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Nov 15, 2009 News
Hilbert Foster is a ‘Special Person’
“My greatest satisfaction comes from the role I play in guiding so many youths away from society’s ills and watching them become responsible adults
By Sean Devers
It has been said that God helps those who help themselves, and 40-year-old Berbician Hilbert Gardiner Foster is proving this true every day as he works to save lives through his work at the Rosehall Youth and Sports Club (RHTYSC)
A dedicated father, social worker, cricket administrator and a God-fearing human being, Hilbert is the youngest son of former Minister of Trade Hilbert Spence and housewife Claudette Foster, and he is largely responsible for the tremendous success of the RHTYSC.
“What we have achieved at the RHTYSC is nothing but a miracle. We started from nothing and today hold the prize of the best. I would not exchange my position for anything in the world and would do it all over again. No amount of money, gold or power can replace the feeling of making a difference in the lives of the less fortunate,” Foster said emphatically.
Apart from producing several outstanding cricketers for Berbice and Guyana, the RHTYSC contributes towards the eradication of poverty, illiteracy and crime at a time when economic hardships, a lack of education and the lure of a quick ‘buck’ are helping to produce teenage criminals by the handful. The club also gives back to society through its humanitarian programs in an area in Berbice where the use of drugs and alcohol is high.
“As Secretary/CEO I am responsible for the day to day operations of the club and over the last seventeen years we have been successful in developing a family culture where we work with each other, share each other’s achievements, cry together over defeats and try to solve problems together.
The RHTYSC is one big multi-racial, multi-cultural group of about 300 members and we have followed the same formula for success over the years – sheer hard work, dedication, belief in our work, zero tolerance on indiscipline, dishonesty and an unbreakable faith in the God we serve,” Foster, who turns 41 on the 5th of December informed.
The father of nine year-old Marissa is usually in the office each day at 08:30hrs and rarely leaves for home before 18:00hrs. His club work continues at home until sometimes up to 03:00hrs.
“People see the progress and success but what they do not see is the personal effort and sacrifice that ensures every plan is almost perfect. I hate the word failure and I get upset if every detail is not looked after because we have a high reputation to uphold. Every month over the last twelve years, I have made it my duty to come up with one new idea for the club and then to work my brains out to make it reality” Foster informed.
Growing up, Foster was a child who kept to himself and says he was described as a loner. Today, due to his position at the RHTYSC, he interacts with people more easily but still prefers his own company.
“I don’t drink, smoke or have a big social life and it is straight home after a day at the office. My idea of relaxation is reading the papers or a novel. In the evenings I watch CNN or TV series like CSI, White Collar, Monk, NCIS or Law & Order. I live a very simple life and I am perhaps the only CEO in the World whose only form of transportation to work is my old faithful bicycle. Happiness for me is making a positive difference in the lives of others especially youths, the less fortunate and the elderly,” Foster reiterated.
Foster, who attended the Rose Hall Town Primary, New Amsterdam Multilateral and the Lower Corentyne Secondary Schools is a pro-active person whose first job was a Teller/Clerk from 1986-2002 at the Guyana National Cooperative Bank.
His true calling was however playing a direct role in the development of youths and he has been the Secretary / CEO of the RHTYSC since 2002.
Helping others was something that was deemed important since he was a little boy and his elder brothers (Keith Foster- President of the RHTYSC and Berbice Cricket Board and Alex Foster – President and Executive Director of the International Award Winning St. Francis Community Developers) are also making a difference in the lives of the less fortunate.
“In 1981, at the tender age of twelve my mother joined me and my brother Alex into the youth arm of the Port Mourant Catholic Church and from my first day at the church I felt at home doing things to assist others. The pace increased in 1986 when a bunch of twelve young Catholics, including myself, re-launched the Youth Club with my brother Alex as the leader and Father Arnold Wong as our spiritual advisor,” Foster said.
“Father Wong taught us to think outside of the box and to get involved in activities to touch the lives of others. President Desmond Hoyte also became a part of our lives and encouraged us to be role models to our peers,” he continued.
Foster grew up in a household of five; with him were his Grandmother Josephine, whom he described as the undisputed leader of the family, his mother Claudette who was a tough single parent and his two brothers.
“I grew up in a poor but loving family. My grandmother and mother taught us to be proud, that education is the key to success, to be respectful to others and to love your God no matter what. Most importantly she taught us to always remember that no matter how poor you are, there is always someone poorer than you. Those two women were the foundation of our success and they kept our family together through difficult times,” the burly Berbician explained.
Foster said that while many youths of his generation wasted their lives away with drugs, crime and sex, he and his brothers were taught that success comes through hard work, discipline, education and dedication.
“My grandmother and mother dedicated themselves to making sure that my brothers and I became respected persons despite coming from a poor background and taught us the positives in life. My two brothers are also my role models as they protected and guided me during my younger days,” Foster disclosed.
He has been married to Sylvia Foster since June 1997 and he says his wife has been his inspiration and soul mate
“Marrying her was the best decision I ever made. I would not be the person who I am today if she was not there to encourage me and take care of me. I am the proud father of nine-year-old Marissa whom I call my little angel on earth. No matter how tired I am after a day at the office, she always brightens my life when I see her. She is without doubt my greatest achievement,” Foster revealed.
Although the RHTYSC is hailed by many as the most progressive sports club in the county and has become one of Guyana’s top cricket teams which recently produced Berbice’s last West Indies senior player in Royston Crandon, the club, located at the Area ‘H’ ground is less than 2 decades old.
“In 1990, there was so much we wanted to do to help the youths but our links to the Catholic Church was limiting our ability to do so. Every day we saw that our fellow youths were losing the battle to drugs, crime, premarital sex and the evil ways of Satan,” Foster related.
The youth club decided that in May1990, Foster should leave and form the Rose Hall Town Youth and Sports Club with the main aim of offering sports, education and culture as an alternative to a life on the road and the evil ways of Satan. Other aims for the club were to get the youths closer to the God they believe in, to improve facilities for youths and to make a positive difference in the lives of the less fortunate and elderly.
“My elder brother Keith, some close friends and retired sportsmen got together and in September, 1990 the RHTYSC was formed with a membership of eighteen. We had no funds, no gear, no uniform, no office, no staff…. nothing at all but a dream to assist others and to become the best club Guyana ever had,” Foster revealed.
He served as the Club’s Public Relations Officer from 1990 to 2002 and took over as the CEO in May 1992 and has served in that position ever since.
The club now has over 100 activities and programs each year under several sub-headlines- Sports, Culture, Education, Social, Community Development, Economic, Charity and Religion.
It has produced Esuan and Royston Crandon, Assad Fudadin and Delbert Hicks – all national players. RHTYSC has also produced 16 junior national cricketers and 46 overall for Berbice at the levels.
At a time when the GCB is doing very little to really develop female cricket, RHTYSC is one of the few cricket clubs to have a female section and has produced three West Indies female cricketers- Erva Biddings, Shermaine Campbell and Tremaine Smartt who now plays for New Amsterdam team Bermine in male cricket.
The club has won over 22 Berbice cricket titles at all levels and National titles in 2004 and 2005, the years they won the Club of the Year Awards. They were Runners-up this year in the National first division One-Day competition.
Foster is especially proud that the club has held a cricket academy for the last twelve years, and is the only club in Guyana to have monthly television programmes and an annual youth review magazine since 2000. The Corentyne club has for the last 19 years held an annual awards ceremony where over $2 million in prizes are shared out to members.
Foster, the pillar that RHTYSC stands on, says the organization led the restoration of the Area ‘H’ Ground in 1996 by raising and investing over $15 million on the venue.
They also led the restoration of the Lower Corentyne Secondary School in 1990-1992 by raising and investing about $2 million into repairs at the school.
RHTYSC are the Organizers of several Cricket tournaments in Berbice including Busta Champion of Champions, Sprite 20/20, Kool Kids 20/20 for schools and Eric Lewis Memorial, has handed out over 3000 educational scholarships to less fortunate students and about $30 million in educational materials throughout Berbice, shared out over $40 million worth of clothing, footwear and household items to the less fortunate over the years, assisted hundreds of schools, NGOs and clubs with over $8 million worth of sports gears and equipment over the years and hosted the Guyana, Trinidad, Jamaica, Leeward Islands and Barbados Cricket team over the years and the list goes on.
Among those honoured by the club are Roger Harper, Carl Hooper, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Richie Richardson, Chris Gayle, Courtney Walsh, Courtney Browne, Joseph ‘Reds’ Perreira and Sherwin Campbell, while the entity hosts several programmes including an Annual Summer Camp, Annual Ms. Region 6 Fashion Show, Tribute to Heroes, Tribute to Retired Outstanding Teachers, Annual Children Mash Parade, Weekly Feeding of the Poor Programme, Annual $2 million Christmas Charity programme, Youth Job Fair, Ramnaresh Sarwan Educational Trust Fund, Patricia Moniz Trust Fund, Region 6 Mother and Father of the Year Awards Scheme, Valentine’s Day Role Model Couples Awards among dozens of others.
“Over the last twenty years there have been numerous proud moments for the club and I. Neil Williams becoming our first Guyana player in 1995, Assad Fudadin man of the final performance at Lords in 2000 (for West Indies U-15 team in youth World Cup), winning our first title at the second division in 1992 and winning our first national title in 2004 at Blairmont are a few that stand out,” Foster proudly said.
“My greatest satisfaction comes from the role I play in guiding so many youths away from society’s ills and watching them become responsible adults. James Fraser went back to school in his early 2000’s and today is a senior officer in the GDF. Assad, Delbert, Esuan, and Royston joined the club as little boys and today are senior national cricketers. We have touched and saved thousands of lives and that is my greatest achievement. Every day that we feed the less fortunate, clothe the naked and assist a child to stay in school. These are the reasons I enjoy doing what I have dedicated myself to do.
There is not a better felling in the world that when you see a little boy or girl smile and tell you thank you for making a difference in their lives,” Foster said with plenty of emotion.
“Several persons during my life have inspired me. They include Father Wong and Father Menezes of the Catholic Church, my high school English teacher Leila Jailall and former Guyana President Desmond Hoyte who was a father figure to me,” Foster disclosed
He added long serving local cricket Administrator Carl Moore taught him that education is the key to success and also says David Burgess, Gregory Rambarran of DTV-8 and Mrs. June Mendes have also given him valuable advice.
Apart from being the CEO of the RHTSC, Foster has been the Public Relations Officer- St. Francis Xavier Roman Catholic Club (1986-1990), Chairman –Lower Corentyne Secondary School Restoration Committee (1989-1992) PRO- Berbice Cricket Board, Chairman- Berbice Cricket Board Special Events Committee, Editor-in-Chief of the RHTYSC Youth Review Magazine 2000 to date and Advisor- Friends of St. Francis Committee from to date.
Foster Attended CYP Youth Leadership Seminar in Grenada in 1997 and represented the Club at the United Nations Rights of the children conference in 2002 at the U.N Head Office in New York and is the Host/ Producer of the RHTYSC monthly
Television programmes ‘focus on youths’ and ‘Cellink Musical’ since 1998.
While his name is not among the more famous in this country he has done more than many other much more recognised individuals and was the Winner of the Commonwealth Youth Service Awards Scheme in 1992. He was also honoured by the Guyana Cricket Board for his contribution to Cricket in 2007 and by the Rose Hall Town Interim Management Committee in May 2009 for Outstanding Contribution to Youth Development.
Foster dedicated his selection as this week’s Kaieteur News ‘Special Person’ to his family especially his wife Sylvia, daughter Marissa, parents Claudette and Hilbert, late grandmother Josephine and his two brothers. “I also dedicate it to all my close friends and the entire management and members of the club because without them nothing would have been achieved,” Foster said.
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