Cleveland Garcia’s name is well known in the areas of Woodbrook, Port of Spain and environs. Some recognize him as the Councillor who got the job done, others for his tireless efforts in the community, others see him as the driving force behind “Pan on D’Avenue” while many recall his family’s charitable work.
Cleveland is a family man and business owner who was born in Benares St, St. James. Today he has his business on Wrightson Road in Port of Spain, where he also lives. His aunt and uncle took on the role of parents when his mother and grandmother died. He is married to Allima and is the proud father of two. He attended primary school at the Woodbrook Presbyterian School and then secondary school at Belmont Boys Intermediate. He represented his primary and secondary schools in cricket and later became a member of the national youth cricket team.
Cleveland and his wife experienced a life changing event when they almost lost their first son to fever convulsions. This brought home the understanding that life is fleeting and how important it was to give back. From that time Cleveland began to focus on giving back.
As a result much of his charitable efforts have been focused on the children’s homes in the area. Cleveland continues to give back in every possible way he can. He has even used his business to help youth involved in crime by training them as auto mechanics. He remembers an occasion when one apprentice accidentally started a fire on the premises. Even so, he persevered with the programme and today is happy to say that many of the youths he helped are leading wholesome lives.
In 2010 he was elected a Councillor on the Port of Spain City Corporation. He became know for getting the job done, so much so, that people developed the slogan, “Call Garcia first.” In this role he assisted with helping unemployed persons access jobs, tree cutting, the provision of legal aid to those who could not afford it, helping the homeless acquire HDC homes, the distribution of food cards, the provision of assistance to fire and flood victims and getting electricity restored to areas where the service was interrupted for one reason or the other.
“For me helping people is a way of life. I feel happy when someone comes to me with a need and I can help. As a councillor I was able to do what I did before but had the resources available to me to help a lot more people. I hope to be elected so that I can help many more people and contribute towards the uplifting of the people of Port of Spain South,” says Cleveland.
Cleveland has been the catalyst behind many community activities. He was responsible for putting exercise equipment in Anthony Williams Park and Siegert Square and community movie night at Adam Smith Square. His love for the steel pan inspired what he considers to be his greatest achievement to date – the now annual “Pan on D’Avenue.”
This event has grown to one that attracts some 30,000 participants every year. The 2015 installment will showcase some 26 steelbands along with tassa and dance. It is a relaxed and enjoyable family event. This year’s event will raise funds to support Black Stalin and is being held in memory of the late Holly Thomas.
Cleveland is looking forward to the opportunity to continue serving the people of Port of Spain South. His message is a simple one, “Service before self. It is about people. As long as you can help someone else, it is important to give your all.”