Minister of Health, Donville Inniss (centre) and wife Gail present the Minister’s Award to Trevor Griffith.????

Over 50 volunteers of the National HIV/AIDS Hotline and the Food Bank, were commended for giving "selflessly of their time" to these two facilities and implementing projects that included "The Love Campaign" and "The Garden Project.

In his address at the15th Annual HIV/AIDS Volunteers’ Awards Ceremony, at the Accra Beach Resort, Rockley, Christ Church, Minister of Health, Donville Inniss, told the several volunteers that they could be considered "one of an agency’s greatest resources".

He said: "They may participate at a wide variety of levels, such as, cooks, receptionists, counsellors, phlebotomists, hotline or helpline operators or food pantry assistants. Each one offers a unique set of skills, experience and expertise to his or her chosen organisation.

"The gift of time, talent and energy given by volunteers is often critical in the ability of the organisation to meet its needs. Institutions which utilise volunteers should be accountable for discovering, developing and honouring these gifts so that they may be kept engaged and stimulated."

Mr. Inniss also noted that the establishment of a solid, long-term relationship between volunteers and organisations was encouraged by quick and meaningful placement, along with appropriate training programmes. He stressed: "training of volunteers is essential to an organisation meeting its strategic, tactical and operational goals."

While urging Heads of departments to get to know their volunteers "well enough to place them appropriately", he maintained: "Relationships between staff and volunteers should be built on mutual trust and respect and volunteers should be acknowledged for their invaluable contribution to an organisation’s success."

The ceremony also coincided with the day (December 5), designated by the United Nations as International Volunteer Day. The occasion was used to thank volunteers for their efforts and to increase public awareness of volunteers’ contribution to society. The Health Minister remarked, "We recognise that your contribution cannot be valued in money, but in worth."??

And he promised to expand the ceremony next year to award all volunteers who make a meaningful contribution to the cause, including those at the community level.

Five special awards were presented, among the several given on the night. A new award – The Minister’s Award – was won by Trevor Griffith for his display of pride and dignity as a representative of the Ministry of Health’s HIV/AIDS Programme. It was presented by the Minister’s wife, Gail Inniss.

Ms. Catherine Gonsalves won the Sister Olive Trotman (Diamond Award) sponsored by the Barbados Public Workers Cooperative Credit Union Ltd. (BPWCCUL) and presented by Vice President of the BPWCU, Mrs. Flo Jean-Marie.

Other special awardees included: Miss Barbados/World, Leah Marville; Humanitarian Award, Rico Layne; Hotline Volunteer of the Year and Mr. Cheston Barker, HIV/AIDS Food Bank Volunteer of the Year.

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