By Horace Mills, BVI News Online Journalist
Businessman Shane Winter stood in front a group of mainly young men to deliver a motivational speech, and he couldn’t help but express surprise that he is still alive – still standing.
“I thought I would have been dead by now; I had no idea I could have made it out,” he declared as he reflected on a past littered with frustration, imprisonment, and death – multiple deaths.
Winter was a teen when he lost his beloved mother, who had a brain tumor and ended up blind.
He also lost two brothers tragically – one of whom was murdered here in the British Virgin Islands (BVI). The other passed away as a result of complications developed in a motor vehicle accident.
Winter also lost his first wife in a motor vehicle crash.
At one point, he lost a number of close friends to the extent that he ended up becoming ‘numb’ to death.
The businessman further explained: “Sometimes the phone rings – two or three calls back to back; all of them from Balsam Ghut correctional facility. You looking back and say to yourself ‘I just buried a bunch of friends and just about the rest of them calling me from prison’. I didn’t do that bad; it could have been a lot worse for me.”
Winter also had his share of incarceration when he was younger. He attributed it to a number of factors, including inadequate parental guidance.
“When I was in high school, my mom got ill,” he said, adding that his parents ended up being in the United States frequently especially to facilitate surgery.
“My brothers and I – we ended up staying with my family members. But, in families, things happen.”
“After a few months or years back and forth, we started hanging out with other teenagers who were in troubled family situations. We started getting in trouble, run-ins with the law, fights – whatever you could think a young troubled teenager could get into.”
“By the age of 17, I had already been arrested a few times – all sorts of different problems. I felt like the world was on my shoulder; there was no way out. Then I lost my mom who I love so much; my dad is back and forth. Basically, no parents,” Winter said.
He eventually left the BVI to live in the United States, where he had a rude awakening of sorts.
“It opened my eyes to a lot of situations. I saw people with a lot worse situations than what I was going through, and I thought what I was going through were the worse things in the world,” Winter noted.
When he was in his late 20s, he returned to the BVI and started to ‘mess around’ with politics.
Winter became a protege’ of Julian Fraser, who represents the Third Electoral District.
But, according to Winter, tongues started to wag about Fraser having questionable characters in his camp.
He said Fraser was only helping to save him.
“After Honourable Fraser took a chance with me, I was put in a position where I couldn’t let him down; I couldn’t let him down at all,” Winter told the audience.
He later put his knack for business to the test. “I fell in love with business; I fell in love with construction. So whatever courses they had at the college, I went and I took them and I excelled… I didn’t want to go back to college and do three years, but I didn’t mind doing little courses three times a week,” added the businessman, who also recalled that he entered secondary school as the top English Language student in the entire BVI.
Winter said he was ‘an exceptional student’ before his mother fell ill, and things started to fall apart.
Despite his many adversities, however, Winter, today, prides himself as an accomplished businessman.
“I currently have four running businesses,” he told the young men, who gathered at Noel Lloyd Positive Action Movement Park after nightfall on Friday.
They attended the ‘Male Call’ conference, which also featured motivational speakers such as Bishop John Cline and Cromwell ‘Edju En Ka’ Smith.
Bishop Cline stated that, after he heard Winter’s story, he couldn’t help but invite the businessman to open up to the youngsters.
Winter said he gladly accepted the invitation because he, as well as other adult men in the community, has an awesome responsibility to guide younger men.
“The men in this community – including myself – all have a responsibility to try to help to keep this community in good standing…” he trumpeted.
“We all have a responsibility to try to make a change whether it’s through parenting, mentoring, or even going to church – the house of God.”
Winter, whose wife and youngest group of children sat on a bench in earshot, implored the young men to always keep hope alive.
“Sometimes you can’t see right in front of your face, but have some faith. Be careful of the decisions that you make right now, because they could or most definitely will affect you sometime in life,” he advised.
“I am saying to the young men of the BVI, there is hope; there is always hope. Tomorrow is always another day, no matter how bad the situation looks in life, no matter what you are going through. There is always hope.”
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