Volunteer Corps launched ahead of National Volunteer Day
BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – The Department of Youth Empowerment launched its Volunteer Corps on Feb. 16, one day ahead of the first-ever National Volunteer Day observance in St. Kitts and Nevis.
An orientation and training of more than 200 volunteers followed the launching ceremony held at the OOJJs Conference Room. The majority of the participants were students from the Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College, Advanced Vocational Education Centre, and the Nevis 6th Form College, who are enrolled in the Supporting Advancement of Further Education (SAFE) initiative – a government-sponsored grant programme. The students are required to complete four hours of community service every month.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth Stanley Knight said that many people underestimate the value volunteerism has on the volunteer, the beneficiary, the community, and the country as a whole.
“Volunteerism is the basis on which every modern society is based,” he stated. “Some think it is economics, some think it is politics, some think it is sports excellence, but let me tell you this, you getting up out of your bed and helping your brothers, your sisters, your neighbours, your friends, your community, that is what makes a modern community successful. Therefore what you are doing right now is that you are reaching out and taking hold of your own future and shaping it.”
The permanent secretary suggested that while some of the participants were only present because of the SAFE stipulation, he and the department’s staff were grateful for the extra hands, while adding that giving back typically produces a good feeling within individuals. He summed up the feeling as love.
“When you are kind, patient, caring, and empathetic; when it matters to you whether or not that old person is fed; whether or not that person down the road has someone to talk to; whether or not the children after school have someone to help teach them how to play football; that is love,” he said. “We are asking you to be kind, we are asking you to not be envious, not to be boastful. Love is the feeling that you get as a result of all of the things that you do. As volunteers, we are going to teach you how to love.”
Members of the new Volunteer Corps joined hundreds of residents and citizens participating in a series of activities across the federation as part of National Volunteer Day, including tree planting exercises at St. Peter’s and Trinity, painting a senior citizen’s home at Keys, cleaning up Frigate Bay Beach, and serving guests at the National Volunteer Day Luncheon at Government House.
The Volunteer Corps is open to anyone aged 16-35. People wishing to sign up to become a member or to request volunteers to support a project can visit the Department of Youth Empowerment located on the top floor of The Cable Building or call 662-6054.