Visionaires’ ‘Back 2 School Toy Drive’ is Postponed

Many books, games, and toy items were obtained in preparation for the Visionaries’ toy drive. (Photo by Nathan Dowell)

The Visionaires’ slated “Back 2 School Toy Drive,” originally scheduled for Jan. 6, is postponed until further notice. The organization wants to make sure that the health and safety of its members and those who attend are sound and well.

“We were thinking of the kids,” said Nathan Dowell. Dowell is the event organizer and president of the Visionaires. “Because it’s an outdoor event, and with people interacting with each other, listening to cases going up, we didn’t want no problems. We took it [COVID-19] into consideration.”

Nathan Dowell is the president of the Visionaires. (Photo submitted by Nathan Dowell)

Dowell said everything has a “trickle effect.” Not only was the group concerned about the safety of the children who would be receiving items from the drive, but they were also concerned about the well-being of parents, who would, in turn, have to tend to their children if they contracted COVID-19 and possibly have to miss work as a result.

The Visionaires is a non-profit organization that came together in 2020. It originally started as an entertainment group amongst talented friends in 2020 and evolved into a group of individuals who involve themselves in civic engagement in the St. Thomas community. After their last giveaway event, they decided to officially incorporate themselves.

“Not many know that this organization started off as a platform for artists to showcase their talents through music,” said Tre Petersen. Petersen serves as the vice-president of the group. “When we realized it wasn’t working out as well as we’d hope, we decided to go with a different approach because we weren’t going to let it stop there.”

Instead of focusing solely on music artistry, the members of the group decided that they would like to help others in a different way.

“From the beginning, the main goal was to give back, so Nathan and I agreed on that same goal and decided to turn this small platform into a community-based organization. The Visionaires is an organization consisting of young individuals who wish to provide safe services to the different age groups in our community,” said Petersen.

So far, the Visionaires have conducted two Thanksgiving turkey drives where they have given away more than 50 turkeys to Virgin Islands families. Their next giveaway was intended to benefit students, but the distribution of copybooks, loose-leaf paper, pens, pencils, and toys will have to wait. Future plans for the group include providing scholarships, and the Visionaries’ intention is to benefit members in the entire territory, not just the St. Thomas-St. John district.

Petersen said, “With the attention that this organization has gotten from start to present, I’d hope for nothing more than to build on what we have already accomplished. We’ve furthered our goals as far as wanting more for the community.”

The remaining members on the board are Nejah Ottley, who serves as the secretary, Liston Gumbs, who serves as the treasurer, and Cylysce Smith, who serves as the public relations officer.

More information about the Visionaires can be found on their Facebook page. To get in contact with them by phone, call 407-247-9634.