Open your hearts for celebration of community

  • Joining in the fun: David Burt, the Premier, meets youngsters last year at the Open Your Heart Foundation event (Photograph from Facebook)

    Joining in the fun: David Burt, the Premier, meets youngsters last year at the Open Your Heart Foundation event (Photograph from Facebook)

• The Good Friday Walk to Calvary in St George’s, which starts at Ebenezer Methodist Church at 10.45am

• St George’s Cricket Club hosts a family-friendly fun walk around the Olde Towne at 9am, followed by a fun day starting at 1pm

• St David’s County Cricket Club holds the Gilbert Lamb Fun Day, which kicks off at 11am

• Thousands flock to Horseshoe Bay, Southampton, for kites and revelry

• Open Your Heart Foundation’s Good Friday fun day starts at 11am at Royal Naval Field in Somerset

The community looks west tomorrow for Good Friday as a home-grown celebration of togetherness marks its seventh year.

The Open Your Heart Foundation’s free festivities, starting at 11am at Warren Simmons field in Somerset, is especially poignant this Friday.

Tianna Saltus, one of the core organisers, said the group had “taken a hit” with the loss this week of volunteer barber Antoine Seaman, 21, whose life was cut short in a crash early on Monday.

The Somerset group will also feel the absence of Taylor Grier, 30, lost to gun violence in August. Mr Grier helped out by hosting its Good Friday dance competition.

“They will both be a big miss,” Ms Saltus said.

But the foundation sprang, and thrived, from a heartfelt desire to bring people together at a time when gang violence had fragmented the community.

Ms Saltus, who will start cooking tonight with a team of volunteers, compared its success to the biblical feeding of the 5,000 from loaves of bread and fish.

“We don’t have a lot, but we always make it work — it amazes me every time we do it,” she said.

“We do so much; we are genuinely blessed.”

She explained that the foundation is not a charity but a grassroots movement that rose from a discussion in 2011 at Woody’s Bar in Sandys about “things happening in the community, gang violence, how nobody was leaving their neighbourhoods to go to big events”.

“It came from young black men committed to a better Bermuda, that genuinely care about the direction the island goes.”

She added: “Girls joined in because females make everything better. But the heart of it is young black men.”

Beyond its community celebrations on Good Friday and providing gifts on Boxing Day, the group helps needy families with everything from funeral costs and hospital bills to back rent.

Ms Saltus said: “Every dime we collect goes into the community. We don’t make any money; it’s all about giving back and fostering love and togetherness.”

The group donates to charities, adopts schools, and sponsors youth sports and events that are “inclusive and island wide”.

In September, the foundation held a camp for youngsters from around Bermuda on Paget Island in St George’s.

“We were hoping to create friendships outside their comfort zone,” Ms Saltus said. “At the end, nobody wanted to go home.”

There are many free offerings tomorrow in Somerset. After a long night of preparations, thousands of fish cakes will be given out and the full meals in the afternoon will include roast lamb.

Xtreme Sports and Play Games Entertainment will offer fun activities, including an inflatable castle and a 40ft slide.

DJs will bring the music, and in addition to haircuts and braiding, children can have their faces painted.

Mr Grier’s dance group, Bermuda Squad, will have a stage this year for the popular children’s dance competition, with the adults pitching in for the prize money.

Fresh Breath Dental will offer dental screening, while kite- maker Patrick Pedro will fly his creations.

Ms Saltus said: “We genuinely try to think of everything and everybody so that nobody feels left out.”

She added: “The best feeling is on the day of the event. I always make a point of going up the hill and looking out.

“Seeing all the people and the children, it warms you. You don’t need people to thank you.”

To pitch in, sponsor or get involved, contact the group at

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Published Apr 18, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Apr 18, 2019 at 6:38 am)

Open your hearts for celebration of community

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