KWASI ROBINSON, the chairman of the Tunapuna/Piarco Regional Corporation, took office as new president of the Heliconia Foundation for Young Professionals at an inauguration function for the new executive committee on Friday at the Bungalow Restaurant in St Clair.
San Fernando City Corporation councillor for Cocoyea Teresa Lynch took office as secretary.
Also appointed were eight vice-presidents. These were Tenielle Solomon (communication), Osei Benn (finance), Thandiwe Hove Masaisai (legal), Vyash Nandlal (marketing), Dr Annalese Percy (membership), Aneshia Beach (operations), Adam Raffoul (policy) and Marika Trim (projects).
Members each received their instruments of appointment and collectively took an oath to serve with impartiality.
The event also recognised the foundation's Tobago chapter chaired by Melissa James Guy, who were absent owing to scheduling conflicts. The Tobago executive also includes Janelle Wright (secretary), Jonica Romeo (legal officer), Akissi London (policy officer), Tasha Frank (projects officer) and Stephon Isaac (treasurer.)
PNM Youth League head Shenekah Kirton brought greetings to the foundation, which she hailed as a bridge for young people between education and employment, providing them with mentorship, fellowship and networking. She expressed a hope for collaboration between the league and foundation towards youth empowerment.
Minister in the Ministry of Housing Adrian Leonce said the foundation will provide TT with future leadership. He advised the foundation's executive members to always stay grounded so that their policies would reflect the will of the people.
"We listen to the ground," he said.
Leonce said people look towards leaders during hard times such as the covid19 pandemic, and urged the the executive to see themselves as leaders.
"You are the road map for the future of this nation."
Minister in the Office of the Attorney General Renuka Sagramsingh-Sooklal said a foundation member could be "a pretty person" but also had to stand for something.
She said it was "a cool thing" to serve and to do something for one's country, and hailed members for being ready to take up the baton of public service.
As the mother of two teenagers, she said she knew how important it was to get good mentors for them, even as she viewed the foundation as a network of mentors.
Robinson mulled the nature of change by asking guests to consider whether if all planks in a sailing ship were replaced over time, would it ultimately then be a new ship or the same ship? Likening the foundation to such a ship, he said it did not matter whether it was considered to be an old ship or a new ship but rather what was important was the meaning that the ship brought.
Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly, in her feature address, said it was good for young people to aspire to leadership, but also warned that such positions also brought responsibility, as the person could no longer act or speak just on their own personal whim but had to think carefully about what they said and did.
She advised leadership aspirants to remain teachable, as anyone thinking they had nothing to learn would lose opportunities for leadership.
"You can learn from friendship, adversity and criticism, even if you feel it is unfair."
The minister said anyone without noble intentions would sooner or later be found out. Gadsby-Dolly urged the new executive to retain their humility.
She advised foundation members to "step into your purpose." They should consider themselves to be present in order to contribute according to their purpose and despite challenges to be surmounted. She said an individual's role in life could change along their journey of discovery, even as she offered to assist members in all of this.
Minister of Youth Development and National Service Foster Cummings told guests never to be ashamed of where they came from or of who they were, even as they may face bumps in the road in their life journey.
"Know where you are going."