DOJ: AVP Hosts Inaugural ‘Mothers Matter’ Empowerment Event

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS – An innovative event aimed at celebrating and empowering mothers was held recently at the UVI 13D Research and Strategy Innovation Center. The inaugural “Mothers Matter Empowerment Event”, initiated by the Access and Visitation Program (AVP) of the V.I. Department of Justice (DOJ) Paternity and Child Support Division (PCSD), was organized in collaboration with six partner agencies. The event was dedicated to honoring 50 exceptional mothers for their unwavering dedication and resilience.

The interactive event featured motivational speakers, giveaways, childcare, and other activities aimed at inspiring and uplifting attendees. In addition, representatives from collaborating organizations, including the UVI Center for Excellence in Leadership and Learning (UVI CELL), Family Resource Center, Inc., Law Enforcement Planning Commission, the V.I. Juvenile Justice State Advisory Group Board, the Virgin Islands Police Department, the V.I. Department of Human Services-The Office of Child Care and Regulatory Services, and Inspire V.I. LLC, were present to offer support and resources to participants.

Ian S.A. Clement, V.I. Department of Justice Deputy Attorney General gave brief remarks. He said, “We acknowledge the distinct hurdles that mothers, especially single mothers, encounter while raising their children. Our collaboration with various organizations in the U.S. Virgin Islands reflects our commitment to sharing programs and resources geared towards bolstering mothers and fortifying families.”

The event sought to establish a network of support for mothers facing various challenges,

specifically those dealing with child support cases. By uniting mothers and fostering positive

communication with non-custodial fathers, the goal was to enhance parental engagement and foster stronger relationships for the well-being of the children involved.

“Through this event, we aimed to provide a platform for self-empowerment, self-improvement, and self-efficacy, while also fostering positive co-parenting relationships for the well-being of all. I would like to express heartfelt thanks to the DOJ Family and all the collaborating agencies, authors, and the business community. Your commitment to the mothers in our community is not overlooked in the role that they play in their children’s lives,” said Dr. Sharon Jackson-McDonald, Access & Visitation Program Administrator.

“We offer you encouragement and support. Motherhood is a profound journey, whether chosen or unexpected. Thank you for being here today; you are strong and incredible,” said Dr. Susan Darrow-Magras, Director of the UVI Center for Excellence in Leadership and Learning.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the need for such initiatives is evident, with nearly 80% of single-parent families headed by single mothers, and a third living in poverty. Furthermore, the Journal of Child Health Care highlights the detrimental effects of parental separation on children’s development and behavior, emphasizing the importance of fostering positive co-parenting relationships.

The keynote speaker, Carol O’Bryan Henneman, a retired educator, poet, and historian from the Virgin Islands, shared her personal journey of overcoming struggles and delivered an uplifting and spiritual message. “There’s no guarantee of life being fair; it’s how you navigate it that truly matters,” she remarked.

Guest speaker Whitney George emphasized the importance of self-care for empowered motherhood, highlighting that it goes beyond indulgent activities like bubble baths and spa days. She stressed that self-care involves nurturing oneself to better care for one’s children.

“Events like this are essential for our community, especially for the many young parents who need support. We must continue to work closely together, do whatever it takes, and go the extra mile to ensure our communities are well cared for,” said Anya Stuart, Executive Director of the Family Resource Center, Inc.

All of the attendees/presenters were recognized with certificates during the ceremony, including organizers, Dr. Cira Burke, Director- TANF/JOBS V.I. DHS and Inspire V.I. LLC, Dr. Latashia Edwards, Community Engagement Manager-UVI CELL, Tishma Tucker-Lans, Administrator & Velvyn Samuel-Warren & Andrene Johnson-Van Beverhoudt, Quality Improvement Specialists- OCCRS DHS, Jacqueline Freeman, Juvenile Justice Specialist-LEPC OJJDP, Anya Stuart, Executive Director & Jeanette John Baptiste-FRC, Capt. Sandra Coulbourne-VIPD, Janice Thomas & Dana Todman-DOJ,PCSD Access & Visitation Coordinators & Sandra Goomansingh- DOJ Media Relations Director, Authors of Passion and Purpose: Velma Freeman-Walter, Cyndee Ible Frontal, Jo’Hanna D. Sammuel, Dr. Khnuma Simmonds, and Maya Smith. Businesses: The Market, Viya, Cheryl Baskets, Fantastic Nails, Life Skills Training Center and Therapeutic Massage.

For more information about Access & Visitation, please contact:

Department of Justice, Paternity and Child Support Division (PCSD) Access & Visitation (AVP)

St. Croix & St. Thomas (340) 775-3070, ext. 5007, 5010, 340-778-5958


UVI Center for Excellence in Leadership and Learning (UVI CELL) St. Croix: (340) 692-4230

St. Thomas (340) 693-1100

Family Resource Center, Inc., (FRC)

St. Thomas (340) 776-3966

Inspire V.I., LLC

Law Enforcement Planning Commission (LEPC)

St. Thomas: (340) 774-6400

St. Croix: (340) 713-3522

Juvenile Justice State Advisory Group Board (GISAG) St. Thomas: (340) 774-6400

St. Croix: (340) 713-3522

Virgin Islands Police Department (VIPD)


911 Emergency

Department of Human Services-The Office of Child Care and Regulatory Services (OCCRS)

St. Croix (340)772-7147

St. Thomas/St. John 774-0930 ext. 4180 or 4184


June 10, 2024

Sandra Goomansingh Media Relations Director (340)774-5666 ext. 10105