Pamoja International Cultural Exchange, Inc. PICEI......
"Ahead of its time"
In 1982, a group of business executives and concern people founded the PICEI organization under the leadership of Florence Patterson, felt then and now a great need to Understand, Respect, and Share Diverse Culture. It was in Deer Park, New York (which is located in Suffolk County), where PICEI was born. Its chartered members: C. Adkinson, C. Alexander, M. Anderson, N. Anderson, E. Asher, M. Boyd, M. Burgess, M. Butler, D. Cooper, S. Dastidar, E. Ghoram, M. Glenn, C. M. Green, C. Green-Patterson, P. Gullo, S. Mc Danel, E. McKinney, O. Munto, C. Mitchell, P. O'Brien, M. Parker, C. Patterson Jr., F. Patterson, A. Praileau, Z.V. Prescott, J. Reavis, D. Singletary, C. Williams, R. Wyche, knew then, there was a need for a Non Profit, Non Political, and Non religious organization such as PICEI. This organization would focus on the positive and the contributions to the world by all nations, which would aid in having a "Better Understanding" of all people. Then, Now and Always PICEI serves as an umbrella organization where all are welcome.
From the roots of Africa.... A Swahili word, Pamoja is a word which means together, (togetherness) and was adapted as part of our name to stress the oneness of our work, as suggested by one of the original founders, Carl Patterson, Jr. We feel the name reminds us to work together for the good of all.
The first Festival was given on the streets of Deer Park, L.I. on Tell and Maida Avenues in 1983. The success of that Festival, lead the group to plan for a larger and even more inclusive cultural event. All the proper planning, site arrangements and programs for this event were in place. However, the fear of diverse culture embarking upon Suffolk County on such a large and professional scale caused the community to panic and therefore, generated a reaction to try and sabotage the event. However, we did not let that interfere with the continuation of sharing the knowledge of the beauty of all cultures. At that time there were less than ½% African American in the area, very few Latinos or Puerto Rican, no Asians, or other nationalities of color. We realized that the need was even greater than originally thought for educating the general public. The government was very supportive. Some of the officials of the government like Babylon Town Supervisor Hannington and Congressman, Halpin were among those who shared their positive thoughts on the diversity issue during the eight hour Telethon that was conducted in collaboration with the Brentwood Youth Division of Suffolk County and UNICEF to raise funds for children at home and abroad. Viola Bass, one of the very active members and Florence Patterson worked side by side for many hours directing the production, editing the film and successfully marketing the product to many Cable stations. The Telethon took on a life of its own as total communities in Deer Park, Brentwood, and Islip, received the security provided by the Brentwood Police Department. We were very grateful for the protection given to stars and the event. PICEI received many awards and proclamations for its community work in the area of culture. The community knowledge about diversity grew as time went on.
Exposure of diverse cultures through the Arts and other proven methods. Thereby, creating a world with a better understanding of each other, which will generate respect and love for all mankind. PEACE IN OUR WORLD........
To coordinate and provide a common place for all cultural groups to display their talents under one umbrella.
To enhance the understanding of all nationalities through the performing
and visual arts.
To place the emphasis on creativity, not competition.
To increase the knowledge of other's and one's own heritage.
To unite all nationalities, while ensuring that they remain distinct.
To allow cultural expressions by the old and the young.
To provide tourism which will increase revenue and jobs.
In 1987, the headquarters relocated in the North Country in the town of Brasher Falls and later developed offices in Fort Covington and Potsdam, New York. PICEI began to work within the Salmon River Central School District with similar programs of diverse culture. In that location the founding and organizing members were: Jaime Bova, Patricia Bova, Elizabeth DiVita, Ramona DiVita, Debbie, Dona Ensign, Courtlan Green, Kimberly Harmon, Jean Herne, Justin Moulton, Pat Musante, Carl Patterson, Chrysetta Patterson, Inez Patterson, Florence Patterson, Donna Riley, Donna Smith, Frank Visconti, and Millie Visconti.