Christmas in Belize

We Accomplished a lot and Enjoyed a Great Celebration

It was a busy year 

We may not have a building yet but that did not stop the San Pedro Branch of the Belize Red Cross from working hard in our community throughout 2015. In the coming year, we hope to have a big space to call our own so we can continue our work in first aid and have a place to run community programs for youth and seniors.

A year in review

2015 Red Cross certification for First Aid/CPR Training:
2015 brought our First Aid/CPR training to a new level, with the certification of an instructor who lives on the island, Rather than bringing someone over from HQ. Ashty Dennison is currently the only FA/CPR instructor certified by Belize Red Cross on the island. Martin Dawson is the certified assistant.

This year, 64 people were trained in 6 sessions; 6 businesses, 2 schools, 3 private citizens and 2 new Red Cross volunteers were represented. Since our 2013 re-inception of the San Pedro Branch, 263 people have been First Aid Trained with 46 businesses sending staff. 2 lives have been saved both kids.

2016 First Aid/CPR Training:
After watching Ashty teach, the President of Washington University has indicated a desire to have training done at the beginning of each semester. Negotiations for that will be scheduled sometime in January.

Anyone that is interested in taking the training should contact Aimee Fearneyhough the new FA/CPR Coordinator via

Belize Red Cross
Have a Safe and Merry Christmas

2015 First Aid Stations: 
We had stations at 3 events this year; at the 5k walk for Mental Health Awareness, Lobsterfest, and the Saga Halloween party. We gave out plenty of water and administered bandages to a couple of blistered heels and ice for a hurt knee. The most popular activity at the stations has been blood pressure checking.

What’s Ahead; First Aid Stations: A list of local events is being created so that we might have a First Aid Station set up or First Aiders simply walking around with kits in hand to render assistance if needed.

2015 Blood Drives: Sue Barkhouse successfully planned and with the help of many volunteers, executed 3 blood drives in 2015 – February 7, June 27 and October 3; with 100 pints collected. To date, the San Pedro Branch has collected 203 pints of blood for our Ambergris Caye Reserve and generated $2400 in cash.

2016 Blood Drives: 4 quarterly blood drives to be scheduled for 2016.

2015 Trainings attended were:
Resource Mobilization Training; Ashty Dennison, Sue Barkhouse, and Wendy Alter
Street Mediation Part 2; Shirlee Arnould
First Aid Instructor; Ashty Dennison, Martin Dawson, Philip Ramsey and Mike Memeo
Street Beat Follow up; Shirlee Arnould and Laurie Norton

What’s Ahead; Training: Training opportunities come from Belize Red Cross Headquarters and we will always send volunteers subject to availability and interest.

In Review; Youth: All 5 youth that attended Zoo Camp July 6 – “ 10, said it was an awesome learning experience. $400 was raised by the youth at a golf cart wash on May 30, to cover their travel costs.
Our youth representative attended a symposium on August 14, put on by the United Nations Department of Youth Services; celebrating the International Youth Day 2015 (August 12). This year’s the theme was “Youth Civic Engagement”. The main goal of the theme was to promote young people’s effective inclusiveness in civic engagement at all levels.

What’s Ahead; Youth: Ashty Dennison has taken on the role as adult Youth Coordinator. Luis Blanco will continue as youth representative (a voting board position) and Ashley Saunders is a welcome addition to help arrange more youth activities.

In Review; Volunteer Vacations: BRCSP hosted 4 groups who assisted with various events in Belize.

Texas A&M group – March 14th – 17th and 21st 2015
This student group of 14 of them came for 4 days and another group of 14 for one day. They were interested in learning more about tropical diseases and conditions that are more common in Belize. Our branch arranged for them to go on a Dr’s office tour and talk to all the doctors to get their questions answered. At the end of their stay, they gifted us with a first aid Mannequin.

Florida Association for Volunteer Action in the Caribbean and the Americas (FAVACA)
March 26th – 28th 2015 – Brought to San Pedro Branch by Director General Lily Bowman, Belize Red Cross. The purpose was for them to do a comprehensive assessment of San Mateo in order for the Belize Red Cross to use it when applying for grants to fix the infrastructure of this area so it would no longer be a threat to the people and environment.

FAVACA helps facilitate projects that are demand driven; resulting from needs identified locally and defined in collaboration with partners and community members. FAVACA is a non-profit international development agency that provides short-term training and technical assistance throughout Latin America and has completed more than 175 trainings in Belize since 1988.

FAVACA conducted an initial site visit to San Mateo. Shirlee and Laurie took them to meet residents in the area and get to know them before coming back to do the assessment.

They also met with Severo Guerrero to have the town board be included in the plans for their work. The Mayor was unavailable at the time.

Sperro Toronto Canada
June 5th – 8th 2015 – Sperro is a not for profit organization made up of 18-35-year-old young adults who share a desire to serve the community. While planning their trip they reached out to work with the Red Cross in San Pedro. The group of 26 was very eager to participate in an island food drive.

The San Pedro Branch collaborated with the San Pedro Foodbank and SAGA Humane Society to hold a massive food drive spanning 13 locations. It was a demonstration of amazing teamwork with over 50 volunteers from 3 great organizations. At that time the food bank was supporting 22 families (120 people) with a waiting list of 40 families (200 people).

United Methodist Church Johnstown Colorado 
June 4th to 25th San Pedro Branch paired this group of 4 adults and 7 kids with Ambergris Caye Elementary School to catalog their library to the Dewey Decimal system. Along with the initial plan, the group took the initiative to notice ways they could improve the safety of the school and did some construction work. They made a stairway safer, fixed a sink so it was within easier reach of children for hand washing, fixed other plumbing and built a wheelchair ramp. In addition to all the work done The Johnstown group donated tools and money to the school.

June 13th – 21st 2015; FSU EMHS in partnership with the Belize Red Cross Society, a team of 16 assisted by Red Cross volunteers did a full assessment to measure the water and sanitation situation of the San Mateo community and to assess storm vulnerabilities. The 9-day research project also included a site survey of the San Pedrito neighborhood.

What’s Ahead; Volunteer Vacations:
San Pedro Branch is actively working on increasing voluntarism in Belize through bringing volunteer groups down to help our community and enhance their tropical vacation experience by getting their hands dirty and giving back. Our first spring group are coming from a US dentist’s office and will be working with the Polyclinic. Any organization that is need of volunteer assistance should contact us at

Fundraising events:
May; El Patio Dinner $1338.00
June; Blue Water Grill’s “Match the donations” program, $502.00
Last Friday of the month Crazy Canucks Trivia, $1075.00
Minute to Win It – Roadkill Bar, $185.00

A Slice of Christmas in Belize

For me this year the timing of the boat parade made it a big celebration especially as it got postponed till Monday and I was working on year-end recap for press deadline before I could do it all over for my blog. As I looked back over the last year and reviewed everything that our Branch has accomplished, I got very excited. The thought that we are changing history by saving lives and helping people is something special. Definitely, a reason to celebrate 2015 Holiday season and a solid way to pave the way for 2016. Special thanks to Mayor Daniel Guerrero for coming to the Red Cross Christmas party and bringing an oversized check from the San Pedro Town Council to help us continue our work.

San Pedro Town Council donating a check to San Pedro Belize Red Cross
Mayor Daniel donating a check from Town Council to San Pedro Belize Red Cross

15 boats committed to creativity and making this annual festive parade one to remember. The charities chosen to benefit from the event were San Pedro Food Bank, SAGA Humane Society, Ambergris Caye Elementary School, and Belize Red Cross San Pedro Branch.

The Parade route was from Wayo’s Bar north to Coco Loco’s, then south with a stop at the new Palapa Bar Dock (old Wet Willy’s) to get judged on the way. After reaching as far as Crazy Canucks, the boats turned around and headed to Sandbar Beachfront Hostel and Restaurant for the winner’s announcement, awards ceremony, and raffle drawings.

One boat had a minor incident, losing their decorative piece. The boat did not capsize, and no injuries occurred.

Boat Parade Winners:
1st – Captain Rick Sutherland of Miss Zetti, sponsored by Ramon’s Village Resort
2nd – Captain Wayne McRae of Way-Lin Eh, sponsored by Coco Loco’s Beach Bar and Caye Coffee
3rd – Third place went to Captain Ben of Mojo Rising, sponsored by The Truck Stop and Palapa Tours.

Best Small Boat award, donated by Reef Management & Consulting Services, went to Eric Henkis of “Urising”, sponsored by The Phoenix Resort.

Honorable mentions and awards were given to the A.C.E.S charity boat, Miss Ness – sponsored by 12 Belize and Belize Diving Adventures, Captain Ben Robinson of Baby Boy – sponsored by Marbucks Cafe and Palapa Tours, Captain Jose Luis Zapata of Gaven – sponsored by Jose Luis Zapata Studios, and Captain Kevin Smith of the VIP boat, Island Dream Tour’s YOLO – sponsored by Kevin and Heather Smith.

Dan Jamison, the winner of the 50/50 Raffle,  gave his $526 earnings back to the charities on behalf of DandE’s Frozen Custard.

Dee Regis, Brittney O’Daniel, Joe Chung, and the SP Holiday Boat Parade Committee would like to thank the following sponsors for their support in making this event a reality in such a short timeframe: Sandbar Beachfront Hostel & Restaurant; Aqua Vista Beachfront Suites; Sandy Point Resorts; Wayo’s Beach Bar, Crazy Canucks Beach Bar; Coco Loco’s Beach Bar; Island Dream Tours; The Phoenix Resort; Palapa Tours; Belize Diving Adventures; Ramon’s Village Resort; Palapa Tours; The Truck Stop; The San Pedro Sun; 12 Belize; Chuck & Robbie’s; Lola’s Pub; Palapa Bar & Grill; Caye Coffee; Paradise Theater; Tropic Air; Wild Mango’s Restaurant; Black Orchid Restaurant; Lone Star Restaurant; Captain Shark’s Marine Center; Belizean Melody; Go Yoga; Stella’s Smile; LC Distributor; Castillo’s Hardware; Banana Beach Resort; Coconut Carts; Projects Abroad; Reef Management & Consulting Services.

They would also like to extend a big thank you to all of the organizers and volunteers for their amazing donation of time, goods, cash, and services in the midnight hour; this event would not have been possible if it were not for this supportive community. Thanks also goes to the panel of judges, and their hosts Sandbar and Palapa Bar & Grill.

Help make next year even bigger and better, please buy copious amounts of on sale Christmas lights of all different types just after the holidays. Bring them year-round, and  SP Holiday Boat Parade Committee will store them until next year’s parade.

The San Pedro Branch of the Belize Red Cross would like to thank the organizers; Sandbar Hostel, Aqua Vista, Crazy Canucks and Wayo’s and everyone who helped in any way for going above and beyond to keep the lighted boat parade tradition alive. Without your help, many charity boats could not have taken the opportunity to participate.

The branch would also like to thank Ecologic Divers for the Impromptu Catamaran as our boat, Brittney O’Daniel for all her help, Dustin Bowen for sponsoring lights and Travelers for sponsoring rum for the elves. They greatly deserved a celebratory rum punch after all the hard work building the Red Cross Reindeer. Dj Hoy played ambient festive music all night long.

As you will see in my photo collages, the day was perfect and the night was lit by creativity. Thanks to all who helped out on the decorating committee or bought tickets on the Red Cross boat.

Christmas in Belize
The Cadillac of rides Ecologic Divers Impromptu
Belize Celebrations
Red Cross Reindeer and a small part parade line up
Belize Celebrations
Stunning light displays for the 2016 lighted boat parade
Belize Celebrations
Boats went all in this year for creative decorating
Christmas in Belize
2015 San Pedro Lighted Boat Parade

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