Social Services Minister will partner with Reach Out Youth Organization to assist young people of Grand Bahama

Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Obie Wilchcombe was the keynote speaker at the launch of Reach Out Youth Organization’s “Save our Youth” program on Saturday, February 26, 2022 on the grounds of Reach Out’s headquarters.

By:Andrew Coakley/Bahamas Information Services

Bewildered over the pronouncement that the Reach Out Youth Organization in Grand Bahama has never received any government grant over the past fifteen years it has been in operation, Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Obie Wilchcombe says that situation has to change and has vowed to ensure that the organization begins to receive support from the Government of the Bahamas.

“My ministry is responsible for working with groups like Dudley’s and I’m so surprised to find out that he (founder, Dudley Seide) has not received support from the government,” added Minister Wilchcombe. “I’m shocked that his work has gone without getting financial support from the government, yet we give millions and millions away to others, many of whom are not doing what he’s trying to do.

“So, Dudley we will fix that problem. My Ministry is responsible for grants, so I can tell you that you will get a grant. Because the work that you’re doing, you’re partnering with me to make a difference in this country. This is Grand Bahama, my home. And every single day I’m appalled and angered, because I know that we can do better. I know that we have to work together to change the circumstances and if we do it together, yes, we can make a difference.”

Minister Wilchcombe’s promise to the founder of Reach Out Youth Organization came on the heels of Senator Kirkland Russell’s address during
which he pointed out that after 15 years of serving the island of Grand Bahama with feeding programs, grocery distributions, school supplies for kids at the start of every school year, breakfast feeding programs for children before school, shoes and tennis giveaways, clothing giveaway and other programs, the Reach Out program was not receiving any sort of grants from the Bahamian government.

Senator Russell said it was wrong that the organization was not placed on the government’s grants list. Minister Wilchcombe agreed and said that effective immediately, he would look into getting Reach Out Youth Organization on the government grant list.

Minister Wilchcombe’s and Senator Russell’s remarks came during the official launch of a new initiative by Reach Out Youth Organization entitled “Save Our Youth”, in which founder, Dudley Seide is looking to reach all youth in Grand Bahama and assist them with learning various sporting and career disciplines.

Standing with the Founder of Reach Out Youth Organization, Dudley Seide (fourth right), and some of the organization’s sponsors and workers, Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Obie Wilchcombe (centre) says his Ministry intends to work closely with Mr. Seide to address some of the social issues facing Grand Bahama. At right is Senator Kirkland Russell, who also spoke at the launch. (BIS Photos/Andrew Miller)

The launch took place on Saturday, February 26, 2022 on the grounds of Reach Out Youth Organization’s headquarters in Freeport. The Minister for Social Services and Urban Development said that he was happy to see what Seide and his organization was doing in Grand Bahama, to help change the present circumstances on the island, where many young people are being left behind. He said he saw the perfect opportunity for both his ministry and Reach Out Youth Organization to work together for the betterment of the entire island.

“Dudley, I want you to know that I’m coming back to talk to you about several programs that we’re beginning: One is our Urban Sports League,” said Minister Wilchcombe. “While we push a lot of basketball, there are kids who are not interested in basketball, but who love to play baseball, soccer, football, tennis and golf. They even want to fish.”

Minister Wilchcombe talked about a fishing program, which he is organizing in West End, in March of this year, which will bring a cooperative group to Grand Bahama to assist 25 young men in West End who have asked for assistance to start their own business in the fishing industry.

“We’re also going to begin an Urban Educational Scholarship,” Minister Wilchcombe added. “Too many of our young people are failing in our school system. Not just because of them, but because of the system. The reality is, how many men and women left high school without a diploma? What are they to do?

“What we’re going to do is reach out for those individuals and tell them that we want them back in the classrooms. We’re creating a special program for them. They must be given an opportunity. If not we will have in our society, functionally illiterate children and grown people who will find it almost impossible to get jobs. Let’s eliminate that. If we do that, we can make a difference.

“I applaud Dudley, because he has looked into the eye of the problem and has recognized that in order to solve the problem, action is required. I celebrate with him and all who have been working with him and the efforts they have made to make a difference.”