Friday, August 23, 2013

VOLUNTEERISM …A GREAT WAY OF LIVING -with Honorary Member Kathleen Johnson

LIVING -with Honorary Member Kathleen Johnson

As a now retired Public Relations Practitioner I can hardly recall a time when I was not a volunteer.  As a child in high school I showed women of the Jamaica Federation of Women how to do embroidery, how to knit and do crochet. Simultaneously there was this helper of my acquaintance whom I assisted by taking her through the JAMAL reading process. 

I was a Girl Guide, a Cub Scout leader, Founding Secretary, long serving Treasurer (more than 20 years) of the PRSJ; a Founding Member/Life Member of WOMAN INC.; a Founding Board Member of United Way of Jamaica and the Jamaica Foundation for Children.  I also served as Chairman of the Kingston Branch of the YWCA and as President of the St Hugh’s Past Students Association.
I grew up seeing my mother making scarves for the Scouts and Cubs attached to the Lyndhurst Methodist Church and also rising early on a Sunday morning to prepare refreshments for the Officers of the Church who had to stay back after service to take care of various chores.  We were not rich but there was hardly a time when someone else’s children were not in our home while they attended regular school or extra classes in Kingston.

Happily in my experience there have not been many major changes in volunteerism through the years.  People are still willing to “give back” to the community as they have had the opportunity to grow and find success in their own lives.   I think also that mentoring and volunteerism has become more structured.

Volunteerism has played a very important and integral part in my personal career and development.   As Secretary to the Gleaner Editor Theodore Sealy I had the opportunity to learn some journalism as he had me accredited to cover the Jamaican contingent to a Caribbean Boys Scout Jamboree in Trinidad & Tobago.  Shortly after Independence Day, I gave up my vacation leave and got the opportunity to cover a tour of over 200 Jamaican teachers on a visit to the U.S.A., Canada and Mexico.  It was a wonderful and very enlightening experience which led to my recruitment into the Public Relations profession.

I would encourage anyone who has the time and the needed expertise to be a volunteer.  It can be fun, a meaningful activity which keeps you motivated and yet relaxed. I have served on the Board of the Best Care Foundation, which operates the Best Care Home for Mentally & Physically Challenged Children for over 30 years and although I do not have to work physically with the children, it has been a joy to make contacts and to use my professional expertise to help raise the cash to keep the home open and well run.  Its amazing how good it feels when a fund raising effort makes its

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