During 2018, the Cayman Islands Red Cross is planning to expand the work it does in the community and to get even more people on island trained in first aid and CPR skills.
This year, the Red Cross plans to add professional first responder training; identify and train volunteers to deliver a number of new courses, including first aid/CPR/AED to Spanish-speaking residents; a baby-sitting course for teens; and a specific first aid course for young people. It also plans to improve the first aid coverage services for community events.
The organization announced its plans for the year at its annual volunteer appreciation gala last month, at which the Red Cross honored some of its longest serving volunteers and celebrated the work of the many individuals who give their time to help others.
Last year, first aid program volunteers provided first aid coverage at 65 events. The first aid program was also responsible for training more than 1,200 persons in life saving skills, 20 people in basic water rescue and 12 lifeguards.
Further plans for 2018 include enhancing the partnership with the Needs Assessment Unit and the Department of Children and Family Services, developing a working partnership with the Community Emergency Response Teams in an effort to better identify and assist the most vulnerable within those communities, and improving the overall quality of the products and services offered by the Red Cross Thrift Shop, the organization stated in a press release.
At “The Henris,” the volunteer appreciation gala at the Marriott hotel, long service pins were awarded to Peter Milburn, Myrtle Thomas, Oswald Thomas and Janilee Clifford for more than 30 years of service to the organization. Special recognition was also given to three youth volunteers: Dreshna James, Carina James and Bianca Rego-Ramos, who devoted their summer to providing administrative support to the Red Cross.
Governor Helen Kilpatrick, who is patron of the Cayman Islands Red Cross, and Minister of Finance Roy McTaggart, spoke at the event which was attended by 149 volunteers and guests.
“The work of volunteers in our community is very important,” Minister McTaggart said. “During the evacuation of South Sound last year the Red Cross volunteers were able to get the shelter open in 25 minutes: that is amazing.”
Acting Disaster Manager Keith Ford, in an overview of the work done in the community by the volunteers and through the Community Emergency Response Teams, said that in 2017, 42 volunteers were trained as shelter managers, 46 were trained in disaster risk assessment, and another 15 were trained in radio communications. Youth awareness about disasters was also highlighted as the Red Cross accommodated 70 young people from four local primary schools at its headquarters as part of its disaster education initiative.
According to the Red Cross, its goals for 2018 include training new National Intervention Team members, assisting in the integration of the national emergency response team in Cayman Brac, and focusing attention on earthquake response preparations and training.
Volunteer and Resources Manager Samantha White-Smith announced at the event that 115 new volunteers were inducted into the organization in 2017.
In the Disaster Management category, the volunteer of the year was Carlene Bradshaw-Miller and distinguished volunteer lead was Ransford Fagan, while Anderson Skinner was commended for behind the scenes disaster management support.
Odette DaCosta was recognized as First Aid Volunteer of the Year, while Carlene Bradshaw-Miller, Annette Bankasingh and Michael Rhoden were commended for Outstanding Support in first aid coverage.
The Thrift Shop Volunteer of the Year was Sonia Morris, with additional awards were given to Pamella Martin, Stephanie Bennett and Donna Barnwell for their work at the Thrift Shop.
Under the Administration Support category, the Newcomer of the Year award went to Veron Lawson; Karen Wade won Overall Organizational Support; Rumbidzai Kaguda won Administration Support: the Outstanding Program Support went to Antoinette Blanchard; and Behind the Scenes Support award to Anup Rao.
The Volunteer’s Choice Award, which is determined by the volunteers themselves, was presented to three volunteers: Robert Cialon, Carlene Bradshaw-Miller and Michael Gayle.
The evening closed with the presentation of the Volunteer of the Year award, which was presented to Sonia Morris, who has been volunteering at the Red Cross since 2007.
“There would be no Red Cross without volunteers,” said Jondo Obi, director of the organization. “We say that every year, and we mean it every year. Volunteers are our greatest asset, and we are honored and humbled by their commitment to this organization and this community.”
For more information on how to volunteer or donate to the Cayman Islands Red Cross, contact [email protected] or 925-2251.