Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Caribbean Optimists make financial contribution to Annotto Bay Hospital

Tuesday May 28, 2013 was an exciting day for me personally as I am sure it was also for Zone 4 Lieutenant Governor Andrea Samuels who accompanied me to the Annotto Bay Hospital to finally hand over the money raised from our fundraising concert staged by the University Singers in June 2012.
Members of Optimist International Caribbean District Zone 4 can be proud of their contribution of sixty thousand JA dollars which will go towards helping the hospital in their provision of quality health care to the children it serves.
The hospital, located in the north eastern parish of St Mary, Jamaica, was severely damaged by hurricane Sandy in September 2012 but is on its way to full recovery; thanks to the effort of many public and private enterprises including the Ministry of Health and the RJR Communications Group.
We as Optimists in Zone 4 have been building a steady relationship with the hospital administration since early 2012. Activities by the Optimists include the Zone 4 Labour Day project of 2012 (http://7804optimist.blogspot.com/2012/05/zone-4-labour-day-2012-pictorial.html) which saw Optimist cleaning up the compound and painting the conference room which now provides temporary accommodation for the administrative staff while the refurbishing from hurricane Sandy takes place.
The Optimist Club of Castleton Gardens has also been visiting with the children and staff of the hospital and have contributed valuable supplies.
I take this opportunity to thank all members of the zone along with the many individuals and private sector companies who made it possible for us to make this contribution as we seek to make a difference one child at a time.

Participating in the handing over exercise at the hospital were:
Chief Executive Officer, Ms Arlene Mighty
Hospital administrator, Ms Pauline Meek
Sisters Claudia Hardy and Tracey Reynolds Director and Deputy Director of Nursing Services, respectively
Optimist International Caribbean District Zone 4 Lieutenant Governor, Andrea Samuels and Past Lieutenant Governor, Patrick Prendergast.
Optimist International is one of the world's largest voluntary service club organisations with over 75,000 adult members in more than 2600 clubs across the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean. Carrying the motto "Bringing Out the Best in Kids", Optimists reach over six million children and young people annually through their positive service projects.
The Caribbean District currently has just over 60 clubs spread across Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Cayman Islands, Jamaica and St Lucia and has built a reputation of doing extremely valuable projects in childhood cancer, HIV&AIDS, and supporting schools and various youth-based activities through its Oratorical and Essay competitions, Communication Contest for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing, as well golf competitions.
(L-R) Administrator Pauline Meek, CEO Arlene Might, LtG Andrea Samuels, Sister Tracey Reynolds, and Sister Claudia Hardy

Monday, May 27, 2013

The women inspiring my journey in District 78

My journey in Optimist International District #78 - the Caribbean District - has been filled with nothing but absolute inspiration. Recently I have been reflecting on how much OI as an organisation has changed from its early 20th Century all-male orientation to a more progressive embrace of gender equality, and consequently, supporting the rise of women at all levels. (I am working on a special feature looking at the amazing trend of women governors in the District).
This reflective exercise has also had me thinking about the impact women have had on my own trek in Optimism - the best of the world's largest voluntary service organisations - and especially how much of the inspiration I feel is under girded by the unflinching support from many of these women. 
I was invited to join Optimism by one of my dear friends, Dahlia Vanriel. Her line was simple and went something like this: You work so well with young people and in so many communities; why don't you join my Optimist club where I am sure you will feel a new sense of fulfillment bringing out the best in kids?
So began my journey as an Optimist and what has become an awesome engagement with some extremely marvelous, brilliant, and outstanding Caribbean women. Since then I have adapted Charlie's council of an always-ready and reassuringly loyal triad of angels - Dahlia, Heather Chin-Walker and Latoya Wade (Sunset Liguanea). 

Across the District are some young motivators who never allow too much time to pass without  sharing with me their innovative and creative ideas on how we can and do make a difference as Optimists. Among them, the likes of Shalana Waterman and Darshani Workman (Bridgetown Barbados), Andrea Samuels (Kingston Breakfast/West St Andrew), Kerisha Pinnock (Mammee Bay), Maxine Francis (North Portmore), and Keitha Glace (St Lisi).
Then there are those women in whom certain focal points of Optimism just seem to find perfect match. They include the long-standing torch bearers in JOOI, Lisa-Gaye Anderson (Kingston Breakfast) and in Childhood Cancer, Pat McLean (Constant Spring); both of whom have seen remarkable triumphs (and thus adversities) in what they do.
And, there are still others who have been so open to sharing their leadership and management experiences with me, fully conscious of my belief that wisdom lies with those who make lessons from all that life offers. Past LtG Margaret Wright (West St. Andrew), Past IVPs Shirley Jarrett (Ocho Rios) and Dr. Carol Haynes (Barbados Bridgetown), along with CP Faith McFarqhar-Gordon (Sunset Optimist Club of Kingston) find favour in this group.
Finally, there is yet another triad I cannot help but love for their generosity of spirit, guidance and direction - Past Governors Cecille Hale (Sunset Optimist Club of Kingston) and Gene M. Douglas (North St Andrew) as well as IVP Sonia Anderson (St. Ann's Bay). My interests in training and education as critical tools for personal and collective development, my eagerness to understand and appreciate the rules of the game and how to creatively operationalize same as we seek to remain modern and relevant, and the value placed on building mutually respectful and broad-based people-centered relationships have been so deepened by especially these three women of the Caribbean District.
Optimist International Caribbean District will see another of its remarkable women in pole position come 2013-2014 with Governor Nutilia Simon (Antigua and Barbuda). I want to believe that not only are the women of the District proud of their achievements but many of the men will have also felt, like I have, the positive impact of their being a part of this most wonderful voluntary service organisation called Optimism - and in such a short period of time! (The other story cometh soon)

To all the women of our great Caribbean District I say, Respect and thanks for the inspiration on this tremendously positive and fulfilling journey in Optimism!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Sunset Liguanea Hands Over IV Pump to UHWI Children Ward

Another promise fulfilled!
The children ward at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) was presented with an Intravenous (IV) pump valued at $112,000.00 by the Sunset Optimist Club of Liguanea on Monday May 20, 2013.
An IV pump regulates the rate and amount of medication being given to a patient and makes for more efficient and cost-effective delivery of health care to especially those newborns in critical care.
Club president, Lavern Brown showered commendation on the staff of the children ward for their continued dedication and excellence despite the odds. In acknowledging the initiative of past president, Marc-Maurice Frankson in leading the effort at getting the badly needed piece of technology, President Lavern said she was happy the club has been able to keep its promise to the hospital and the children.
Receiving on behalf of the hospital was Acting Director of Nursing, Child Health, Mrs Marva Forbes who expressed her deep appreciation to President Lavern Brown for the gift. Also on hand were Nurse Liaison Officer, Heather Davis and Professor and Head, Department of Child Health, Dr. Minerva Thame.
According to Dr Thame, "This is a big thing for us. We are trying our best to cope with the limited equipment; but your gift will surely go a far way in making a difference for the children in our care".
Supporting the Sunset Liguanea president were treasurer, Kenneth Walker Snr. past secretary, Dahlia Vanriel; and prospective member Joan Beecher along with past president Patrick Prendergast, and Zone 4 Lieutenant Governor Andrea Samuels.

(L-R) Professor Minerva Thame, Nurse Heather Davis, Optimist Dahlia Vanriel, Joan Beecher, Nurse Marva Forbes, Treasurer Ken Walker Snr, President Lavern, LtG Andrea Samuels

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Sunset Liguanea shares Optimism with Eve for Life

The morning of Monday May 13 was not just another regular Monday morning for members of the Sunset Optimist Club of Liguanea. It was the first activity in what President Lavern Brown has dubbed, "the packed month of May" and we were gathering at the new premises of EVE for Life, an empowering NGO that supports women and children living with HIV, on Richmond Park Avenue in Kingston, Jamaica.
Sunset Liguanea was fulfilling a year-old promise to support the establishment of a reading area for the young people who benefit from the initiatives taken by EVE for Life. So, on Monday, as President Lavern noted, "when we make a promise we keep it", the club was handing over books, bags, a micro wave oven, and a wall fan to the organisation.
On hand to receive the well needed items were Chairperson of EVE for Life, Emma Lewis who noted that as someone with experience in the book industry she understands and appreciates the effort at getting reading materials for the young women. Responding to the additional support items she said, “These are all practical and useful gifts that will enhance our programmes”.
Other members of the EVE family present included Director of Programmes and Training, Joy Crawford who is also the co-founder of the organisation which has become such a critical support system for young people, particularly girls, who face many challenges due to their status.
Miss Crawford's commitment and passion for the empowerment of young people cannot be questioned as she is among the leading advocates calling for young people to be given a voice at the decision making level. Young people she argues must participate in the efforts at addressing the challenges of HIV and public education around sexual and reproductive health among that age group.
Advocacy Officer and administrative assistant, Nadine Bigby-Swaby as well as Counselling psychologist, Optimist Marjorie Samuels were also part of the EVE for Life family.
The Sunset Liguanea family was represented by President Lavern, Vice President Sharon Passley, Secretary Karlene Walker, Treasurer Kenneth Walker Snr., and Chairpersons Horace Jones and Kenneth Walker Jnr along with Past President Patrick Prendergast.
Treasurer Kenneth Walker Snr., President Lavern Brown, EVE4Life co-founder Joy Crawford,  EVE4Life Chairperson Emma Lewis, and Secretary Karlene Walker

Coming Up...
On Monday May 20, the club will move to the University Hospital of the West Indies where they will hand over an IV Pump to the children's ward.  And, later in the week they will join junior Optimists at Rousseau Primary School for a Labour Day project at the school as well for their special Girls and Boys days on May 21 and 29, respectively.