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ONE MAN’S DREAM BECAME A SHARED VISION – The Anguillian Newspaper – The Weekly Independent Paper of Anguilla

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In the first part of the inspirational story of Mitchelle “Mitch” Lake, we followed Mitch’s journey from when he first started playing tennis at eleven years old to when he started the Anguilla Tennis Academy on the Ronald Webster Park with 35 children – which grew to 150 students by the third year of its existence.
Mitch promised to build a tennis facility for the children attending the Academy. Still in his early twenties, he was intent on turning that promise into reality. He knew he needed a plan, land, and money.
Mitch relied on a powerful and moving story, enterprise, intuition, his persuasive skills, and the power of relationships to help him achieve all three goals.

A Plan, Land and Money for the Anguilla Tennis Academy
Mitch approached Mr. Myron Goldfinger, renowned architect and developer of Altamer and Covecastles, for a plan for the Tennis Academy.
Mitch’s pitch to him went like this:
“Mr. Goldfinger, you have been investing in Anguilla for 25 years. You developed our coastline and you turned it into gold using the tip of your finger.”
Mr. Goldfinger thought that was an intriguing statement being made to him as an architect. Mitch continued, ‘I would like you to give back to Anguilla. I want you to design a world class Tennis Academy.’
Mr. Goldfinger asked, ‘Why world class?’ Mitch replied, “Because we have world class children.” He said, “OK, get me a sketch.”

Mitch’s Father, The Late Calvin Washington Lake

Mitch got his roommate, Steve Beggs in the United States at the time, who had artistic drawing skills to outline a plan. Mr. Goldfinger’s signature style is circles, so he took a facility designed in squares and turned them into circles. On completion, he turned over US$300,000.00 worth of drawings and renderings to Mitch.
Mitch approached the Government of Anguilla and said he has raised US$300,000.00 dollars in drawings and renderings, and that he wanted them to put up land for the development of the Tennis Academy. They thought he was crazy. Mr. Goldfinger flew in to help Mitch make his case. The Government gave him six (6) acres of land to develop the facility on a 99-year lease. This was a US$300,000.00 value in land from the Government as well.
Mitch then went to Covecastles and told the guests and owners of the villas he had raised US$600,000.00. He approached Joe and Carol Rich, owners he knew at Covecastles first. He asked them for US$25,000.00 cash and the use of their names. They were so impressed by Mitch’s tenacity and vision for the children of Anguilla that they gave him the US$25,000.00 dollars requested.
He needed permission to use their names as his plan was to approach the owners of the other villas at Covecastles and ask them to match. Amazingly, Mitch raised US$125,000.00 to start the Anguilla Tennis Academy from the other six villas at Covecastles.
A Relationship with his Father Fostered Through the Building of the Anguilla Tennis Academy
Mitchelle and his father, the late Calvin Lake, never saw eye to eye on tennis. His father saw no value in playing tennis. He thought that Mitch should follow in his footsteps and become a jack of all trades. Mitch did not like construction work, or the feel of cement on his hands, and would constantly wash his hands. This led to his hands getting soft and peeling and turning to blisters – and him being unable to hold the tennis racquet. Because of this, he argued about going to the construction sites and the relationship with his father became antagonistic. His father would say, ‘If you don’t do what I say, you don’t live at my house.”
Mitch’s father supported his children but never showed up in person for any of Mitch’s personal achievements. However, this all changed when Mitch showed his father the plans and renderings for the Anguilla Tennis Academy. For the first time in Mitch’s life, his father closed his store and showed up, and took a front seat at the launch for the plans for the Anguilla Tennis Academy held at Paradise Cove.
It was a turning point for Mitch in the development of the Tennis Academy. This was the beginning of a special bond between Mitch and his father. They would talk for hours every night. When Mitch would worry or wanted to give up, his father would say remember the words of Bob Marley ‘Every little thing is gonna be alright.’ Mitch would keep saying this when he hit a snag during the building of the ATA and somehow the problem would be resolved.

Mitch’s father, the late Calvin Washington Lake, passed before the building was done but he put in place persons to help Mitch along the journey. These included Jeff Richardson, who was the contractor, and Hugo Rey, Project Manager, who mentored Mitch along the way.
Just before Mitch’s father passed, he said these prophetic words, ‘I saw it. It is done. It is so pure that people will come from diverse places to help you. You will not know them, but they will know you.’
He was right. People heard Mitch’s story and wanted to meet the man with this vision and story. Donations began to pour in from all over the world.
When the Anguilla Tennis Academy opened in 2007, Mitch put an empty chair for his father – to signify his presence at the ceremony. Before his passing, he told Mitch, “It is finished.” Mitch could feel his presence and knew he was smiling.
Today, people are still showing up and donating to the ATA in significant ways. Eighteen (18) years later, his dad’s words still ring true, and his prophesy continues to be fulfilled.
Mitch shared:
“All my life, I was seeking my dad’s approval. When he showed up for the launching for the Anguilla Tennis Academy I knew it was a special project that would become a win-win situation. While I was fulfilling a promise to the children to build a world class facility for them, I was getting a relationship with my father. Ironically, this was through the same sport that almost divided us. That motivated me to put so much into it because it intertwined with building and construction which he was great at, and I was able to get his knowledge in the process. While the children were getting a facility, I was getting a relationship with my father – a win-win situation for everyone involved.”

One Man’s Dream became a Shared Vision – The Cause was greater than the Cost
The story of the Anguilla Tennis Academy spread rapidly, and people began to buy into Mitch’s vision. The dream and the vision were so powerful that people wanted to be a part of something pure. This allowed for the creation of the Anguilla Tennis Academy. Donations came from local, regional, and international donors to build the Anguilla Tennis Academy.
Over five thousand (5,000) children have passed through the Anguilla Tennis Academy – local, regional, and international. Since its inception, thirteen (13) children have been awarded tennis athletic scholarships to Top Division 2 Universities across the USA, received numerous awards, and excelled in both the classroom and on the tennis court. An average tennis scholarship amounted to US$100,000.00 over a four-year period. To date, Anguillian families have saved more than 1.2 million dollars. There have also been numerous trickle-down economic benefits from tennis events held over the years.
International students are coming in to experience what we do in Anguilla, international coaches, professionals on the ATP tour perform exhibitions at the ATA, television producers and song writers produce songs and promos about the ATA to create more awareness, and journalists from popular magazines have documented Mitch’s tennis journey.
From a social standpoint, the Tennis Academy has done wonders for children and serves as a vehicle to develop well-rounded children who continue to uplift Anguilla. Children who grew up in Anguilla and started at the James Ronald Webster Park were given a world class facility, the best of its kind in the English, Spanish and French speaking Caribbean. The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has chosen the ATA to host level 2 and 3 tournaments because it meets all international standards.
Through the ATA, Anguillian children have attended the US Open in Queens, NY and the Rogers Cup in Toronto. ATA students received behind the scenes access and were able to meet, embrace and converse with top players on both the ATP and WTA tour. These are opportunities afforded because of the expansive reach the ATA has both regionally and internationally.
The ATA also gives back in other ways. One such example is that Mitch and his wife, Keesha Fleming Lake, received donations and packed a twenty-foot Tropical Shipping container with nonperishables and food for ATA families after Hurricane Irma in 2017.
When Mitch reflects, he knows that the cause was greater than a cost.
Mitch shared, “If the cost is greater than the cause it is your ego. However, if the cause is greater than the cost, it is something that must be done to better humanity.”
The Anguilla Tennis Academy has no doubt made an indelible mark not just on the Anguillian community but internationally as well.

Mitch Shares Lessons Learned on the Journey
“In life, what you put in is what you get out.”
I did not know what to expect. All I had was a belief and a will. I had to build a coalition of the willing to help me fulfil what I thought was necessary for the children of Anguilla.
‘Never give up”
Along the way, anything worth having is going to present challenges. If you honestly believe in what you want to do, do not allow obstacles to make you quit. The easiest thing you can do is quit. Mitch always remembered the voices of the children saying we cannot wait for next year – or this summer is the best experience I ever had. He realised that quitting would be selfish, and lives would be negatively impacted by the persons depending on the ATA as an outlet.
He shared:
“You have to think about the Impact of what you are doing, and the impact on others, and that should be the motivation to press on despite the challenges and obstacles in your way.”

What you put in; you will get out.
I was not paid to do any of this, but it became a passion. The song “Something Inside so Strong” motivated me, and I played it daily for inspiration and motivation. The academy became the blood that flowed through my veins. If you really believe in something and you work hard, you can really achieve it. Your will power becomes so great that you become determined to find a way.
The Importance of Networking
Networking is the greatest skill anyone can have. Mitch powerfully and strategically used the medium of the hotel to connect with people across the world.
He shared:
People love two things’ children (regardless of culture and colour) and they love stories. If people love your story, they will buy into your story. As your network grows your rolodex becomes so huge that there are so many resources available to you. It makes what you do easier because so many persons with extraordinary expertise are within reach.
Once something is built to a certain level and the foundation is strong, it will stand. It will be difficult to undermine.
The foundation of the ATA was not just pure, it was strong. No one knows all the players involved as they are not just locals. That aspect gave the ATA a sense of immunity that Mitch was able to use to his advantage to grow, promote and make the ATA what it is today.
He reflected, “My hope is that young persons will look at me and say if Mitch can conceive an idea and bring it to fruition, I too can conceive an idea and bring it to fruition. Failure was not an option. If I succeed, others will succeed. If I build, others will build.”

Final Words from Mitchelle Lake, Founder of the Anguilla Tennis Academy – We Must Give Credit to our Own
One of the things we fail to do in Anguilla is recognise and give credit to our own. The Anguilla Tennis Academy should be recognised as a symbol of national pride and an institution that must be preserved for generations to come. The people of Anguilla and Governments present, and in the future, must protect the ATA and ensure that the opportunities that the past students have been afforded will also be afforded for future generations.
Not only was the Anguilla Tennis Academy developed by a son of the soil, but it is the only academy in the world which gives its name, not to its Founder but to its country.
I was merely a catalyst in this journey to give the children of Anguilla something they deserved. The responsibility of the people of Anguilla is to ensure that this gift, which was created by an Anguillian, for Anguillians, is preserved for future generations. Because it is the Anguilla Tennis Academy, that responsibility must be borne mainly by Anguilla and all Anguillians.

From the Author’s Vantage Point
Listening to, and authoring this story, I am in awe of what Mitchell Lake was able to accomplish. Not only does Anguilla have a world-class tennis academy, the only of its kind, and at its level in the English, French and Spanish Caribbean. It also has stood the test of time and made significant contributions socially and economically.
The Anguilla Tennis Academy which carries our country’s name is a symbol of national pride. I feel proud every time I drive by. There is no doubt that Mitchell Lake has created something sustainable and world class for the children of Anguilla.
Now, we must take collective ownership of the Anguilla Tennis Academy so that this institution and the services it offers are protected and prioritised. There are so few beautiful spaces created for our children – and the ATA must be maintained for future generations.
The Anguilla Tennis Academy has garnered numerous awards and accolades over the years – and proven itself committed to Anguilla’s children, the provision of employment opportunities and the general development of Anguilla and young Anguillians.

Collectively, we must play our part to ensure that tennis opportunities on island that will enable the Anguilla Tennis Academy to obtain revenue and continue to grow, build, and offer affordable programmes and scholarships to Anguillians regardless of socioeconomic status, are awarded and prioritised. This is one way we can play our part to ensure that the ATA not only survives but continues to thrive.
I am grateful that my children can play tennis at a World Class facility, and I can only hope that they will turn out to be better players than I was.

Cheers and congratulations to the Anguilla Tennis Academy as it celebrates another milestone this summer. Advantage ATA! Advantage Mitch!



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History & culture of the eastern Caribbean islands

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The Eastern Caribbean is a region that includes a number of small island nations and territories in the Caribbean Sea. These islands have a rich history and culture that have been shaped by a variety of influences, including African, Caribbean, European, and indigenous peoples.

The first inhabitants of the Eastern Caribbean were indigenous peoples who migrated to the region thousands of years ago. These people included the Arawaks, Caribs, and Tainos, who were skilled farmers, fishermen, and craftsmen.

The first European explorers to reach the Eastern Caribbean were the Spanish, who arrived in the region in the late 15th century. The Spanish claimed the islands for their own and began to establish settlements, plantations, and mines. However, they were soon challenged by the English, French, and Dutch, who also wanted to control the region.

The Eastern Caribbean became a battleground for these European powers, who fought over control of the islands for more than two centuries. The islands were eventually divided among the European powers, with the English, French, and Dutch each controlling a number of islands.

During this period, the islands became a melting pot of cultures, with African slaves brought to the region to work on the plantations, and Europeans, Africans, and indigenous peoples mixing and intermingling. This led to the development of a unique culture and identity for the Eastern Caribbean, which is still evident today.

Today, the Eastern Caribbean is a diverse and vibrant region with a rich history and culture. The islands are known for their beautiful beaches, stunning natural scenery, and vibrant music and dance traditions. The region also has a thriving tourism industry, with many visitors coming to the islands to experience the unique culture and beauty of the Eastern Caribbean.

In addition to its rich history and culture, the Eastern Caribbean is also known for its natural beauty. The islands are home to a variety of landscapes, including white sandy beaches, lush rainforests, and mountains. The region is also home to a number of protected areas and national parks, which are home to a wide variety of flora and fauna, including many species that are found nowhere else in the world.

The Eastern Caribbean is also an important economic region, with many of the islands relying on tourism as a major source of income. The region is also known for its production of spices, particularly nutmeg, which is one of the main exports of the region. In addition, the islands are home to a number of small-scale industries, including fishing, agriculture, and manufacturing.

The Eastern Caribbean is also a popular destination for sailors, with many of the islands offering excellent sailing conditions and a number of marinas and yacht clubs. The region is also home to a number of major sailing events, including the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers and the Caribbean 600 race.

Overall, the Eastern Caribbean is a fascinating and diverse region with a rich history, culture, and natural beauty. The islands offer a wide range of activities and attractions for visitors to enjoy, from relaxing on beautiful beaches to exploring the region’s vibrant culture and history.

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SDA Church Hosts Sunday Evening Concert with US Gospel Music Professional – The Anguillian Newspaper – The Weekly Independent Paper of Anguilla

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Orlan Johnson, Zina Johnson and Edmond Charles greeted
by Dwayniqua Proctor on arrival
Mr. Marcus Smith
Mr. Vernon Rogers

A team of gospel musicians arrived on the island this week from Washington, DC, to conduct a special concert at the Mount Fortune Seventh-day Adventist Church on Sunday evening, 24th July. The concert, dubbed “The Return”, is organized by a committee led by SDA’s Choir Director, Marcia Hodge.
The visiting team of musicians includes: Zina Johnson, the Choir Director and Psalmist; Edmond Charles, the Organist; and Marcus Smith, the Pianist. All three gospel music enthusiasts were meticulously chosen for the occasion by an ardent music leader of the church, Vernon Elrado “Rado” Rogers, a well known Anguillian who resides in Baltimore, Maryland. Mr. Rogers commented on his selection of the visiting musicians and expectations for Sunday evening’s event:

“The local churches Director, Marcia Hodge approached me some time ago,” he said, “asking me to assist her in organising a special musical event for the church. She wanted this to be a concert with a higher level of performance created by gospel music professionals. I sing with the Baltimore Community Choir, and I am privileged to know skilful performers in the gospel music area. So I set about selecting the best individuals with whom I am familiar.

“I think these three individuals, Zina, Edmond and Marcus, are ideal performers/ministers for what we intend to present to the public on Sunday night,” Rado remarked. “People sometimes forget that gospel music is a sermon – it is not a show. We are going to prove that on Sunday evening.

“We expect a great turnout for “The Return”, when we will reveal that gospel music is a force to reckon with, as long as it is presented with the anointing of the Holy Spirit. We intend to impact the audience with a rich gospel-oriented musical experience.

The concert, “The Return”, will take place on Sunday evening at 5:00 at the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Mount Fortune. A love offering will be collected.



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REVENUE-GENERATION THROUGH TAXATION – The Anguillian Newspaper – The Weekly Independent Paper of Anguilla

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As the world contemplates the issue of a global recession that could have deep and lasting impacts on how we survive – even within the Caribbean region – it is imperative that we in Anguilla become very proactive. By that, we should be considering how we can take measures to cut the overall cost of running our country – Anguilla.
It seems as though government after government has ignored the need to engage in austerity measures to reduce public expenditure and creatively expand the economy. Instead, they take the easy way out and allow the ‘status quo’ to continue.

As each successive government finds it more and more challenging to manage the cost associated with running the country, the government of the day appears to seek comfort in the ‘status quo’ approach – generating new revenue through taxation.
Notably, there are significant problems that naturally lend themselves to this approach: it increases the cost of living for the people and residents of Anguilla; it makes Anguilla seem unattractive to visitors in terms of the cost to visit; and it discourages people from wanting to do business in Anguilla – all of which have a negative economic impact on the island.
In effect, the ‘status quo’ of revenue-generation primarily through taxation displaces some of our people, especially our young people who find it more and more unbearable to live in Anguilla. In order to survive or have a decent standard of living for themselves, their families and future families, they ‘throw their hands up in the air’ and migrate to the UK or to the US. When they migrate to other lands, we in Anguilla lose generations of working-class people who are not contributing to the social security scheme in Anguilla or to the economy and overall development of this country. When that happens, the country dies – its youth move away with no real prospects of ever returning home to live.
Looking at this problem wholistically, it is important that we create and actively seek out economic opportunities that attract our young people who have migrated out of Anguilla to return home, and that we retain our youth in this country within the workforce.
Whereas, the population in most of the region has grown substantially over the years, the population in Anguilla has grown very little. There was a time when Anguilla’s population outnumbered that of the BVI, of St Maarten, and of the Turks and Caicos Islands. Instead of growing, Anguilla today is experiencing an exodus of human capital, especially among our young people who are leaving Anguilla in search of better living opportunities elsewhere.

The ‘status quo’ of revenue-generation primarily through taxation makes Anguilla less attractive as a destination choice for visitors on limited budgets. Anguilla will probably always be a niche destination for high-end vacationers who tend to purchase all-inclusive vacation packages resulting in major spending profits going off island to the hotel property owners and investors.
The ‘status quo’ of revenue-generation primarily through taxation also forces would-be investors to not come to Anguilla to do business, but instead, to choose other jurisdictions that are just as appealing as Anguilla, but where the labour is cheaper, the water is cheaper and the electricity is cheaper. While Anguilla has ‘a very pretty expensive offering’ – sun, sea, and sand – it would still be ignored for other places with ‘many very pretty affordable offerings’ – sun, sea, sand, good-paying jobs, readily available goods, easy access to essential services, and affordable living, etc.
So, when we talk about austerity and finding creative ways of cutting cost in Anguilla, it is imperative that we act on it, because to not do so is having all kinds of negative impacts on our country – impacts on the population, on inward and foreign investment, on people’s quality of life and on the overall cost of living.
There have been so many missed opportunities for the governments of Anguilla to abandon the ‘status quo’ draconian mentality of entitlement, turn Anguilla around and steady her on an upward and forward trajectory.
There have been opportunities to move some of the public service workforce into the private sector workforce. There have been opportunities to address issues of redundancy, efficiency and productivity within the public service and government statutory bodies. There have been opportunities for government to reduce the size of its ground transportation fleets and cut back on its electricity and telephone usage – especially during off-peak hours.
Post Hurricane Irma Anguilla received large amounts of money from the UK Government in relief assistance and, with it, the government of the day moved with great haste to construct a number of needed buildings across the island. However, the extravagant size of those buildings comes with an increased consumption of everything needed to keep them operating. This too, adds to the cost of running the country putting more burden on a declining population.
Unless past governments, this government, and future governments, lose ‘the status quo’ and realise the need to streamline the cost of running Anguilla, it is unlikely that the cost of living in Anguilla will improve significantly. It is unlikely that the economy of Anguilla will realise much growth. It is unlikely that we will be able to attract many people to stay in Anguilla and keep its operations going year-round. It is unlikely that investors will consider Anguilla to be an appealing destination in which to invest.
The recent introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in addition to the Interim Stabilisation Tax, and all these knock-on effects, have also added to the cost of living and doing business in Anguilla. As a result, the residents, local businesses, local and foreign investors, as well as potential investors, are all suffering. The ‘status quo’ of entitlement and revenue-generation through taxation is taking Anguilla nowhere – quickly!



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