Minister of Culture, Stephen Lashley congratulating (from left) St. John Attendant 2011 Andre Burgess, while??the Most Outstanding Parish Ambassadors for 2011, Shane Gibbons and Charlene Estwick, look on. (C. Pitt/BGIS)??

Barbadians have been called upon to fully embrace the spirit of volunteerism and give back to those communities that have assisted in equipping them for life.

While delivering the feature address at the Community Independence 2011 Annual Awards Ceremony last Saturday at the Barbados Museum, Minister of Culture, Stephen Lashley, said community service has always been a force for unification and growth throughout the centuries.

Mr. Lashley stressed that community involvement allowed for the development of strong friendships and empowerment of self and the community.?? "… I am sure that the Parish Independence Committees are ready and willing to welcome old and new

volunteers and to explore both time-tested and new ways of serving. In the process, you will continue the upward path to your own growth and development and that of your communities," he stated.

Emphasising the importance of the community independence programme, the Minister noted that young, talented persons had been discovered and the skills of little known designers had been unleashed. "Community skills for costume design are also on the increase. Gardening skills are being highlighted. The support of corporate Barbados has been galvanised and, for the most part, that commitment is unwavering. It is evident that the programme has been justifying both its existence and the confidence of the sponsors," he declared.

Mr. Lashley is hopeful that the 2012 programme would have an even greater impact on local communities and sponsors. He urged Barbadians to help their communities to stand out and get involved with the Parish Independence Committees (PICs).

"It is anticipated that there will be increasing success stories on inter-community and inter-parish relationships between the PICs, youth groups, community organisations, schools and small businesses; and that there will be greater buy-in from village shops, artisans, artists, designers and supporters," he surmised.

During the night, the St. John ambassadors walked away with a number of prizes, including Most Outstanding Parish Ambassadors, as well as Parish Project of the Year, while St. Lucy was named Committee of the Year.


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