General
For many years beginning in the mid 1970’s ex soldiers of the Guyana Defence Force in the New York/New Jersey area who had migrated or were visiting from Guyana would regularly meet socially but informally at each others’ homes or in bars. In 1985 some in this group began discussing the possibility of formally establishing an entity in New York that would be open to all ex members of the GDF. Subsequently Claude Woolward, Ian Fraser, Fairborn David (now deceased), and Maxwell Hinds met at David’s business establishment in Brooklyn and decided to invite all known ex soldiers in the area to a meeting in June 1986 at said premises to explore the possibility of setting up an organization of ex GDF soldiers. Some 20 persons attended in response to this invitation, and the meeting overwhelmingly decided to proceed with formally organizing.
The stated goal of the founders was to build an organization that could reinforce the bonds of friendship and brotherhood which were fostered during active service in the Guyana Defence Force.
At that first meeting, a Steering Committee was established. Ian Fraser was appointed Chairman of the Steering Committee; Neville Layne and Edward Assing were appointed as Vice-Chairs; Maxwell Hinds as Secretary; Fairborn David as Treasurer and Everett Lilly and Claude Woolward as Committee Members.
It was not until 2001 that The XGDF Association of New York was eventually incorporated.

Early Activities
A Reunion Function was held at Small Boy’s Lounge on Utica Avenue on 23rd August 1986. The first Dinner Dance of the Association was held on 26th December 1986 at the Tropical Springs Ballroom, Nostrand Ave, in Brooklyn.
Sporting events were organized and family gatherings were encouraged. Of particular note is the regular attendance at church services especially at St Gabriel’s Episcopal on Hawthorne St. in Brooklyn, where at a gathering in late 1987, the XGDF encouraged the members of a semi-formal grouping of ex female soldiers to merge on terms of full equality. Among the female members who responded were Thelma Singh, Loraine Glasgow, Gloria Marshall-Nero, Grace and Linda Darrel, Myrna Carmichael, Cheryl Tappin and Sandra Fraser-Thomas, all of whom would become stalwarts and serve in executive or committee positions throughout the life of the organization.

Membership
As of December 2015, there were 165 Financial Members on record. There are 15 Honorary Members. Membership dues are currently one hundred dollars per year. Life Membership which confers a waiver of annual fees, may be granted on the recommendation of two life members in good standing, after the aspirant has served at least three years as a dues-paying member. Over the years the XGDF Association of New York has recognized and responded to the sterling contribution of members’ spouses and families by inducting many as members, even if they had not themselves served in the GDF.

Meetings
The venue for early meetings was the backyard of David’s Restaurant on Clarendon Road in Brooklyn. As time went on, meetings were rotated among the homes of members. In 1995 the members began pooling resources to purchase a building. In 1996 they acquired a mixed-use property with two apartments and a storefront at 132-16 Rockaway Blvd, South Ozone Park, New York.
Meetings are now held at that building on the third Sunday of every month. From 6:00 pm
Social gatherings by family and friends are encouraged at weekends.
Members may also utilize the premises to celebrate special family occasions.
A domino club – the New York Domino Association – has been established and meets there regularly.

Major Events and Activities
Each year the program of the Association features a Barbecue on the Saturday closest to 4th July.
A family fun day is held at Hempstead Lake State Park in the second week of August.
Other occasions when families of members are able to socialize and strengthen their relationships are Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Veterans Day.

Fundraisers
Other activities are organized mainly to raise funds which are used to maintain our premises, as well as for donations. An annual bus ride is organized for that purpose. Fundraising Dances are also held from time to time.

 Outreach
The Association maintains close ties to organizations of veteran soldiers of the Guyana Defence Force in Maryland, New Jersey, Georgia, California, Canada, and Guyana.
The XGDF Association of Guyana was established in February 2008. It merged in 2014 with the Guyana Veterans Foundation and the Guyana Legion to form the Guyana Veterans Legion.
The XGDF Association of Georgia was established in May 2008.
The Guyana  Ex-Soldiers Association of Canada (founded in 1983) and The GDF Veterans of LA (founded in 2000) are friendly organizations with close ties to the XGDF of New York.
Cordial relationships have also been established with other Guyanese-American organizations in the New York area.

Community Activities
Occasionally, donations are made to GDF veterans in the USA and Guyana.  Donations to Guyana’s veterans have included cash, toys, medical supplies and used clothing. In some instances, funeral expenses of veterans have been supplemented with donations from the organization. Each year a Christmas Party and a Easter Day Event is held for children in the GDF veteran community of Queens and Brooklyn. At Thanksgiving each year, the XGDF hosts senior citizens to a luncheon at our premises. Guyanese cultural and sports ventures in the New York area have also been beneficiaries of the goodwill of the XGDF Association.

Conclusion
The XGDF Organization is constantly streamlining its operations and image in promotion of the best interests of all veterans of the Guyana Defence Force. Increased fund raising is a major focus. The intention is to increase charitable activity in the general community and to develop a strong support network in service of Guyanese military veterans and their families.

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