Francois are members of the National Cricket Team. Their achievements were all recognised. They thanked GRENED for being a strong and positive force in their development and achievements.
Congratulations were extended to the four GRENED recipients who have successfully completed their education program and who will be graduating this year: Janaya David from Saint Joseph’s Convent, Grenville, Anna Pursue Thomas, Ashida Thomas and Deshonte Thomas, all from T.A. Marryshow Community College.
In 2022, GRENED also undertook two sustainable community development projects which involved tree planting in Balthazar, Telescope, and in the Grenville bus terminal. The body maintained a number of partnerships and continued to raise a budget that was nearly all donation-based, almost ninety percent from foundations and individuals abroad.
Following the sudden passing of former Board Chair (April 2022) and student advocate, Mr. Cosmos Joseph, the governing board and annual general meeting voted in a new chair, Dr. John Telesford. In a significant move for the organization which prioritizes youth leadership development through support for schooling and other forms of education, three alum made it on to the overall governing board: Martha Bowen, school principal as Vice President; Ali Carmichael, banker as Treasurer; and Shayanne Date, school teacher, as Alum Representative. Additionally, St. Andrew’s resident and Acting Chief Magistrate of Grenada, Ms. Francine Foster, serves as the Secretary to the Board.
The Anniversary celebration culminated with the dancing of the birthday cake, toasts, and fellowship. Toasts were raised by Honourable Gloria Thomas, school principal and community associate Mrs. Jennifer Rodney Lewis, representatives of the students, board and parents of GRENED. All wished for a multiplicity of successful years as an organisation that empowers and develops leaders through schooling and leadership activities. The event was held at the Rainbow Inn in Grenville where it was originally founded.
GRENED’s mission has been broadened beyond the scope of educational advancement and has understood the various socio-economic factors that affect families. Hence the continued pledge of commitment towards helping families and changing livelihoods.