Saturday, December 5 was the celebration of International Volunteer’s day, started in 1985 by the United Nations. Every year, many nongovernmental organizations including Belize Red Cross, take the opportunity to recognize their volunteers and highlight the work being done.
Currently, 190 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies exist in almost every country in the world with approximately 97 million volunteers. It is a powerful global volunteer movement active local, national and international levels. Each Society works in its home country, guided by the principles of the international humanitarian law and principles of the international movement. Depending on their capacity and circumstances, National Societies take on additional humanitarian tasks that are undefined by international humanitarian laws.
Belize Red Cross
The awards ceremony this year was supposed to be a Punta Gorda overnight event. Unfortunately, that got canceled and plan B for a ceremony at the Radisson Fort George was called into action.
Governor General of Belize, Sir Colville Young gave an inspiring talk. He told us his Buddhist Parable, highlighted the value in respecting one another and encouraged the Belize Red Cross to keep on doing great volunteer work.
Why become a BRC Volunteer?
Volunteering offers many precious gifts but perhaps one of the most important is the simple gift of time. Time spent listening, being attentive and fully present to other peoples needs helps you to become a balanced, motivated and well-rounded individual.
- Taking time to engage youths and keep them off the streets.
- Taking time to help people in need by, caring for elderly, reducing poverty and alleviating conflict.
- Taking time to be a solid role model, encourage and inspire others.
- Taking time to learn and share new skills.
- Taking time to appreciate and look to elders for experience and wisdom.
- Taking time to be thankful to each other often.
The gifts of time listed above benefit both the volunteer and the recipient. As I listened to the volunteers from around the country speak, it was clear that everyone had been enriched by the benefits of their volunteer time. All of them are putting it high on their list to individually and together, make Belize a better place for everyone.
San Pedro Winners at Belize Red Cross Awards Ceremony
We had 3 winners this year. Both Shirlee and I were very pleased that more volunteers are meeting the main award criteria required to be eligible for a nomination with the organization; one year of continuous service. That allows us enough time to see how active they have been in our branch through their accomplishments, activity and meeting participation.
Our World is Changing Are You?
This year’s slogan is a call to action, challenging RC volunteers worldwide to address the challenges facing their communities and beyond, to reach out and make positive changes in their world. All of the volunteers that won awards this year are already off to a great start at actively practicing “being the change” as you will see from their Bio’s.
Health Leadership: Ashty Dennison – Nominated by Branch Chairman Eiden Salazar
A massage therapist by trade, Ashty became a very active volunteer with Belize Red Cross – San Pedro Branch since she first attended a meeting in November 2014. She immediately became certified in First Aid/CPR. She attended the Volunteer Encounter in 2014 and Youth Camp in July 2015. Ashty successfully completed the First Aid/CPR Instructor’s training in May 2015 and has held several very well received training since then. On November 5, 2015, Ashty conducted training at Washington University Health & Science School located in San Pedro. The President of the school was so impressed with her work that they have requested the Basic First Aid/CPR training be given at the beginning of every semester.
Ashty impressed more than WUSH President and earned this year’s Health Leadership Award.
Outstanding Volunteer: Sue Barkhouse – Nominated by Branch Coordinator Shirlee Arnould
A retired college professor originally from Canada, Sue attended a San Pedro Branch Red Cross meeting in November 2014 after first volunteering at a blood drive earlier that month after a friend had been in need of blood. She immediately stepped up to take on the role as Co-Health Committee leader – Blood Drive Coordinator. Sue has successfully coordinated and hosted blood drives in San Pedro which have been held every 3 months where the average intake has been 30 pints. She has also attended other training offered by the Belize Red Cross and has been ever present at branch meetings and events.
Sue has definitely quantified for outstanding Volunteer for 2015.
Youth Volunteer: Luis Blanco – Nominated by Branch Media Laurie Norton
Luis is the San Pedro Branch Youth Representative. He is an upstanding young gentleman and a true asset to the Belize Red Cross – San Pedro Branch. He participated the Volunteer Encounter and Awards Ceremonies in 2013, and 2014. Although he is a full-time student at San Pedro High, Luis makes time to attend meetings and recruited other youth to get involved. He volunteered at the 2015 Lobster Festival First Aid booth in Central Park and attended the Youth Camp in July 2015.
Luis is a great role model for his peers and deserved his Youth Volunteer Award.
After the awards were given out a few of the San Pedro volunteers joked with Sir Colville that he was like Santa Clause and everyone was clamoring to get a picture with him.
To celebrate, we were all invited to lunch at the Radisson restaurant. Nothing says “job well done” better than sharing a meal and great conversation.
Here are picture collages of my day from start to finish. I left early on the 8:00 am Tropic Air flight to have some quiet time and enjoy a nice breakfast at Spoonaz Cafe before meeting the rest of the San Pedro Crew at the Fort George Radisson.
One last bit
Another great group of people who came together and started a monthly volunteer effort – First Friday Tres Cocos Trash Pick Up. Thanks for all you do to help keep our island clean.
Sometimes you have to look hard to see signs that we are winning the war on trash but they are there. For example, the San Pedro Town Council’s recently placed roadside trash barrels are generally full to overflowing. And the number of trash cleanup events on the island seem to be increasing. The number of local residents on their way to work who shout out “thank you” or stop to compliment volunteers is also on the rise. Excerpt from Robert Hawkins Belize Bound blog – Holy Cross kids join our monthly trash attack.
Below are a couple of aerial shots of our trash transfer station. It should be a mandatory field trip for all school kids along with garbage education so they gain a better understanding of why it is important to use trash cans and pick up litter. I once had a young girl (about 7) tell me that garbage does not matter and that it does not hurt the animals or where we live. This was after I told her I hoped she was going to pick up the lid and straw part of her cup after she was done playing in the sand with her cup.