06 December 2006
by Shelly-Ann Thompson
Six volunteers in Kingston were officially recognised by Custos Canon Weeville Gordon and the International Volunteer Day Committee yesterday at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel, New Kingston.
The awards ceremony, which was the highlight of International Volunteer Day, was held under the theme, 'Volunteers Partnering for National Development: Together We Can Achieve More'.
The overall winner for contribution of voluntary efforts to nation building and development went to the skills-training organisation, Operation Friendship. For the past 45 years, the organisation has been offering employable skills training to the youth and vulnerable of inner-city communities such as Tivoli Gardens and those of west St. Andrew.
Those who were recognised individually for their statement of volunteerism to the parish were Karl Goodison, Karen Scale, Percival Cordwell, the Rev. Tony C.A. Cousins and Godfrey Lothian.
Mr. Goodison, brother of talk show host, Barbara Gloudon, has for decades served in several sectors. Currently, he is board chairman of the Human Employment and Resource Training Trust/National Training Agency and director at the Citizens' Advice Bureau.
Ms. Scale has for many years spent several hours on Saturday afternoons offering her service to people living with HIV/AIDS at Matthew Chapter 25. Mr. Cordwell, known as 'Heights Man', volunteers with children age 12 and under, honing their football and cricket abilities.
Rev. Cousins is chairman of the board of directors of Jones Town Agency For Change, which offers academic classes for school dropouts and provides a shut-in for the elderly of the community.
Mr. Lothian is associated with four major organisations such as the Kingston and St. Andrew Action Forum that caters to 53 communities.
Rev. Webster Edwards, chief executive officer of Operation Friendship, in his reply on behalf of the awardees, said volunteerism is never enough.
"Voluntary organisations are literally struggling to survive. Often you might see us smiling, but there are staff who we cannot pay and bills that need to be met."
Custos the Rev. Weeville Gordon in his greetings said that volunteerism is still alive today. "Volunteers make a difference by contributing their time, energy and talents to the causes they hold dear," he said.
Various agencies and non-governmental organisations were asked to select volunteers, whom they felt deserved recognition. The nominees were then submitted to the custodes in each parish, who also have the responsibility of International Volunteer Day. The awardees received certificates approved by the United Nations.
More than 150 volunteers across the island were awarded at parish awards ceremonies yesterday.