THEY OFTEN CRY OUTREACH
They Often Cry Outreach (TOCO) is a 501(c)(3), U.S. based, not-for profit organization co-founded by St. Lucian musician Taj Weekes and attorney Shirley J. Menard. TOCO’s mission is to raise awareness and address the issues that affect Caribbean youth through comprehensive projects and initiatives on every island in the Caribbean. TOCO’s projects range from after school sports programs, a diabetes awareness initiative, a domestic violence awareness campaign, and artistic programs.
TAJ WEEKES ♦ MUSICIAN ♦ POET ♦ HUMANITARIAN
Internationally renowned artist Taj Weekes has been writing and performing music for over a decade. Born and raised on the island of St. Lucia, Weekes has become a successful musician, poet, lecturer, and entrepreneur in the areas of music, business, and service. His band, Taj Weekes & Adowa, have released four full-length albums, Hope & Doubt (2005), DEIDEM (2008), A Waterlogged Soul Kitchen (2010) and Pariah in Transit (2013). Their albums have been consistently ranked as one of the top albums of any given year. They have toured North America extensively, have headlined major music festivals and events and have been seen and heard in the United Kingdom, Europe, Africa, South America, Australia/New Zealand and Scandinavia. Weekes has been credited with presenting “the most appealing and rewarding manifestation of reggae now being created” and lauded for “raising the level of songwriting within the idiom of reggae music.” He owns his own entertainment company, Jatta, which divisions include a record label, music and book publishing, film and merchandising.
Weekes’ humanitarian work has been a staple of his celebrity, using every opportunity to serve and speak on behalf of the children of the Caribbean. As founder of TOCO, he has shown tremendous commitment to service with his hands on approach to implementing TOCO’s programs since its inception in 2007. He personally travels and distributes donated items to the islands, lectures to high school and college students on topics ranging from volunteerism to acceptance and tolerance, and donates his own money to ensure that TOCO can fulfill its missions. His efforts are at the core of TOCO’s success and in recognition for his work, Weekes was named a Goodwill Ambassador by the International Consortium of Caribbean Professionals in 2007 and by a division of the United Nations. In 2012, he received a humanitarian award from the St. Lucian government for his work through TOCO.
TOCO BOARD OF DIRECTORS
- Mike Avery – Head Men’s Soccer Coach, Valparaiso University
- Brittany Barran-Stanley – Graphic Designer, Art Director
- Valerie Albert Fevrier – Program Director, HTS St. Lucia
- Fran L. Kulas III- Associate Head Women’s Soccer Coach, Villanova University
- Drew Renaud – Film Director, Screenwriter, Producer, Editor
- Cecil St. Jules – Managing Director, BNYMellon; Financial Advisor, St. Lucia House Foundation
- Paul Toth – Entertainment Director, Island Festival, Kalamazoo, Michigan