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Sheryl Lee Ralph to Host Jamaica’s 51st Independence Ball in New York

By Andrea Daley

NEW YORK – There are many ways in which one show love for and allegiance to one’s country and for many it is done with great pride and a fervent desire to contribute and stay connected. Aside from the personal gestures to family, friends and loved ones, many actions are demonstrably `big vision’ and `nationalistic.’

And while many have left the shores of Jamaica in search of a greater opportunities for self and family, it is noteworthy than the `look backs’ and `give backs’ are in no way narrow but grand; with the belief that the nation will be better for it.

We see Diaspora efforts that are directed by individuals, groups and community organizations which all hold the same intrinsic message: “we may be away in other lands, but we still belong and hold dear this nation from whence we came.” We see off-springs and second generation Jamaicans embrace their heritage in ways that speak volumes and deliver big!

Passion for heritage

A shining example of this is daughter of the nation, noted actress, singer and activist, Sheryl Lee Ralph, who has flown the flag of Jamaica high for decades and championed the culture worldwide. Where Jamaica is concerned, she is never far behind. Her love and support for Jamaica is unquestioned. She currently serves as the spokeswoman for the nation’s National HIV response program, a role she relishes.

A passionate activist; she founded the Diva Foundation, (Divinely Inspired Victoriously Anointed); a 501(C)3 organization, created in memory of the many friends she has lost to HIV/AIDS.

This international effort focuses on raising awareness and funding on behalf of millions worldwide who suffer from the disease. Ralph has given back to Jamaica through the arts as well.

Sheryl Lee Ralph

One such standout is the Jamerican Film & Music Film Festival; which she successfully staged for a number of years, attracting the influential and powerful in that industry to the shores of Jamaica. The festival is credited with producing five SHOWTIME Filmmaker Finalists over its five year tenure.

On Saturday, August 17, she will serve as mistress of ceremonies at Jamaica’s 51st Anniversary of independence Ball, at the New York Hilton.

This marquee event is the highlight of social activities in the diaspora and serves to bring together the most influential and connected; those who spearhead philanthropic activities and who lead the charge to open channels of contribution to the homeland.

“I was so excited when I got the invitation to host the Jamaica Independence Ball in New York,”
said Ms. Ralph. “I remember so clearly, Jamaica’s first independence. My brother Stanley and I were chosen from a group of children in Mandeville to participate in a dance and song to perform for Princess Margaret when she came to visit the island. I will never forget that Independence Day as long as I live and I love celebrating the independence of our great island nation. I’m also looking forward to the fact that my mom Ivy Ralph, OD, has whipped up another gorgeous gown for me to wear for the evening. I love the fact that Jamaica has a prime minister who (as a woman) represents as a strong figure for the rest of the world. I love the fact that we are battling with things like human rights and as difficult as it is we are trying to bring it to the forefront of our society. I just love the fact that we’re a small nation trying to make the best of it and move forward in a positive light. I guess I’ve said all of that to say, I love Jamaica. I really love Jamaica.”

Community support

The 21 year old annual ball has received strong support from the community with corporations such as, Quality Auto Mall, Ford Motor Credit, Ford Motor Company, Caribbean Food Delights (Royal Caribbean Bakery), Fly Jamaica, Grace Foods USA, Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery and Grill, Gleaner Company USA, Tower Isle’s Frozen Foods, Carib News, Jet Blue, VP Records and Phoenix Beverages.
For more information, JICFI may be reached at 212 935 9000 ext 132 or 631-374-7811; email [email protected] or visit http://www.jicfi.org

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