The West Indian Social Club of Hartford, Inc. will celebrate their 60th Anniversary with a Gala and Awards Banquet Saturday, May 1, 2010 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Cromwell, Connecticut.
The West Indian Social Club is the oldest running organization of its kind in the United States. The organization was founded in 1950 by migrant workers who were recruited from the Caribbean to work in the tobacco fields and factories of New England due to the manpower shortage resulting from World War II. Far from their homes in the Caribbean, the men met frequently to continue their traditions such as dominos and cricket. It was during these friendly gatherings that the idea to form a social and cultural organization evolved.
With the help of the late Attorney Leon Podorowsky, the West Indian Social Club was incorporated in October of 1950. John Richardson, served as the organization’s first President. Shortly after their incorporation, the West Indian Social Club established their home base at 353 Barbour Street in Hartford. Because membership of the club was restricted to males, women who wanted to join the organization formed the Ladies Auxiliary in 1954. Mrs. Connie Mills served as the Ladies Auxiliary’s first President.
As a result of imminent domain issues, the club was forced to relocate which allowed the City to build the housing project. In 1971, under the leadership of David Cooke, the organization secured their current Hartford location, 3340 Main Street which served previously as a roller skating rink and a furniture store.
In 1980, the Ladies Auxiliary was merged with the general membership of the organization. Rosemarie Tate, who would later serve as Secretary of the organization, became the first official female member of the organization. The merge of the Ladies Auxiliary and the general membership of the organization opened the opportunity for women leaders in the male dominated organization. Hartford Council woman, the Hon. Veronica Airey-Wilson was elected in 1989 as the organization’s first female president. She was followed by other female leaders which includes: Alred Dyce, Phd; Doreth Flowers and Doreen Forest.
Today, the West Indian American Center is utilized by members and other organizations for rehearsals, meetings, forums, cultural events, social affairs and other programs, which are important to the unified life of the community. The West Indian American Center also serves as a base for entrepreneurs who use the facility to host parties and other for profit events.
The West Indian Social Club is also home to four independent organizations which includes the West Indian Foundation of Hartford, Inc (a 501c3 recognized organization established in 1978); the West Indian Independence Celebration Committee (the organizing committee for events leading up to the annual Carnival parade, established 1962); the Cultural Dance Troupe of the West Indies and the Greater Hartford Lions Club of Hartford.
Under the current leadership of President Richard Gordon, Esq. the organization has over 200 members, which includes 27 living legends who have earned the distinguished status as lifetime members. Through their education and good and welfare committees, the members work together and/or collaborate with other organizations to present the following programs and events:
• Educational, skill development and training programs for the community;
• Scholarship awards to support the educational goals of our youths;
• Citizenship and immigration workshops;
• Economic and trade seminars;
• Annual children’s holiday fiesta;
• Programs that promote and celebrate Caribbean culture during Caribbean Heritage month;
• Black History and other cultural development programs; and
• Annual health fair and blood drive.
In this, the organization’s milestone year, 17 individuals and organizations will be recognized for their contributions and accomplishments.
Former Prime Minister of Jamaica, the Honorable P.J. Patterson ON. OCC. PC. LC., is the confirmed guest speaker for the Gala event. P.J. Patterson, Jamaica’s longest-serving Prime Minister led the island nation from 1992 to 2006. Following his premiership, P.J. Patterson chaired the Committee on Commonwealth Membership from 2006 to 2007. He is currently a member of the Global Leadership Foundation, a Non-governmental organization (NGO) composed of former statesmen, ex-presidents and Prime Ministers. In the wake of the recent earthquake in Haiti, he was appointed as CARICOM’s representative on the committee organizing the international conference for the reconstruction of Haiti.
Her Excellency Ambassador Glenda Morean-Phillip, S.C., Ambassador to the USA from Trinidad and Tobago and His Excellency Ambassador Anthony Johnson, Ambassador to the USA from Jamaica have both confirmed their attendance to the Gala.
Because of the anticipated large attendance, the organizing committee moved this year’s event off-site to the Crowne Plaza Hotel located at 100 Berlin Road in Cromwell, Connecticut. Music and entertainment will be provided by the New Release Band (calypso/reggae) from New York City; Hopeton Lewis (vintage reggae and gospel) and McCartha “Calypso Rose” Lewis (calypso/ soca/ gospel). In addition, Hopeton Lewis and McCartha “Calypso Rose” Lewis will receive special Lifetime Achievement Awards for their contributions to Caribbean entertainment.
For tickets and more information please contact committee co-chairs Marcia Anderson (860) 214-0192 or Leslie Perry (860) 306-1693.