While high school students are often busy balancing their packed curriculum and extracurricular activities, the Sandals Foundation is encouraging its 42 ‘Care for Kids’ Scholarship recipients to see the value of delegating some time for volunteerism. Outside of the direct value of volunteerism to the building of communities and helping others, Executive Director of the Sandals Foundation, Heidi Clarke, notes that volunteerism helps to build valuable character traits that are critical for the development of youths.
“Philanthropy is not always about giving money and that is something we want teach everyone we come in contact with, especially the young people. Volunteerism can help to build wisdom and courage as you step outside of your daily activities and do something different. Also, in a time when our young people are so connected to their mobile devices and technology, volunteering builds empathy and can help our children to connect with humanity,” Clarke said.
The Sandals Foundation “Care for Kids” Scholarship program has supported over 176 deserving students through all five years of high school, and in some instances, on to 6th from and tertiary. There are currently 24 Jamaican students in the program along with students from Grenada, Antigua, Barbados, Saint Lucia, Turks and Caicos and Bahamas. The scholarship provides funding for tuition, books, uniforms, annual medicals along with ongoing mentorship and guidance.
Scholarship recipient and York Castle High student Mickel Nembhard said he has seen the value of getting involved in voluntary work and is very excited to continue giving back to his community along with the Sandals FOundation.
“I think it is of paramount importance to participate in voluntary work in communities. Rendering your time to serve and help others can touch the lives of many as well as influence others to also do the same. There is more joy in giving than receiving so volunteering can improve our joy and make for better communities and at large, a better Jamaica,” Nembhard said.
Nembhard and seven other “Care for Kids” scholarship recipients from the Ocho Rios region will be volunteering at the Ocho Rios Infirmary where they will spend time reading, helping to feed and comforting the residents.
“I am elated to volunteer at the local infirmary,” Nembhard said. “Helping and giving of my time for a good cause gives me great joy especially helping those who are more mature which will help me greatly in terms of what I can also learn from them.”
All scholarship recipients across the region will also be treated to lunch with senior management and staff of Sandals and Beaches Resorts where they will be able to share in motivational rap sessions and character building exercises.
Sandals Regional Public Relations Manager Lyndsay Isaacs said, in addition to providing the students with the financial backing to do well in school, it is also critical to that the foundation help with building the character of the students.
“Volunteerism has always been a large part of what we do at the Sandals Foundation. It offers a whole new experience to what you are used to and I am very excited to be able to accompany the students on this voluntary mission to the infirmary.”
Clarke said the Foundation has engaged over 20,000 volunteers in its nine years.
“We are working to build a habit of selfless giving in our students so they will always be reminded that, even though they may be challenged financially, giving of their time is equally as important in changing the world.”
The Sandals Foundation has, since it was formalized in 2009, has constructed three early childhood institutions and impacted over 140,000 students across the Caribbean through infrastructural upgrades to schools, donation of resources and equipment, outfitting computer labs and libraries and facilitating capacity building for teachers.