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Brighter Futures Center Grand Opening

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#TurksandCaicos, January 24, 2023 – The Salvation Army Brighter Futures Community Center held its grand opening Saturday, January 24th.  The event brought together supporters, dignitaries, and the general public in a celebration of a brand-new facility dedicated to the development of youth in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

“Tonight, we celebrate over ten years of fundraising, planning, and construction”, Salvation Army TCI Advisory Board Chairperson stated, “this facility will provide the children of our nation hope”.  Foss explained that he knew they could not raise the $2.6 million needed to purchase the land and construct the building by holding traditional fundraisers.  “We did not want to impact our regular fundraising which supports several programs such as the hot lunch program for at-risk students, textbook and school uniform initiatives, food insecurity assistance, the seniors’ transportation program in Middle Caicos, or any of the other good work that occurs regularly in our islands.  We focused on private donations, and even then, we were careful not to disrupt the funding of other local non-profits also doing great work”.

Foss explained that it took several years to get their first large donation.  A donation that gave them the confidence and hopes that they could eventually reach their goal, “the first major step toward the reality of what we were trying to do came when the Salvation Army Bahamas and the Salvation Army International organizations donated the funds to purchase the land, which we did immediately.  Before the land was purchased, I would go to people and ask them if they would donate to the facility and they would say, ‘where will it be built’? and I would have to say that I did not know yet.  People are generous by nature and they want to help good causes, but they also want to know that they are donating to something that is going to happen”.

Once the land was purchased and the site of the center was known, he states that things started to change when he approached possible donors, “now that we had a site, I could give my pitch with confidence and four years into the effort we received a $50 000 donation from Canadians Dale and Wendy Papke of Ports of Call.  That donation gave me hope.  While we managed several $5000 and $10 000 donations, we still had a long way to go until I met the David and Julie Brown family, also from Canada.  The Brown family loves the Turks and Caicos Islands and makes it their home many months of the year.  They also care about young people and want to provide as many opportunities as possible.  They were game changers with a total commitment of $750 000 toward the project.”

In his address to the crowd on Saturday night, Foss explained that it was not just money that was needed to get the project built, but expertise and assistance.  “Not only did the Brown Family offer critical financial support, but the entire family also including their son Kyle helped me produce a marketing plan and materials.  When you have like-minded caring people helping you do the heavy lifting, it becomes easier to move forward.  We found an amazing contractor in Phillip ‘Skintight’ Handfield to build the facility at cost.  Another huge step forward occurred when Mark and Anna Parrish offered their support.  Mark, owner of the quantity surveying firm Concept Plus agreed to project manage the construction process as a volunteer.  Anna donated all the stone and ceramic tiles along with most of the windows for the building”.

The volunteer Advisory Board Chair said momentum was on their side and they began building the facility before they had all the funding needed in place.  He stated, “we had momentum, and we didn’t want to lose it by waiting for all the money and we were confident once people could see the construction occurring, they would lend their support.  We started the build just before the pandemic and were cruising along with donations continuing to come forward.  However, during the pandemic, the cost of construction materials began to rise dramatically and suddenly we were going to be short approximately $200 000 to cover the increases.  I made an appeal to the members of the Turks and Caicos Hotel and Tourism Association (TCHTA) and within forty-eight hours we had raised the extra funds to complete the facility.  It was an incredible show of caring corporate citizenship”.

The building consists of the Salvation Army church, a large multi-purpose event center, an early childhood education classroom, and a commercial community kitchen to be used to supply hot lunches to at-risk students in government schools, counseling rooms, and the Salvation Army TCI administration offices.  Eventually, the facility will include a community garden and will become a certified hurricane shelter for the general public.

Foss said he and his wife Leslie, a volunteer responsible for all Salvation Army TCI fundraising events, are humbled by the opportunity to be involved and excited to see the building completed and in use.  Most importantly, Todd Foss let it be known that the theme of the building is Hope and that it will be home to other non-profits offering hope to the youth of Turks and Caicos, “since 2007 the Salvation Army TCI has done amazing work in our country, all without a permanent facility.  Not having a facility made things challenging.  We want other youth-based non-profit organizations to call the Brighter Futures Community Center home so they can expand their work.  We are excited to offer the use of the facility to Jr. Achievement TCI, the TCHTA Little Chefs program, the TCHTA Hospitality Program, The TCI Youth Parliament, the Police Youth Band, and others.  In addition, we look forward to joint partnerships with amazing organizations such as the Ed Garland Youth Center”.

As the facility began to rise, so did violent crime among the Island’s young population, making the Brighter Futures Community Center more important than ever.  Foss suggested that “too often I see people suggesting that troubled youth is a government problem to solve, or it is the parent’s fault, or I hear a lot of what is the Governor doing or why are the police not arresting all the bad people.  The truth is that at-risk youth is a complex issue with no easy solution, but whatever the solution it is up to all of us to be a part of it.  The Salvation Army TCI Brighter Futures Community Center’s purpose is to bring Hope to the youth of our country and Hope is the best tool to guide young people down a path towards a positive life”.

Sponsored by the Salvation Army Bahamas and the generous donations of Mr. Frank Crothers, the Salvation Army began work in Turks and Caicos in 2007.  In 2011, it became the 131st country to receive official country status within the organization.  Formed in 1865, the International Salvation Army operates in 133 countries and is the second-largest non-profit organization in the world.  It is an integral part of the Christian Church with objectives to advance the Christian religion while providing important humanitarian work in education, relief of poverty, and other charitable efforts benefiting society and the community of mankind as a whole.

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NATIONAL SECURITY SECRETARIAT INFORMATION NOTE ISSUED MAY 17, 2024

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May 21, 2024 – The Turks and Caicos Islands have clear laws prohibiting the possession of firearms and or ammunition without a licence and strict penalties in order to serve and protect the community. Our Firearms Ordinance, which was amended in 2022, states that:

No person (other than a licensed gunsmith in the course of his trade) shall have in his possession, discharge or use any firearm or ammunition unless he is the holder of a firearm licence with respect to such firearm, or in case of ammunition he is the holder of a licence for a firearm which takes that ammunition.

Firearm and/or ammunition offences carry a mandatory minimum custodial sentence of twelve years plus a fine. Where a court finds there are exceptional circumstances, the sentencing judge has discretion, under the law, to impose a custodial sentence and a fine that are fair and just in the circumstances of each case rather than impose the mandatory minimum.

The Chief Justice is advancing sentencing guidelines in respect of the application of exceptional circumstances. Wider work is also ongoing with criminal justice partners to review the efficiency and effectiveness of case progression, in driving justice outcomes.

It is the traveller’s responsibility to ensure their baggage is free of firearms and/or ammunition. Permission from an airline carrier does not constitute permission to bring firearms or ammunition into the Turks and Caicos Islands. Travellers are also strongly advised to search their luggage before they travel to the Turks and Caicos Islands to ensure they do not bring in forbidden items inadvertently. Such offences will result in arrest.

The Turks and Caicos Islands is a British Overseas Territory with a common law legal system, and reserves the right to enforce its laws. All persons, including visitors, must follow lawful process.

The Turks and Caicos Islands welcomes all visitors but reminds travellers that persons in the Turks and Caicos Islands do not have a constitutional right to carry firearms. Equally, the importation of firearms, ammunition (including stray bullets), and other weapons is strictly forbidden, unless licence to do so has been issued by the Commissioner of Police.

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CTO to Focus on Aviation at Caribbean Week in New York

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New York (May 16, 2024) – Celebrating its 35th anniversary, the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) is set to spotlight the future of Caribbean aviation during Caribbean Week in New York, scheduled for June 16-21, 2024, at the InterContinental Times Square in midtown Manhattan.

Under CTO’s annual theme “Connecting the Globe, Celebrating Diversity”, the week promises a diverse lineup of activities emphasizing innovation and connectivity.

A key feature of the premier event for travel industry professionals, journalists and members of the Caribbean Diaspora will be the Caribbean Airlift Forum.

Rosa Harris, Chairman of the CTO Board of Directors and Spokesperson for Caribbean Week, will moderate the forum. She emphasized the importance of this session as a critical platform for discussing the challenges and opportunities in Caribbean air transportation.

The session will cover topics including route development, aviation competitiveness, partnerships, infrastructure investment, regulatory frameworks, and market demand strategies. It aims to foster dialogue among airlines, airports, tourism authorities, and aviation ministries, enhancing connectivity and optimizing access to Caribbean destinations.

“In the wake of the pandemic, Caribbean aviation has shown remarkable resilience and adaptability, rebounding strongly in key areas. However, as we celebrate these gains during our Caribbean Week in New York, it’s crucial that we don’t become complacent,” stated Harris.

“We must continue to innovate and address the persistent challenges within intra-regional tourism, which, while recovering, remains a challenge for many of our destinations,” she continued. “Our focus at the Caribbean Airlift Forum is not only on celebrating our successes but also on critically analyzing our challenges to strengthen and diversify our connections to, from and across the region, ensuring a more robust and connected Caribbean.”

The week also features a Business and Tourism Marketing Symposium, the Caribbean Media Awards, and sessions focused on artificial intelligence, crisis communications, and multicultural marketing.

With the support of headline sponsor, the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Investments & Aviation; gold sponsors Cayman Islands Department of Tourism and the United States Virgin Islands Department of Tourism; and Diamonds International and the Caribbean Media Exchange, Caribbean Week in New York 2024 is poised to be a pivotal meeting for tourism professionals and stakeholders in the region and the Diaspora.

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CHTA Launches Multi-Destination Media Trip to Showcase Caribbean Interconnectivity and Diversity

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May 21, 2024

 

The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) is gearing up for its first multi-destination media trip, designed to illuminate the interconnectedness and diversity across the Caribbean. Scheduled from May 17 to 27, this initiative will showcase the vibrant cultures, breathtaking landscapes, and unique experiences spanning St. Lucia, Barbados, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.

Nicola Madden-Greig, President of CHTA, expressed enthusiasm for the program and stressed its significance: “This initiative is a testament to the collaborative spirit and interconnected nature that define Caribbean tourism. Our goal is to showcase the diverse offerings of St. Lucia, Barbados, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, inspiring travelers to explore the myriad experiences our region has to offer.” Although the Dominican Republic had to withdraw due to unforeseen circumstances, there are plans to include the nation in future endeavors of this nature.

Madden-Greig reiterated, “The Caribbean is often thought of as one homogenous place, so if you have seen one island you have seen the Caribbean. This trip will debunk that myth and truly showcase the diversity, mystique, and cultural prowess of our distinct islands. Just like you can explore many destinations in Europe having totally diverse experiences, the Caribbean offers the same opportunity.”

Developed in collaboration with the Jamaica Tourist Board, Jamaica Hotel & Tourist Association, Saint Lucia Tourism Authority, Cayman Islands Department of Tourism, and Cayman Islands Tourism Association, the itinerary promises an immersive experience. Participants will enjoy the stunning landscapes and beaches of St. Lucia, indulge in an exciting layover in Barbados, discover the culture and radiant beauty of Jamaica, and experience the iconic sites of the Cayman Islands.

Strategically timed to coincide with Caribbean Travel Marketplace from May 21 to 23 in Jamaica, the media trip aims to maximize the event’s networking opportunities. Journalists can enrich their coverage of the multi-destination experience with insights and connections from the region’s premier tourism conference.

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