St. Vincent and the Grenadines Organization of Pennsylvania (SVGOP) was established in February 1996, after the brain storming of a few Vincentians who saw the need for an organization to unite all Vincentian Nationals within the Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey community. The organization ratified its constitution and held its first election in December 1996. The following officers were elected: Kenrick W. Mitchell – President, Lystra Williams – Vice President, Cadwell King – Public Relations Officer, Joan Martin – Treasurer, Carol Grace Findlay – Assistant Treasurer, Cheryl Providence – Recording Secretary, Debbie Woods-Hypolite – Corresponding Secretary and Wimco McDowell and Reuben Roberts – Alternates.
Driven by our motto “Unity Our Goal – Support Our Aim” and out of commitment to keep Vincentian culture alive within our host country, the United states, we have developed strong alliances with many other Caribbean Organizations. Organizations within the Diaspora such as the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Nationals of Washington DC, Caribbean Organizations of South Jersey, Canouan United Social Organization, and the Council of St. Vincent & the Grenadines Organizations USA Inc., amongst many others.
For the past ten years, the organization has hosted an annual celebration commemorating the Independence of our nation, St. Vincent and the Grenadines. This event has become our medium for bringing Vincentians and other Caribbean nationals together to share and celebrate our history.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines Organization of Pennsylvania is noted as being the first Caribbean organization to host a head of state within the Pennsylvania area. In 2000, the independence celebration was held under the auspices of the former Prime Minster the Right Honorable Sir James Mitchell, and in 2003, the organization again hosted Dr. the Honorable Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minster of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Through the years, the St. Vincent and the Grenadines organization of Pennsylvania has actively participated in promoting Caribbean culture and sports. Members have contributed and volunteered at events such as the Penn Relays and Carnivals in New Jersey, Washington and Philadelphia. The organization takes great pride in its volunteerism program that includes work with Philadelphia Cares and the People’s Emergency Center. Most recently it ventured into sponsoring contestants for the Miss Caribbean USA Beauty Pageant. SVGOP has also participated in a blood drive in an effort to save the life of one of its sisters. Additionally, our annual school supply assistant program offers support to several schools in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. In keeping with the spirit of its motto “Unity Our Goal – Support our Aim”, the organization through the tireless efforts of its members did not hesitate in gathering many barrels filled with supplies and food that were shipped off to our sister island Grenada. This was in reponse to a request for relief because of the tremendous damage caused by Hurricane Ivan in September 2004.
In addition, the organization was instrumental in seeking medical assistance for many citizens of St. Vincent & the Grenadines, both at home and here in our immediate community. Elder Holder, an eight-year-old boy and a student of the Lowmans Leeward Anglican Primary School, was one of the fortunate Vincentians to be the recipient of this assistance. Elder Holder had a fall that resulted in serious head injuries. However, despite tireless efforts and support, Elder lost the fight for his life. He is greatly missed by family and friends.
Despite its youthful existence, the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Organization of Pennsylvania has played and active role within the Caribbean and American Communities in our immediate home twin states of Philadelphia and New Jersey, and have extended that role to the Washington DC and New York areas. It is with honor and great sense of national pride that we continue our efforts to unite Vincentians living afar from our beloved homeland.