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EDITORIAL: Blessed be the volunteers


EDITORIAL: Blessed be the volunteers

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IN A FEW weeks we will celebrate Christmas. It is a time which brings out the best in many of us. And it is often done not by giving of expensive gifts, but by reaching out to help others, through voluntarism.

Today, December 5, is observed as International Volunteer Day, but like so many of the proclaimed international observances, it rather unfortunately goes virtually unnoticed in Barbados. What many volunteers do will not attract media attention since it is mostly not about celebrities, tragedy, nor even missteps people in authority make daily. There is nothing sensational about voluntarism, so it will hardly make the news. Rather, it is about what many Barbadians do for the betterment of their communities, often quietly and sometimes even anonymously.

Voluntarism is unique and indeed a worthwhile way in which to harness some of the best skills in our society as we fight to eradicate poverty and hunger, reach out to the young and the elderly, strive to end discrimination and violence against women, build awareness of the need to protect the environment and help in the efforts to reduce inequalities and exclusion. Often, when a disaster occurs, it is the volunteers who make a difference.

We in Barbados are fortunate to have a corps of volunteers who give yeoman service in an effort to help uplift their fellow man. Service clubs such as the Lions, Rotary, Kiwanis, Optimists, as well as churches, with the Salvation Army a prime example, the YWCA and YMCA all work tirelessly in various areas and for various causes, with their members being unswerving volunteers.

Think of how our schools would benefit if we were to volunteer. It would be near impossible to place a price tag on the value of services given by our volunteers.

So, thanks to them all, these individuals whose spirit of giving is something we would like to see many others display since there is so much more to be done, especially for the innocent young and vulnerable elderly.

As we look to celebrate Christmas, the spirit of voluntarism should be foremost on our list, whether you are a student, mother, father or even an active grandparent. Your efforts can touch many, whether the children of those imprisoned or our seniors resident in one of the geriatric hospitals or care homes. We should also volunteer as special ushers welcoming visitors, whether they are here on a cruise or for a two-week holiday.

Let us work hard to give this gift of voluntarism not only during this Yuletide season, but throughout the year. By volunteering, most times we will be the ones to reap the rewards. We will make new friends sharing a similar outlook, we can pass on our knowledge and expertise, and at the same time share our passion. Yes, through voluntarism, we can make a difference.