Love One. . . Teach One!
The Love One Teach One Foundation has one priority — children!
And Christmas is the time of the year when the foundation reaches out to children in grand style with its annual Etiquette Dinner.
This special event is mainly for members of its Youth Arm, which comprises youths from Bath Estate, Silver Lake and Yam Piece in the Roseau River valley.
Foundation director, Gloria Walsh explained that the dinner, which is in its fourth year, is now eagerly anticipated by the boys and girls from the targeted communities.
The event caters for about 40 invitees between the ages of 12 and 18, including some youths who are not yet members of the foundation.
Walsh said the foundation teaches etiquette and social skills to the youths and the formal three-course dinner allows them to demonstrate what they have learnt.
The meal features an appetizer, a main course and dessert. The dining area is well decorated, sometimes with the assistance of the Youth Arm members.
Invitees are encouraged to wear formal attire and they are expected to maintain perfect decorum during the event.
Walsh does most of the cooking for the dinner; however, the menu also includes dishes prepared and donated by civic-minded persons.
This year, the appetizer course is 'cream of pumpkin and callaloo soups served with garlic bread'.
This will be followed by baked chicken, stewed turkey, lasagna, yam-pie, potato salad, corn soufflé, ground provisions and tossed salad.
Sorrel drink and grapefruit juice will be served, and the guests will be treated to a dessert of ice-cream and cake.
Adults are usually invited to sit at the table with young guests and converse with them to help them practice their social skills.
The venue for this year's dinner has not yet been finalized, but Walsh hopes it will be held at Calypso House in Bath Estate.
She noted that the foundation also hosts a separate Christmas party every year for younger children under 12 years old.
Founded in 2005, the Love One, Teach One Foundation is a non-profit organisation formed to help create opportunities for disadvantaged children.
The foundation is headed by Gloria Walsh, who has teamed up with Anthony Williams and Hayford Lafond to help children, mainly from Silver Lake, Yam Piece and Bath Estate. "I used to work with Operation Youth Quake, but I wanted to do more for the community so I just branched off on my own…" Walsh said.
In the beginning, Walsh collaborated with the Roseau Primary School to provide lunch for the pupils, and she also organised an after-school programme.
"I used to cook from my home to give the children, especially those who were attending at the Roseau Primary School. We also used to have our little summer programmes. . ."
"We also had the Saturday programme with the children where I used to take them to the Botanical Gardens to recreate…the programme started to grow."
The foundation's initial feeding programme came to an end as the school took more responsibility for it.
At the moment, the foundation offers a Youth Leadership Camp, Summer School programme, and an Easter programme comprising resource sessions or workshops for youths. Love One Teach One also collaborates with the Peace Corps to do the annual Camp Glow held during the mid-year school break.
Camp Glow involves taking vulnerable girls to a retreat facility to teach them about personal health and hygiene.
The girls learn about Sexually Transmitted Diseases and are taught arts and craft and drama.
Another annual programme, 'Better me, Better you' is conducted by criminologist Dr Peter St Jean, a US-based Dominican.
It teaches young persons quality of life solutions, drama and leadership skills, to help boost their self esteem.
There is also a session on crime and violence, which also teaches family life solutions and conflict resolution techniques, among other skills.
The Love One Teach One foundation collaborates with Souls Organised for the Ultimate Purpose for a school supplies programme.
In addition, the foundation usually conducts a Jewels of Silver Lake parenting programme, which is on hold until next year because of the participants' commitments, Walsh said.
She said the intention is to help parents understand and accept their roles in parenting.
"What I saw maybe 10 years ago…was that children were being neglected . . . parents had no hope. . . some of them didn't have self esteem in terms of raising their children. . .
"I vowed to them I would make a difference and from that I never turned my back . . . even getting the parents to have a better idea about raising their children."
She said the foundation currently liaises with the Silver Lake Development Committee to organise meaningful community improvement projects.
It also collaborates with Child Fund Caribbean and Roving Caregivers to conduct parenting programmes in the Silver Lake area. Walsh— an acclaimed social activist— was the First Caribbean Internal Bank's Unsung Hero for 2011. She was also chosen as one of VF Inc.'s Phenomenal Women in 2013.