by Kimberley Cummins
Paige Bryan may be the new President of the Young Women Christian Association, but voluntarism is not new to her.
She was elected to the post on July 7 this year, but in an interview with Barbados TODAY she explained that even if she was not the president she would still be extremely committed to “the voice of the voiceless”.
“I am really looking forward to being able to help and be an advocate for women and children, in particular, to reach their full potential. I think it is a wonderful opportunity to give back to Barbados, not only to a select few but to the country as a whole because I really do love voluntarism — it is a passion of mine.
“The one thing that I am always very thankful to my country for is providing a free education for me and that alone says to me that I owe my country a debt of gratitude. I really feel we should be our brothers’ keepers, those who are a little more privileged than others should help the others who may be less fortunate,” she said.
Bryan’s first involvement as a volunteer was at the age of 16. She said years after, as a single parent she discontinued to make sure her sons were raised properly and attained the grounding needed in their development. Now at ages 21 and 24, both Jarrad and Jason are successful entrepreneurs, an achievement of which she said she was really proud.
Now that the boys are “grown”, the banker by professions said she saw it as her opportunity to delve back into voluntarism in a major way, a recommitment that started a little more than two years ago when she became a member of the YWCA.
As president, Bryan said she had many goals to achieve in her two year tenure. The first, she said, would be the start of a home-work club to add to the other programmes offered by the centre.
“We have about 20 children who come to the reading club on Saturday mornings and between them and the ones who come to the Breakfast Club we want to be able to assist them with their homework needs. We want to do that because we recognise that the key to a lot of things is education; you may not be academically minded but you must at least have the basics and then you could get a skill etc.
“We had a very vibrant president and we are very keen and enthused to build on what she did. So one of the things we want to do is work with women to help economically empower them. We know there are a lot of women who are unemployed or under employed so we want to launch some programmes in September which would enable them to learn a skill so they can use that skill to earn an income.
“We would have done that successfully in the past with the sewing project and a square foot gardening project and the Early Childhood Education course. So we will be reintroducing those courses and will also introduce Bajan Delicacies, to teach people how to make Barbadian food, and Authentic Indian cooking,” she said.
Another major objective for the president and her new board was to complete the new home for the YWCA. She said they had land in Barbarees Hill, St. Michael and they were at the stage of sending out proposals for “people to partner with us to erect that building”.
“We have all the governmental approvals so it is just a matter of starting and completing it and I really like to see that come to a fruition. It has been a long held dream of the members of the YWCA to own our own home because right now we don’t own it, we just use those premises,” she.
For the first time ever the YWCA of Barbados will be hosting a Young Women Conference in June 2013. An estimated 150 delegates from YWCAs in the British Virgin Islands, Canada, Haiti and the United States are scheduled to attend.
Executive board members are: Andrea C Taylor – First Vice President, Damara Smith – Second Vice President, Tamara Brathwaite – Treasurer, Cara Howard – Secretary, Cassandra Griffith – Assistant Secretary/Treasurer. The other board members are Danielle Bishop, Rhea Cheltenham, Tamita Griffith, Jacqueline Lynch, Nailah Michael, Elizabeth Millington and Bertha Pilgrim.