Red Cross celebrates its volunteers

Governor Martyn Roper with the Red Cross gold award recipients.

The Cayman Islands Red Cross handed out awards to some of its hardest-working volunteers at its 16th annual volunteer-appreciation event.

The celebration of volunteers for 2019, titled ‘The Henris’, after Red Cross founder Henri Durant, was held 18 Jan. at the Marriott Grand Cayman Resort.

At the event, Julette Clemmings was named Volunteer of the Year, and Tashalee Christie was presented the Volunteers’ Choice award, which is selected by the volunteers themselves.

In a press release, Cayman Islands Red Cross director Jondo Obi said, “The Red Cross is an organisation built on volunteer work and community engagement. This event first started as a way to recognise the tremendous work done by volunteers during Hurricane Ivan and since then has become an annual event which celebrates our volunteers and the work they’ve put in in the [past] year.”

The event opened with Governor Martyn Roper thanking the volunteers for their hard work and contribution to the Cayman Islands community.

Volunteer of the Year 2018 Annette Bankasingh, left, hands the award to the Volunteer of the Year 2019 Julette Clemmings.

Estella Martin was awarded a long-service pin for her 33 years of volunteering, as were Anderson Skinner, Martha Flores and Murreen Broomfield for 15 years of service.

Youth volunteers Nathaniel Forbes, Carina James, Kareisha Nelson, and Dalton Nelson Jr. were specially recognised.

Carolina Ferreira, deputy director and child protection and sexuality education programme manager, summarised the work done in 2019. The multi-agency group, Protection Starts Here, published its child-safety lesson called ‘My Body is My Own’, which targets children ages 3-6. The lesson, piloted in 2018, last year began distributing its materials free of cost to child-service organisations throughout Grand Cayman.

So far, the PSH has trained more than 100 teachers, representing 54 different classrooms, and distributed 1,000 booklets and posters to children. “Through this lesson and its illustrated stars ‘Bobo’ and ‘Teedee’, children are provided with knowledge, language and confidence to see that the safety net of adults around them should never feel unsafe or uncomfortable, to empower them with agency over their own bodies, and to be able to ask for help if needed,” Ferreira said.

She added that, in 2019, 570 teachers, parents and other individuals were trained in the ‘Darkness to Light – Child Sexual Abuse Training’.

At the event, first aid instructor Ricki Ducent thanked volunteers for covering 59 events over the course of the year. More than 1,200 people were trained in the first aid programme with 11 lifeguards certified.

Thrift shop manager Remy Imperial thanked the volunteers for their dedication to the store throughout a ‘tumultuous’ year. Due to renovation to the headquarters building, the thrift shop was temporarily relocated, and often  operated out of the cricket pitch.

“Through these challenging circumstances, the Thrift Shop volunteers worked tirelessly to provide assistance to 114 vulnerable clients, and to serve close to 13,000 customers in both the indoor and outdoor locations,” the Red Cross said in the press release.

The thrift shop re-opened in its original location on 25 Jan.

Disaster manager Eddie Sepp Tinling-Miller provided an overview of 2019, during which several storms and six hurricanes hit the region.

During hurricane season, the Red Cross joined with Hazard Management Cayman Islands to engage with 20 schools and more than 2,500 students throughout the island.

Disaster-preparedness efforts in 2019 included training a new Community Emergency Response Team, along with Hazard Management, to add to the seven already operating on island. Additionally, 60 new volunteers were trained in shelter management, 41 in radio communications, and 45 in fire-safety management.

One of the year’s biggest disaster-preparedness exercises was ‘Operation Aftershock’ where, in coordination with the Cayman Islands Cadet Corps, volunteers took part in a two-day disaster simulation, which included hiking, sleeping outdoors, crossing chest-deep water, and simulating emergency-response situations. The exercise will be repeated for the third time in 2020.

According to the Red Cross, additional plans for the upcoming year include providing continuous training for volunteers so they are prepared and equipped to respond to any local or national disaster, establishing additional CERT teams, maintaining the disaster-supply containers on island, and continuing to raise awareness on disaster preparedness and response for 500 additional students.

Volunteer of the Year
Julette Clemmings
Volunteers’ Choice Award
Tashalee Christie
First Aid
1. First Aid Volunteer of the Year – Helen Wong
2. Outstanding Support – First Aid Coverage – Annette Bankasingh
3. Outstanding Support – First Aid Coverage – Pamella Martin
4. Outstanding Support – First Aid Coverage – Carlene Bradshaw-Miller
Thrift Shop
1. Thrift Shop Volunteer of the Year – Julette Clemmings
2. All Around Thrift Shop Support Award – Gwenever Hamil
3. Thrift Shop Administration Support  Award – Stephanie Bennett
4. Community Outreach Award – Alejandro Ruiz
Disaster Management
1. DM Volunteer of the Year – Howard Shrouder
2. Exceptional Leadership Award – Ironci Blackman
3. Exceptional Leadership Award – Tatiana Kosinchar
Administration Support
1. Newcomer of the Year – Keren Watson
2. Overall Organizational Support Award – Pamella Martin
3. Behind the Scenes Support Award – Patrick Douglas

If you value our service, if you have turned to us in the past few days or weeks for verified, factual updates, if you have watched our live streaming of press conferences or sent an article to a friend... please consider a donation. Quality local journalism was at risk before the coronavirus crisis. It is now deeply threatened. Even a small amount can go a long way to sustaining our mission of informing the public. We need our readers’ financial support now more than ever.