Indo-Guyanese Honoured in NYC
Two Indo-Guyanese were honoured by Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. last month when he hosted his second annual Guyana Day event. The special event was organized to recognize and honour Guyanese Americans for their contributions to development and charities in the Bronx, which is one of five boroughs that make up New York City.
Diaz is of Dominican Heritage. Titled, "Recognizing the Guyanese Community and those who work with them", Diaz noted that the Guyanese population in the Bronx has been growing ever since they first settled in the 1970s and our office wants to honor them for their dedication and sacrifices for the borough. Large numbers of Guyanese lived in the Bronx when they first arrived in New York before moving to Queens and other neighboring boroughs or counties.
Bronx had the lowest rentals at the time attracting low income immigrant groups. Many Guyanese continue to plant roots in the Bronx. Some 35,000 Guyanese are estimated to live in the Bronx where they have established their own businesses, mandirs, masjids, Christian churches, and cultural institutions. This writer lived in the Bronx for over six years before moving to Queens in 1983.
The Guyana Day on June 20 honoured Clarence Lilldharrie, CEO of his Security Systems (and President, CATS, Inc) and two others, including an American police officer (Detective Kimberly Ford, Patrol Borough Bronx, NYPD) who works closely with the Guyanese community. The other Guyanese is Community Honoree - Ravi Rampersaud, Program Director, ACACIA Network. Both were recognized for business acumen and commitment to Bronx.
Diaz praised Lildharrie for his dedication to and investment in the Bronx. It was also noted that Lildharrie has been very kind and compassionate towards worthy causes and that he is dedicated to development in the borough. Lilldharrie is an engineer by profession; he is an expert on building security.
The Bronx Borough President hosted the event in partnership with “The Guyana Independence Committee” to celebrate Guyana’s 51st Anniversary of Independence.
The event was held at the Guyanese owned Melanie’s Roti & Grill Bar Restaurant located in Bronx on Castle Hill Avenue where a large number of Guyanese and Trinis are settled. The restaurant specializes in Guyanese and other West Indian cuisine, combining both modern and traditional West Indian styles of cooking and offering a wide variety of delicious and authentic Guyanese foods and drinks. It is usually teeming with patrons.
The Borough President said: “Celebrating the 2nd Bronx Guyana Day is an exciting time to acknowledging the recent Independence Day of the country and more importantly, recognizing the growing Guyanese population in our great borough. It is a proud moment to acknowledge our borough’s diversity, the Guyanese community and those who work closely with them.”
The Bronx Guyana Day celebration included a cultural variety program that also featured speakers, singers, dancers and traditional food. The event highlighted the Honourees as well as the general Guyanese Community who are hardworking and dedicated members of the borough, business owners, city, state and federal employees, engineers and active residents.
Bharati S. Kemraj, Community Liaison, Office of The Bronx Borough President said: “I am very proud that Borough President Diaz is honoring three amazing individuals including two who are from Guyana and one who work closely with our Guyanese Community,” said
She added: “Not only is our community growing but they are contributing to everyday life, offering their services throughout New York City and as a proud Guyanese, I am honoured to be working for an Office that recognizes people like Clarence, Ravi and Detective Ford, who is not Guyanese but works closely to build NYPD and community relationships.”
Clarence Lilldharrie, in response said he is pleased that Guyanese living in the Bronx are being recognized for their charitable contributions, community activities, hard work and investment in development in the borough. He noted that several Guyanese are involved in economic development in the Bronx, and they hardly received recognition for their important work and contributions to the borough. He feels Guyanese and other immigrants should be recognized for their work and he is pleased that the Boro President has taken the initiative to honor outstanding Guyanese business personalities.
Lildharrie has been running a business in the Bronx for over 27 years providing important services to many businesses. He is in the business of security of homes, businesses, etc.
He notes that many businesses and wealthy people have moved out of the Bronx to Westchester and other counties over the years. “Bronx was being subjected to underdevelopment as people moved out from the 1970s. Vast areas of the Bronx were abandoned. Guyanese moved in”. It was noted that many buildings were burned and rendered inhabitable since the 1970s. Hard working immigrants moved in. Guyanese in particular helped to rehabilitate areas of the Bronx. They have transformed certain sections where no one wanted to live. Today, buildings in those areas have seen their real estate values doubled or tripled from twenty years ago. Said Lilldharrie, “This would not have been possible without the development put in by Guyanese and other immigrants”.
He has been associated with the Bronx Chamber Commerce. He said he was not attuned with one particular group but rather all ethnic groups and the overall development of the Bronx.
With regards to his award, Lildharrie said he received a phone call from the Boro President office saying the President would like to honor him in recognition of his contributions to the borough. The President was told about Lildharrie’s charitable contributions and his role in the development of the Boro. And the President’s Secretary informed him of the honor and whether he would accept it. He said he agreed to accept the recognition on behalf of the large Guyanese community in the Bronx.
Lilldharrie said he does not look for rewards or awards. “I just do things out of the pureness of my heart. I assist children charity for hospitals, Christian and Hindus groups”.
Lilldharrie assist with free security systems for charitable groups. He simply does things for the community at large and not necessarily for Guyanese alone. “This is my participation and contribution to society. Everyone must give back something and a lot of people do give back. I consider it my obligation to help worthwhile causes”.
Ruben Diaz said Clarence is most deserving of an honor. He said he is pleased to confer the honor on Lilldharrie and other Guyanese on the occasion of that country’s independence.
Lilldharrie said, “President Diaz is doing a good deed in recognizing the work of those who contribute to the development of our borough”.