JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Resident of Olympic Gardens, Deenie-Sa Bernard, is encouraging young people to embrace the spirit of volunteerism, by giving of their time to organizations and persons in need.
  • After Ms. Bernard’s required number of volunteer hours for high school was completed, she became the personal accountant for the, then, President of the Olympic Gardens Benevolent Society as a result of her knowledge of the field.
  • As a result of her passion for volunteerism and community involvement, the Olympic Gardens resident has accessed a scholarship that helped to pave the way for a brighter future.

Resident of Olympic Gardens, Deenie-Sa Bernard, is encouraging young people to embrace the spirit of volunteerism, by giving of their time to organizations and persons in need.

She notes that volunteerism may lead to the opening up of opportunities, while at the same time contributing to the development of the country.

Ms. Bernard states that her journey as a volunteer started at the Ardenne High School, where students were required to complete a specific number of hours for each academic year.

“I started doing my volunteer hours at a primary school and transitioned to the Olympic Gardens Civic Centre, because they had a programme for students doing the Grade Six Achievement Test,” she tells JIS News.

After Ms. Bernard’s required number of volunteer hours for high school was completed, she became the personal accountant for the, then, President of the Olympic Gardens Benevolent Society as a result of her knowledge of the field.

She later transitioned to the benevolent society where she served as Assistant Treasurer and Treasurer from 2012 to 2016.

“It has been a wonderful experience. I visited many meetings where I learnt different lessons, roles and responsibilities. It is because of volunteerism that I am so mature. It taught me how to interact with different people and to be responsible. I help out whenever I can at church and in the community,” she says.

“If we could just get back the spirit of volunteerism, Jamaica can become a better place because there are so many persons who need help,” she adds.

She tells JIS News that volunteerism can assist with the lack of work experience among the youth population, as it provides valuable lessons that can be transferred to any professional environment.

“During the period after high school and before college, I went for a job interview and was asked about work experience, I told the interviewer about my voluntary service and he hired me because he was impressed by all I done over the years as a volunteer,” she shares.

As a result of her passion for volunteerism and community involvement, the Olympic Gardens resident has accessed a scholarship that helped to pave the way for a brighter future.

Ms. Bernard learned of the Citizen Security and Justice Programme (CSJP) through a colleague at the benevolent society in her community.

“The Secretary of the club, at the time, asked me if I was going back to school and I said yes I want to go to Shortwood Teachers’ College. She told me to sign up for school and then apply for a CSJP scholarship,” she shares.

Unfortunately Ms. Bernard was not successful in her college application, but reapplied the following year and was accepted to study, but was not selected for a CSJP scholarship.

“I did not let it deter me from continuing the work in my benevolent society and volunteerism. I reapplied for the CSJP scholarship in my second year of college and was assisted. I can say with the help of God, CSJP and other persons I am a graduate because of their live, support and faith they had in me,” she says.

Dennie-Sa Bernard graduated from Shortwood Teacher’s College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Education with a specialization in Modern Languages (French and English).

“They saw something in me, sometimes I still wonder what it is, but they invested in the potential I had. I do not think I am different from anyone else because I had the same struggles, my parents do not have it to support me. If it was not for interventions like CSJP and persons who believed in me, probably I would not be a college graduate,” she says.

The Olympic Gardens resident will be going to France next week to start a new journey in the French Teaching Assistance Programme.

The community volunteer encourages other young people to pursue their goals regardless of the challenges.

“Whatever goal, mission or vision you have in life and you wish to accomplish it, get it done. There are persons out there who are willing to help you, but in order for them to help you must have the mindset to go forward. You cannot sit down and say I am from an inner city community so I am not going to move forward,” she says.

Ms. Bernard tells JIS News that her parents are proud and happy to know that she has “come this far by faith leaning on God, trusting in Him.”

Community Case Management Officer at the CSJP, Marcia Flynn, says she is overwhelmed with joy about Dennie-Sa’s achievement.

“I met her in 2014 and I just found out her age because her maturity is beyond 22 years old. I really like working with young people and I keep telling them that the potential that lies within them just needs unearthing. Today is a good day for the CSJP family,” she says.