We gather here today to thank His Excellency, The Most Honourable Cornelius A. Smith, for his four years of service as Governor-General and for a lifetime of service as a politician, member of Cabinet and diplomat.
It is often said that public service is a calling. When his nation called, Sir Cornelius A. Smith answered – with more than 40 years of service to the Bahamian people.
When he was sworn in as Governor-General, in June of 2019, he could not have known that just a few months later, a Category 5 hurricane would devastate the Abacos and Grand Bahama, leaving behind tragedy, destruction, and grief, and a sobering understanding of the dangers we confront in a new climate era. He also could not have known, in June of 2019, that less than a year into his service as Governor-General, a pandemic would be the cause of so much disruption and interruption. Yet throughout his term, he served with a steadiness and propriety that were a source of support and reassurance for Bahamians.
In November of 2020, in recognition of the enormous need for support throughout our nation, he oversaw the launch of the Volunteer Bahamas initiative. He was motivated, I’m sure, by his long record of philanthropic contributions and participation. The new initiative allows the Office of the Governor-General to use its resources and influence to recruit and organize volunteers for the crucial work done by NGOs and charities.
Last month, we passed the Volunteer Society Act (2023), so that Volunteer Bahamas can more robustly pursue the important goal of expanding volunteerism throughout our islands.
Thank you, Sir Cornelius, for your vision and for laying the foundation for this initiative. I believe you and I share this simple but powerful understanding: that helping others is life-changing not just for the recipient of the support but for the volunteer as well. When we are engaged in purposeful work, in helping others, we put in motion a virtuous cycle for ourselves, for our communities, and for our nation. Whatever our nation’s future holds, we will face it better if we can build civic strength and empower community organizations.
Thank you for this legacy, and for your steady professionalism and service to the Bahamian people, as Governor-General, as a Minister in government, and as an Ambassador.
I have no doubt you will continue to inspire Bahamians to volunteer, to contribute, and to serve.
Thank you for serving our beautiful nation so faithfully.
Godspeed, Sir Cornelius.
May God bless us all.