Statement
5 December 2018 - 4:12pm

MESSAGE BY THE MINISTER OF HEALTH AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
HONOURABLE MARLON PENN

IN CELEBRATION OF INTERNATIONAL VOLUNTEER DAY
5TH DECEMBER, 2018

VOLUNTEERS BUILD RESILIENT COMMUNITIES

People of the Virgin Islands; International Volunteer Day (IVD) 2018 is being celebrated this year under the theme “Volunteers build Resilient Communities”.  Through this period of celebration we want to recognise our local volunteers or those who I would like to deem heroes who have contributed and continue to assist in making their communities more resilient against natural disasters.

In the British Virgin Islands, we were fortunate to have an active group of volunteers who came out in full force following the impacts and the events of 2017. They have helped those who were affected and assisted with the restoration of our most critical systems.  Within a few months’ time, we were well on our way to restoring our way of life however, this would not have been possible without the help of our local volunteers as well as those who came to our shores to assist.  Today, our volunteers continue to contribute towards the recovery efforts by helping to rebuild schools, clean up our communities, community centers and other critical facilities. I want to congratulate all those who continue to do good.

For those who wish to contribute to their communities in a meaningful way I urge you to consider becoming part of a local volunteer group.  Many years ago I too was a volunteer serving as a member of the Disaster Auxiliary Corp.  We not only supported the work of the Department of Disaster Management but we were an important part of the emergency response operations. 

My involvement in this group paved a way for me to become more formally engaged in helping the people of The Virgin Islands but more importantly it gave me the satisfaction that I was helping to contribute to an important programme that would save life and alleviate the suffering of our people when disasters strike.

There is no doubt in my mind that volunteerism is integral to our culture.  It enriches us, brings us together as a community, helps keep businesses and other organizations afloat, but more importantly it helps us become better individuals.  It is a healthy approach to life!

Getting involved in volunteering is easy as there are so many options available to us.  A number of voluntary organizations have come together today to celebrate International Volunteer Day.  You will see them around in their t-shirts and you will hear about the many activities that they are implementing.  Reach out to them, find out about their work and see if it’s a good fit for you.  The more people we have willing to give of their time and effort the better we will be as a Territory. I would also like to appeal to those same organisations to do their part and ensure that they are registered by the Non-Profit Organisations Registration Board to ensure that there are the checks and balances within our system.

The Department of Disaster Management provides training for volunteers and encourages those who are trained to become part of the National Volunteer Register.  Contact them today and learn more about their programmes.  Natural hazards will continue to affect us but we can withstand the impacts if we build resilient structures, systems and programmes.  Become a part of this process!

So as we celebrate International Volunteer Day today I encourage you to think about how you can help to contribute and transform your community.  Become a volunteer, be the change that we need, be kind and be willing to give back. I Thank You.

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