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Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, listens to Acting Senior Director of Community Services at the HEART NSTA Trust, Ronique Rhoden, at an event held at Jamaica House, recently.
Photo: Yhomo Hutchinson

Story Highlights

  • The Human Employment and Resource Training/National Service Training Agency (HEART/NSTA) Trust is seeking to build civic responsibility amongst Jamaicans through its Volunteer Programme.
  • The initiative is designed for persons to participate in volunteer activities that will positively enhance their community and the society. So far, almost 8,000 volunteers have registered under the programme.
  • Acting Senior Director of Community Services at the HEART/NSTA Trust, Ronique Rhoden, tells JIS News that the initiative is one of the flagship programmes of the agency.

The Human Employment and Resource Training/National Service Training Agency (HEART/NSTA) Trust is seeking to build civic responsibility amongst Jamaicans through its Volunteer Programme.

The initiative is designed for persons to participate in volunteer activities that will positively enhance their community and the society. So far, almost 8,000 volunteers have registered under the programme.

Acting Senior Director of Community Services at the HEART/NSTA Trust, Ronique Rhoden, tells JIS News that the initiative is one of the flagship programmes of the agency.

“We recently underwent a merger with the HEART/Trust NTA, the National Youth Service (NYS), the Jamaican Foundation for Lifelong Learning, as well as the Apprenticeship Board.

Volunteerism was always something that the NYS did in all its programming. And now that we have merged, we have expanded volunteerism and made it into a full-blown programme,” she explains.

“So now we accommodate persons of all ages. Now that the mandate has expanded, we are able to treat with not only youth but all persons interested in being volunteers and to really contribute to the growth of the country,” Ms. Rhoden adds.

She points out that the volunteer programme aims to ensure that individuals are civic minded, noting that Jamaica can go so much further with persons just contributing their time in different areas.

“So, the aim of the programme is to entrench the spirit of volunteerism and giving back. Every single citizen has something to give back or contribute; it may be time, or a skill just to ensure that the country is better. At the end of the day, what we really want to ensure is that Jamaicans participate in volunteerism and see their way through the programme to contribute to a better Jamaica,” Ms. Rhoden says.

Volunteers have, so far, given of their service in a number of initiatives, such as the CARIFTA Games.

“Our volunteers participated to make sure that was a successful event, through hospitality and through a more technical area, where they help with timekeeping of the meet. We have done night runs and different activities that corporate Jamaica has, [and] we have done advocacy,” Ms. Rhoden informs.

The volunteers also participated in the national dengue clean-up, which was held January 24, 25 and 26.

The Senior Director tells JIS News that persons are able to choose the area of service in which they want to participate.

Areas of service include environmental and administrative, service to the homeless and seniors, education service and advocacy campaign.

“So, when you sign up to be a part of the programme, if there is a specific area you would like to contribute your time or your resources, you could choose that. But we have several activities, so if it is that you are good with matters of the environment [then choose that],” Ms. Rhoden says.

“Volunteerism takes several forms, and if there is an area that a particular person is more interested in they can also share that… and specify the times you are available and the area you would rather volunteer in,” she adds.

Ms. Rhoden also informs that individuals in the programme receive customer service training, which will enable them to deal with different costumers.

“If it is sports-based and it’s a technical area, such as timekeeping, we will do that type of training as well,” she notes.

Meanwhile, Ms. Rhoden says the agency is always looking for more persons to sign up and become a part of the programme.

She says the agency tries to recruit persons for the programme from “everywhere” from age 17 years and up.

Speaking on the benefits of volunteerism, Ms. Rhoden tells JIS News that this can provide for opportunities of networking.

“Quite a number of young people who have volunteered in the programme met their next employer and their next business partner. Even though we have a mentorship programme, there is some avenue for mentorship through volunteerism as well. You get to contribute to your country and you learn new skills that can become certifiable,” she says.

“Employers now are not only looking for qualification… but what differentiates you from [that] someone else, and volunteerism has been what employers are now looking for to see how you contribute and how you value your time,” she adds.

Persons interested in being a part of the programme may do so by contacting the HEART/NSTA Trust at volunteers@heart-nta.org or via telephone at (876) 929-3410 or (876) 754-9816-8.

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