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Volunteer profile

Sister Cherrylyn Glynn For nearly three decades, Sister Glynn has been providing essential services to the youth of Bequia By Glen Herbert “I love my work because I get to meet people directly,” says Sister Cherrylyn Glynn. “It’s one-to-one. I do counselling, I get to meet the families.” For the bulk of her career Glynn’s been in the role of nurse practitioner, working out of the hospital in Port Elizabeth. Her office there is organized, clean, if a bit spartan. The one photo on the wall, wedged behind the electrical intake, shows her when she was a nursing student. “That’s when I was in the clinic as a staff nurse,” she says when I point it out. “I had a breast-feeding support group for the mothers. We used to go all over St. Vincent, our group. We went to all the clinics to show them what we do and how they can initiate their own groups.” Glynn first arrived on Bequia in 1990 and has provided a broad range of care ever since. Today, when she’s not called by her nickname, Cheps, she’s known as Sister Glynn. “It’s the rank of our nursing profession. I don’t know why the ‘sister,’” she says, aware that some might think it means that she’s a nun. “We have males but they are referred to as charge nurses, not brothers. But once you reach the level of ward manager, then you earn the handle of ‘sister,’” something she’s rightly proud of. Glynn was educated on St. Vincent, and she has developed in her profession and educated others ever since, including as a preceptor at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. In her current role she runs health clinics as well as the school health program, an aspect of her work that she particularly enjoys. “I love to see that parents adhere to my dietary instructions, my dental instructions, and so forth. And that by the time I see the children again in Grade 6, I can see real improvement.” Children have a complete health assessment when they enter primary school, and then again when they are preparing to move to secondary school. In some cases she’s seen the children of those she first saw when they entered school. Having an effect In her work and her demeanour, Glynn is an example that the most important aspect of health care isn’t the stuff or the buildings, as important as those things are. It’s the relationships and the expression of care—the knowledge that you have someone by your side who knows you and recognizes what you’re going through—that can form the most abiding, and often most effective, aspect of primary medical practice. In the course of her career Glynn has done conceivably tens of thousands of in-office exams. She’s also advocated outside of that, oftentimes in ways that many don’t see, or don’t feel directly. “I pick up conditions that would have gone unnoticed, things that would have been missed,” she says, “I like to see that they’ve gotten the necessary referrals and help that they need,” especially in cases of cardiac pathology, which present with some regularity. But it’s the small stuff, too. “A few years ago, when I see children and I ask ‘do you eat your vegetables?’ they say ‘no.’ But now I’m hearing children say ‘I love tomatoes, I love cabbage,’ so I know that it’s” having an effect. Volunteering with the Bequia Mission “I was intrigued by what they were doing, and because of that I volunteered,” Glynn says of her first involvement with the Bequia Mission. At first, she packed food hampers and helped ensure that those who could benefit from them received them. For the past decade, she’s worked closely with Linda Harrier, providing lists of supplies needed on island, from an EKG to cotton balls. “I like the stickers. You know, when the children come in and you give them at sticker, they feel so good. And I give a pencil to the kindergarten kids … ” Her voice trails off, though the smile remains. She doesn’t say it, and perhaps would demure, but the stickers and the pencils are emblematic of the care that she offers to the children of the island, the personal interaction and the relationship that builds from it. It’s an interesting thought experiment to wonder about the net effect that Glynn has had on the health of the island population. True, she’s not working alone, something that she’d hasten to point out. But for so much of the program of care during her career, she’s been the front line. She manages her clinics and is the go-to person round the clock. When I toured the hospital with her, she was on a day off, but was stopped regularly by the nurses for advice on how to handle this and that, or what she felt about a patient’s progress. You’d think that kind of constant attention might wear thin, though Glynn smiles through it all, and clearly enjoys and appreciates the role that she fills. She admits that it feels good to be needed, and to know that her work helps others. For three decades she’s been a quiet example of the impact one person can have, while also providing an example to others, especially young girls, of what they can do, too.

Why we love the Junior Sailing Academy Bequia, and why you should too

Junior Sailing Academy Bequia From soup to nuts, the Junior Sailing Academy Bequia (JSAB) is a prime example of what people can do when they pool their talents and resources, producing something that is truly greater than the sum of its parts. Through structured education and training, the JSAB aims to promote sailing skills and career development for youth on Bequia. Shore-based instruction is provided by the Academy’s Training Manager. On-water practical instruction and formal assessment is provided by Sail Grenadines, a Royal Yachting Association (RYA) accredited training and charter company. Grenadines Sails provides sail repair service free of cost Why we love it In all of that—training, resources, support, admin—the program relies on local expertise and entrepreneurship, providing meaningful employment and authentic engagement. The effects are many: It provides a positive point of contact, one that engages youth within a group of peers around some targeted short-term goals and long-term aspirations. It prepares youth for further education and employment in a key local industry. It prepares them to become trainers and mentors to others, so the model is sustainable over time. It’s visible. The JSAB puts up to 15 boats in the water every Saturday, supported by two safety boats manned by paid local coaches. The sails can be seen from points around Admiralty Bay, which not only looks beautiful, but also draws the attention of local youth. There is no cost to participants, ensuring access to all who can benefit. What next? For the 2019-20 period the JSAB is working to build on the success of the 2018 season by providing courses for up to 10 students in two cohorts at the Competent Crew and Day Skipper levels. All going well, a second Competent Crew course will be offered in the fall of 2019. Math and English (written and spoken) are components of RYA certification, as are CV and job application writing. The JSAB intends to mount a series of courses taught by qualified instructors to help participants meet and exceed the required academic standards. These will make use of the Learning Centre, making it an even richer hub for education and development. What we can do In all of that, the JSAB program is a fantastic opportunity to help deliver employment and education to the island community in an efficient and sustainable way. The model is proven and successful, and the room for growth is evident. Financial support is required in order to further scale the program size and scope, though there's clearly a lot of bang for the buck. For donation, volunteer, and participation details, email me glenherbert@sympatico.ca or visit the GI website. Tax receipts for Canadian and US donors are available on request.

Off to school

by Glen Herbert Lauriel Stowe wants to be a volcanologist. “We had a geography class," she says, recalling some years ago, "and [the teacher] was talking about plate tectonics, and I really found the topic interesting.” She did some of her own research and, among other things, learned that there is only one working volcanologist in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. “I was thinking about what would happen if this person was to get old and can’t do the work anymore? And I thought that's what I’d like to do.” The volcanologist monitors La Soufrière, an active volcano that is also the highest point on St. Vincent. It dominates much of the skyline. The history of its eruptions is as good an example of the value of volcanology as you could hope to find: in 1902 it erupted killing 1680 people. When it erupted in 1979 there were no casualties, thanks entirely to the advanced warning offered by those tasked with monitoring it. Lauriel's desire to learn about her world, to ask questions, and to think locally with a mind to ongoing service is why she was such a good candidate for the scholarship program. In addition to ferry costs, the scholarships provide school uniforms, shoes and books, lunches, and ground transportation on the mainland. Little things, perhaps, though they make a world of difference in the lives of the students. The scholarships remove the barriers between them and their academic aspirations. While there are two secondary schools on Bequia, there are more course options and more academic resources in schools on St. Vincent. For some students those options—including physics, chemistry, and better-equipped biology labs—are essential to successful applications to post-secondary programs. Such is the case for Lauriel, who attends St. Joseph Convent, known as one of the best schools in the country. “It’s a good school,” she says. Each day she meets the ferry in Port Elizabeth. The hour-long passage takes her past schools of dolphin, terns, and, at certain times of year, schools of flying fish. “This one time we saw a whale, and it was really up close,” she says. I ask if we’ll see flying fish. “We’d have to be really lucky. I don’t know if it’s because of climate change, but we rarely see them anymore.” (We were lucky that day, actually, seeing schools of fish taking flight in the wake around the boat to flee the birds diving from above.) As the boat lists, I ask if this is a rough day. “It’s not that rough because you can still walk around pretty easily.” When it’s rough, you can’t. St. Joseph is in Kingstown, the nation’s capital. As such, Lauriel's journey each day takes her seemingly the entire length and breadth of the country. While Bequia can feel at a remove, once in Kingstown she walks past all of the key institutions in the nation, including parliament, the prime minister’s office, the national banks, the supreme court, even a sizeable prison, its perimeter girded with concertina wire. The city has a population more than three times that of Bequia and is home to the largest customs port in the country, its main commercial centre. There’s a lot of bustle, and the colonial history is evident, too, in historic stone buildings blackening beneath a patina of lichen. (Also nearby is the botanical garden. Founded in the 18th century, it includes a breadfruit tree that is a direct descendant of the one William Bligh planted there in 1793.) She typically doesn't get back to Bequia until 7pm, so it makes for a long day. Still, Lauriel knows that it's the right thing for her, and is thankful for the opportunity. Recipients of the scholarships give back by providing academic support to students of the Learning Center. As such, the scholarships have a significant and lasting effect on the development of educational opportunities on the island through improving delivery of the curriculum, encouraging mentorship, and promoting the value of academic achievement. Lauriel, nearly 50 other students, and the culture as a whole all benefit from the program. “It helps everyone to bring out themselves,” she says of the school she attends and, by inference, the scholarship that helps get her there. "It’s important.” She's right. It is.

Volunteer profile

Carmette Gooding By Glen Herbert “We call it the Big Rock,” says Carmette Gooding, “but it’s the only rock.” She recalls jumping off of it into the surf when she was growing up on Bequia. “We’d wait for the biggest wave to come, then we’d jump in it. When the wave was breaking. We loved that, I loved that as a kid!” I say that it sounds like a fun place to grow up. “Fun place?! Not in my day. It was hard work!” She remembers walking across the island to get milk for the family. “I used to go there every morning before school to get a bottle of milk. I would get up so early, it was dark you could barely see through the bushes. I had to go through all those gullies, and up the hill and down, before you go to school. To get the milk for our breakfast. That was the only milk we had then. We didn’t have any can milk or powder milk, or all of this kind of stuff. We had to go for it every morning.” I ask if she ever felt like saying, forget this, get your own milk. “Forget?! You forget and your mom and dad knock your head off!” She bursts into a laugh, then adds “You couldn’t say no in those days.” Still, it does sound like fun, and in truth she admits that much of it really was. She recalls making banana and fish dumplings, and long days at the sea. “In those days you’d never even feel the sun, either. You’d be on the beach all day, all day sitting in that sun waiting til people finish the cooking, and then you go back in the sea again.” I spoke with Carmette in Solana’s, the shop in Port Elizabeth she runs with her daughter. Sitting there, it feels like being in the thick of things, and perhaps you are. Spend long enough and perhaps the whole island will drop in. “My mother’s the kind of person, everybody knows her,” says Solana. “Everybody feels comfortable coming in and telling her their problems. They know her and they can relate to her, and she will sit down and talk with them.” “She could get carried away sometimes,” says Solana. “If she could help everybody, she would. She doesn’t like to tell people ‘no.’ She likes working with people who are just as passionate as her about taking care of things that need to be taken care of.” She’s got lots of opinions, as well as a brilliant way of expressing them. When I once asked her about the value of volunteerism, she said “the more you pay, the less work you get.” There’s a lot of wisdom in that, borne of her decades of experience on various committees and initiatives. Apart from work in the shop, Carmette is the FedEx agent for the island, and sells real estate. Since the 1990s she’s been treasurer for the Bequia Mission, a role she continues today with the Grenadines Initiative. It’s been years of raffles, and repairing homes, delivering food and supplies, selling books at the book sales beneath the almond tree. “I always enjoy meeting people,” she says. “And why not? I love doing that kind of work.” I ask if she’s game to oversee the book sale tables on Hero’s Day again this year. “Why not?! Of course.” And she means it. She’ll be there.

Life at the Learning Center

By Tylisha Miller In 2012 Ray and Dawn Goodwin had a vision for the children of Bequia. That vision was to give the children a place to come to where they can receive hands-on help with school work in an environment where they don't feel pressured but instead feel safe, loved, and cared for. I heard of this initiative and was intrigued with the approach and concept of The Learning Center. It was something uniquely beneficial to the children and Bequia needed it! In 2012 I joined the team at The Learning Center and instantly felt at home; never had anything felt so right. The atmosphere was amazing; the children were great to work with. For me it was not employment, it was my new found family, my home. The children loved the environment created by the staff. It was fun and exciting, so exciting they forgot they were even learning in the process. On evenings the children would sprint down the street like people running towards a giveaway, big smiles and eager eyes awaiting their hour and a half of fun learning. The children would bring their books from school and their homework so they could get help on topics they weren't familiar with and get assistance with their homework. The focus subjects at The Learning Center are reading and mathematics which branches off into creative writing, spelling and reading comprehension. In the local schools oftentimes children are cramped into large classes, forgotten and neglected, unable to get the one-on-one attention they so desperately need. This causes them to fall back in class and they are hindered in reaching their full educational potential. At The Learning Center, classes are purposely kept small and intimate to better facilitate real learning for each student. Consistently we see children come to The Learning Center and in a few months go up in their class standing; many of our students go on to gain the top five status in their classes and maintain it. The program has direct, positive results for the children and parents are pleased to see them excel. There is no greater feeling than watching children come to you needing help and being able to give them the help they are seeking. Watching them grow before your eyes! Children that sat on your lap and told you all about their day now drop by wearing their high school uniform, older, wiser but never forgetting the help they received from The Learning Center, the place they grew up in, their safe haven. Tylisha Miller is the director of academics at The Learning Center.

Gabby’s story

Cooking in Canada by Glen Herbert Gabby Ollivierre's first real experience of snow came with a freak storm that hit Calgary on October 2. It was notable by anyone’s standards–the storm made national news in Canada–though especially for someone from the islands who had yet to get a proper pair of boots. When I met her at the campus of the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) two days prior, she was wearing flip flips. Why? “I just didn’t feel like wearing shoes,” she said. Fair enough. Gabby grew up on the island, just as island kids do. It’s home, and when she completes her two-year degree in Calgary, she’ll go back, taking with her everything she’s learned. For the most part, that will be what she’s learned about cooking. This year–thanks to a foundation in partnership with the Grenadines Initiative–she enrolled in a professional cooking program, one that, in many ways, is one of a kind. I met with Richard Horbachewski, director of development for the college, in the Highwood, a full-service restaurant staffed entirely by students of program. “You’re sitting in a classroom,” he said. It’s one of four spaces–two on campus and two downtown–that many people visit without ever knowing that they’re in a teaching facility. The downtown culinary arts campus is housed within Calgary’s signature shopping mall, The Core, where students prepare and sell pastries, lunches, and prepared meals. And added last year, at the corner of 7th and 4th, is the Tastemarket, an urban eatery for downtown foodies which doubles as an innovative learning environment for budding entrepreneurs. All the spaces--the main and satellite facilities--are alike in that they don’t divide cooking from the business of cooking: nothing is made that isn’t intended for presentation and sale within one of these professional spaces. It’s a unique environment, and one that Gabby is quickly integrating into. Though she’s only been in the program for a few weeks, when she walks me through the kitchens she interacts amiably with students and teachers, all wearing chefs hats and crisp white jackets. There’s a lovely collegiality, to be sure, but the program is all business. Gabby shows me her marks so far, all of which are delivered to her via an app on her phone. She’s been marked on everything from food prep, to making a hollandaise sauce, to knife skills. “I don’t like that one,” she says skipping past a mark for a pop quiz. The rest, though, are all As. She’s proud, and she should be. Considered the best in Canada, the Professional Cooking program at SAIT is delivered by chefs who provide expert, hands-on training. In the next two years Gabby will train and interact with dozens of leading culinary professionals and hundreds of like-minded peers. It’s an amazing experience for anyone passionate about the culinary arts. “I don’t mean to brag, but, really, we are in the top 40 programs in the world,” says Horbachewski, “that said, we’re planning to be in the top 10 within the next decade.” Given the program development, and the creation of the new spaces, and the development of the faculty, they’re clearly very firmly on that path. For Gabby, it’s a step along the way, taking something she loves, cooking, into a professional role through which she’ll share that love. In time, all going well, she’ll be working in a kitchen of her own one day, on Bequia. She’ll be serving great food, of course, but as the chefs she’s learning from tell her, it’s about more than that. It’s about sharing an experience. So, she’ll share her experiences, too. They'll include those of moving to Canada for a time, working with others from around the world, and learning from some of the best. In there, too, will be the experience of a snowstorm, the one in early October not long after she arrived, the one that convinced her to get out, sooner rather than later, to buy some boots.

The We Inspire ~ Think Differently Youth Seminar

Leading by example by Rekha Gooding The We Inspire ~ Think Differently Youth Seminar was held on September 30th at the Spring House Hotel. Despite many other events which happened on Bequia that day, we had a great turnout and it was very well received.

Chromebooks to SDA Primary

Laptops for learning by Glen Herbert Felicia Frederick approached us with a proposal around augmenting the literacy resources at SDA Primary. After some discussion with her of the various options, we decided to get a few Chromebooks, which are laptops that are designed for in-class use. They’re used extensively in Ontario schools, including the one that my sons attend.

SVG scholarship established at Ontario’s Canadore College

Great things happen here An annual scholarship to benefit SVG applicants at Canadore College, a community college in North Bay, Ontario. The focus of the college is on focus is on student success, program and service excellence, connection to community, sustainability and innovation.

Kadeen’s story

Believing that you can is the first step   Listen to the MUSTN’TS, child, Listen to the DON’TS Listen to the SHOULDN’TS The IMPOSSIBLES, the WONT’S Listen to the NEVER HAVES Then listen close to me— Anything can happen, child, ANYTHING can be