I am writing to BermudaReal.com to engage the populace and to remind them that Friday, February 13, 2015 is the deadline to submit nominations for Bermuda’s prestigious National Heroes.
As a child, I was one of many who was honoured to be taken in by the founder of the Sunshine League, Ms Agnes Mae Robinson, as we embark on another quest to name the country’s next National Hero to be added to the distinguished list of those who have already been selected and celebrated on Bermuda’s National Heroes list.
Ms Robinson founded Sunshine League in Bermuda in 1919. From humble beginnings, this institution was Bermuda’s very first social services organization, which has been in existence for nearly, and fast approaching 100 years.
The Sunshine League was originally founded for the sole purpose of giving young boys in Bermuda, who had no home through no fault of their own, a place to live. Ms Robinson witnessed young boys diving off the shipping docks in the City of Hamilton to retrieve pennies thrown out by tourists, which provided a source of income for food and other essentials just to survive and ultimately live.
Over the years, the Sunshine League functioned at a few locations. One of them used to be at the site where Heritage Hall stands now. But despite the challenges, the Sunshine League expanded to become become one of Bermuda’s first day care nurseries in 1929.
In 1931, the Sunshine League offered the first overnight care centre in Bermuda, and later developed into a 24-hour foster care home for Bermuda’s less fortunate children.
This institution provided leadership skills for its young occupants by enrolling young men into Bermuda’s Boy Scouts programme. And it was offered not only to the young male residents of the home, but to other children throughout the communities in Pembroke. All children were welcomed at the Sunshine League to join in its ever-expanding list of programmes.
Young boys were also enrolled in the TS Bermuda Sea Cadet Corps, back in the day when the programme was run at Admiralty House in Pembroke.
And in 1934, this institution – the Sunshine League, held the first official tag day recorded in Bermuda’s history to raise funds to support its cause. In 1950 it moved to its current location on King Street in Hamilton.
From 1992 through to 1996 the Sunshine League was accredited by the Bermuda National Standards Committee, and in 2011 it celebrated 92 years of existence. Needless to say, for people like me, the Sunshine League played a vital role in meeting the social needs of underprivileged children.
Having gained accreditation by the Bermuda National Standards Committee, the Sunshine League is to be commended for providing hundreds of young boy’s and later young girls shelter, food and services in spite of the fact that their families were not able to do so.
Ms Robinson, who is no longer with us, is to be commended and honoured for providing her many years of undying and unconditional support to under privileged children in Bermuda – in addition to the countless volunteers who assisted her during and after her many years of community service. Those volunteers continued her mission long after Ms Robinson passed away.
There were only two major points in the Sunshine League’s criteria that prevented any child from being accepted. Young resident occupants had to be two year of age and no older than 18 years old with no mental challenges.
Apart from that all children in need were accepted, and the Sunshine League was possibly Bermuda’s first integrated social settings for under privileged children who lived in one of Bermuda’s earliest institutions of its kind established in Bermuda.
On a personal note, my siblings and I were directly impacted by the services of this wonderful woman. Heaven only knows where we would have ended up if she had not taken up the mantra established by way of the home she established. I thank God for what she did; not only for me and my siblings; but for all of the great essentials and lifeskills she provided through the Sunshine League.
Notwithstanding my love for what this wonderful woman did for me and so many others, I nominate the distinguished Ms Agnes Mae Robinson to be our next National Hero Award recipient. And I formally submitted my nomination before the designated deadline.