Feature Address by Dr. the Honourable Nyan Gadsby-Dolly at the opening of the San Fernando North Community Centre on June 12th, 2019

Good afternoon.

“Action without intention is meaningless and intention without action is impact-less” (Jay Shetty). Today our action and intention are clear – to provide a centre that will bring this community closer together. We at the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts are extremely excited to officially handover this brand new centre, knowing that it has the potential to become the centre of your community life.

As I listen to the words of former Member of Parliament and now Mayor, His Worship and Ms. Gloria Copeland and the efforts of building this centre it brought home very clearly to me and as I am sure it will to you who lives here that this centre was long awaited, hard sought for, advocated for and it will be put to the right kind of use in this community.

Many of you know that the foundation of this community centre holds insurmountable value. The legacy of our ancestors will always be deeply rooted in the foundation of this building, built on a place of great honour. As we give thanks to our ancestors and appreciate what was laid before us I know, in as much as the building has a foundation laid in a place of honour the operations of this centre will be founded on great values – a sense of compassion, care and empathy.

This afternoon, I take this opportunity to encourage you to continue to stay true to your motto: “Bringing the Community Together”.  When we work together, we are greater than the sum of our parts. When we work together, we bring unlimited creativity, passion, and expertise to the table. When we work together, we can achieve incredible things. I know that staff of our Community Development Division many of whom are present here value working together with all communities and certainly the community of San Fernando. The real wealth of a truly functioning community and a nation lies in its people.

As we open this beautiful building, it is privilege to salute those who have brought us to this moment. We say special thanks to our project managers UDECOTT, the contractor AG Mahabir Maintenance Company Limited and members of the Ministry Project Unit and Community Development team.

Given our country’s financial situation and understanding the needs of this and many communities, being able to deliver this community centre is truly a blessing.  Community members of San Fernando North, I hope you do feel bless after 11 years, being able to realize this dream is something we should all be proud of.

A community centre is hard fought for. There isn’t a MP who does not want just one more in this area because communities cry out for centres so that it is always a matter of priority, measure of advocacy of the Member of Parliament as well when a centre gets done in one area. Trust me there are at least 10 other persons who are vying for centre in their area. San Fernando North we are very happy to be in this area delivering this centre to you.

The investment we have made is not just in the physical structure but in members of this community. The real value of this centre is not in the building so much as what this centre means or will mean to all the members of your community. The Ministry has invested approximately sixteen million, eight hundred seventy-nine thousand, three hundred and twenty dollars and three cents ($16,879,320.03) in this centre. We know that this community centre buildings are more than just brick and mortar, we understand that. This centre represent dreams, opportunities and potential for all our communities. Thus, we continue in difficult times to make these investments as we recognize the value can go beyond what we can spend in dollars and cents.

This centre we sit in today is truly a lovely building well outfitted, and this is a symbol of our commitment to the people of this community.  Here you can have meetings, recreational activities, training programmes, here is where you can have knowledge transferred between generations. Here is where bonds can be formed, learn skills, celebrate marriages, resolve conflicts, and learn lessons. Here is where communities are sustained and our heritage is preserved. 

So now that you have a brand new community centre after 11 years, what’s next for San Fernando North?  I am sure some your minds are already turning over with your plans and your aims with what you want to do in this centre. The Mayor mentioned it and may I just put in a plug in as well for the Prime Minister’s Best Village Trophy Competition. Mayor do we have talented people here? Ms. Copeland? We have talented people here that’s so wonderful. So, we look forward to the entrants from San Fernando North in the Prime Minister’s Best Village Trophy Competition for 2020. We also take this opportunity to inform you that the Ministry does have free mediation services. Your centre allows you to take part in the free parenting programme and more. We look forward to our community development officers throwing that out to you as well as the opportunity to engage in of course the well-known and established Community Education programme where you can learn skills free of charge at your community centre. All of these are offered to you by the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts. I can imagine what some of the folks may be wondering what it may be like to celebrate their wedding here or their wedding anniversary or a family day or a talent show and the list goes on; all catering to the needs of this particular community. Whatever you choose to do, ensure that this centre is a strong focal point to create the opportunities for your young people, old people and those in between. Every member of the community must feel as if they have access to this centre just as much as anyone else and you the community have to hold them using it responsibly and in a productive manner.

I want to thank the Ministry’s team those at the Community Development Division, ably led by Director Susan Corbett, I want to thank the team at UDECOTT, I want to thank our project management unit and I want to thank our PS. Every division of the Ministry is involve in community centres, the legal team, the communications team, everyone is involve and I really want to thank the Ministry for going the extra mile to ensure that we deliver these buildings to our communities.    Everyone involved we are very grateful and I am sure that the community of San Fernando North is grateful for your effort because these centres as we said is more than just buildings. It really are a true symbol of dedication of the government to invest in people of Trinidad and Tobago and Sando North we are so happy that this is your time for this investment. Together as we use these centres and maximise their potential, we can certainly change our communities and bit by bit make Trinidad and Tobago a better place. Thank you all and God bless.