Mindesha Challenger is a dedicated member of the Volunteer Corps. SKNIS Photo.

Mindesha Challenger and Myrah Julius were among several speakers who sought to inspire the newest members of the Volunteer Corps during a launching ceremony and orientation session held Wednesday at the Old Boy’s School in Basseterre.

Ms. Challenger, a student of the C. F. Bryant College (CFBC), entered the Volunteer Corps in 2019 as a beneficiary of the Supporting Advancement of Further Education (SAFE) programme that provides a grant to qualifying students.

As a recipient of the grant, the young student was required to do four hours of community service every month, however, the teen went above and beyond what was required by participating in many activities, including beach cleanups, the Department of Youth Empowerment’s Summer Camp and tree planting exercises. The department’s staff logged approximately 1,000 hours of volunteer service for Ms. Challenger in 2019, earning her the Most Outstanding Student Volunteer award at the Youth Service Award held in December.

“This (the award) wasn’t something I expected but giving back has its rewards,” she said. “I urge you today to not look at the service hours as work but as an opportunity, no matter what you are doing and where you will be volunteering. Think of it as I am doing it for the betterment of my society.”

Myrah Julius shared similar sentiments. She started volunteering at 8-years-old as a member of the Girls Brigade and various school activities. At age 20, she signed up to serve as a dorm leader at the Department of Youth Empowerment’s Summer Camp to collect a stipend and found the experience rewarding. Some 15 years later, Ms. Julius is very supportive of the department’s projects and programmes. She even developed entrepreneurial skills by participating in the youth empowerment business programme.

“I have grown so much. Volunteering helps others, but it also helps you as an individual. You gain experience, skills, friendships, opportunities, leadership, and discipline,” Ms. Julius said.“As long as something is going to bring positivity and growth to your life try it at least once. Never fail to try and never be afraid to step outside of your box and explore life’s possibilities.”

Deputy PM: Volunteer Corps Remains a Source of National Pride

In 2019, some 150 members of the Volunteer Corps were seen supporting many activities across St. Kitts and Nevis, ranging from assisting the elderly and differently-abled to conducting beach and seabed clean-ups, planting trees and hosting educational training sessions, the Honourable Shawn Richards, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education and Youth, highlighted during the launching ceremony.

“This morning I am filled with pride, bubbling over with joy and feeling incredibly hopeful about the future of St. Kitts and Nevis,” Honourable Richards stated, noting that there are now some 175 young people who stand to benefit from the community service-oriented programme.

Citing the famous quote by the late United States President John F. Kennedy who said, “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country,”the Deputy Prime Minister said the quote, “Reminds us that we cannot always stand aside and expect that the state should and someday would come to address every single issue observable to us. It reminds us that it is indeed within our power and among our responsibilities as citizens to act and do what we can do to realize the improvement of our country.”

The young people, most of whom are students of the C. F. Bryant College enrolled in the Supporting Advancement of Further Education (SAFE) programme, were advised of the benefits of giving back to society.

“The act of selflessly serving others often yields an array of other benefits including, but far from limited to, the expansion of one’s network, the establishment of lifelong friends and colleagues, the development of valuable and marketable experiences and skills, and even the acquisition of a permanent job position,” he added, “While these are not guaranteed for every volunteer, it is important to note that you should apply yourself and strive for excellence in service. You can open significant opportunities for yourself and for your future.”

As such, the students were reminded to reflect a positive attitude when engaging in their four hours of volunteer service per month.

“Gain as much experience as you can and continue along that part in life, for then you would be on your way to an enriched and prosperous life experience,” Deputy Prime Minister Richards urged the new members of the Volunteer Corps.