republished from Caribbean Life
February 22, 2012
The legendary St. Lucian artiste and philanthropist Taj Weekes has been selected for the St. Lucia House Foundation’s Humanitarian Award for his selflessness and dedicated humanitarian efforts. Weekes will receive this prestigious award at the 33rd Anniversary of Independence Gala scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 25 at the Grand Prospect Hall, located at 263 Prospect Avenue, Brooklyn, New York.
A release from the Foundation states that it is honored to recognize Weekes, who is one of island’s most creative musical artistes. He has inspired many through his artistic and humanitarian endeavors. In 2007, Weekes founded a charity—They Often Cry Outreach (TOCO)—aimed at improving the lives of underprivileged Caribbean children through a variety of sports, health, and enrichment programs.
Weekes was named a Goodwill Ambassador by the International Consortium of Caribbean Professionals and recognized by a division of the United Nations. Through his music, Weekes addresses several crucial issues, including global warming, casualties of war, domestic and youth violence, diabetes and health, poverty, and the welfare of children.
In 2011, the internationally celebrated artiste returned home to participate in the World-Renowned Saint Lucia Jazz Festival for the first time. Later that year, TOCO collected generous donations of balls, uniforms, shoes, socks, and gear, as well as money to fund its mission trips. TOCO also collected 5000 shoe donations from various elementary schools. The shoes were sent to Haiti as earthquake recovery aid. In addition to their annual collection of soccer equipment, TOCO has expanded its program to include an annual toy drive and educational workshops.
In December 2011, Weekes returned to St. Lucia to launch TOCO’s First Annual Holiday Toy Drive, distributing toys to children in need and feeding the elderly at community center in Castries, Saint Lucia. In 2012, TOCO plans to expand to other Caribbean islands, with stops in Trinidad, Tobago, and Haiti; the group also plans a lecture tour targeting high schools and colleges across the Caribbean.
The upcoming Independence Gala marks the end of activities in New York to celebrate St. Lucia’s 33rd Anniversary of Independence from Great Britain. The activities were organized by the Saint Lucia House Foundation, an umbrella group of St. Lucian organizations based in New York City, Connecticut, and New Jersey in collaboration with the St. Lucia Consulate General in New York.