A pillar of the Vincentian community in New York died on Monday, September 4.
Ambassador Vaughan Toney, 68 has been described as a stalwart in the Vincentian community whose “contributions are immeasurable”.
Originally from Calliaqua, Toney served as President and Chief Executive Officer of The Friends of Crown Heights Educational Centers, Inc in New York for the past 22 years.
“The Friends of Crown Heights Educational Centers throughout Brooklyn had become home and hosts to numerous Vincentian organizations and their events. He was also undoubtedly one of the largest employers of Vincentians in Brooklyn, employing countless persons at the institution. Mr Toney was synonymous with uplifting St Vincent and the Grenadines and its flag,” the St Vincent and the Grenadines Diaspora Committee of New York said in a Facebook post.
Toney’s career spanned more than four decades of “exemplary public service and advocacy in the fields of child care and early childhood education, legislative reform, community empowerment and political activism,” the Friends of Crown Heights said on their website.
He was the recipient of numerous awards and commendations celebrating his lifelong commitment and leadership in the service of others. In September 2022, he was formally accredited by the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines as an ambassador-at-large in recognition of his outstanding service to the Vincentian diaspora.
On receiving the designation of ambassador-at-large, Toney told those in attendance, “Let me say this: I have lots of recognition and awards in my office but there’s nothing more gratifying than to be recognised by your own people, the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines. So Let me say that I am humbled, I am honoured but above all I am inspired — inspired to continue to do the work that has brought me to this very moment.”
During the sitting of Parliament yesterday, Minister of Finance Camillo Gonsalves said Toney’s death is not just a loss to his family or the Vincentian diaspora, but to St Vincent and the Grenadines.
“He made sure to remain deeply connected the Vincentian community, to hire Vincentians in New York city and offer opportunities and advice to Vincentians there,” Gonsalves said.
Vaughan Peter Adrian Toney was born on June 29, 1955 in the town of Calliaqua. As a teenager, he migrated to New York in 1969 to join his mother Ela, a nurse.
The Friends of Crown Heights site said he died following a “fiercely fought battle” against cancer.