by Latoya Burnham
It’s hard to miss the orange, and when Renesha Straughn and Nicholas Boyce let loose wide welcoming grins, the blinding picture of brilliance is complete.
The duo will serve as Parish Ambassadors for Christ Church for the next year, and they let you know right off the bat that they are equal to the task.
What’s interesting about the two, both 21 years old, is that before acquaintances and family suggested they could benefit from entering the programme, neither had considered it.
For Renesha, who has a three-year-old son she proudly mentions is the centre of her world, life was all about juggling work and caring for her little one.
Nicholas, on the other hand, was busy writing fantasy stories, learning Japanese, and thinking of new and cool things to do with his love of anim?.
Perhaps it was the newness of the programme and the fact that they were seeing it all for the first time, that led the two to “click immediately”.
“We found out that we actually had a lot in common,” Nicholas quipped, with a quick glance at Renesha, who sits beside him, who added, “We are a good combination.”
He figured the programme would be a formal affair, involving charity work, meeting people, while Renesha only knew about the Spirit of the Nation show, which is the crown of the programme each year. What the two did not expect to find was so many undiscovered areas of Christ Church that would increase their own love and pride of their parish.
The Community Independence Secretariat which hosts the programme each year, devised an overall theme for 2012, Craftsmen of Our Fate – Inspiring Pride and Unity, and it is a theme the southern couple have taken to heart.
With their own theme this year, Treasures of Christ Church – A Hero In You, it impressed both that in addition to discovering these “new treasures” they also found a number of jewels in the persons who have contributed to the development of the parish.
“Our project was already on its way from last year because we already had the Treasures of Christ Church lecture series, which was scheduled for this year. So when we heard the theme from the Secretariat, we were like wow,” Renesha explained, even as Nicholas rejoined, “So we were on the ball, right on target.”
The two explained they had spent weeks finding persons in the parish who had contributed significantly in sports, education, arts and culture, and numerous other areas, to highlight as the parish’s “treasures”.
“That process in itself was rather difficult. We formulated a plan where everyone would do research and we would try our best to find anyone that should be recognised and from everyone bringing together that data, we came up with a very formidable list of persons,” Nicholas said.
The two said apart from the demands the Ambassadors schedule placed on them, getting to know about these “heroes” in their parish, learning more about where they live was also a fun part of the experience.
Renesha added, “I have a son so sometimes it was very difficult to stick to the schedule, but it helped to build on managing time. It was frustrating at first, but it is a learning experience and helps you to cope under pressure.”
“Personally speaking I have been educated more about my parish and Barbados as a whole. In terms of what I have accomplished, like my partner I was rather shy at first, but it helps you to open up more. I would say I was very poor at speaking, but the lectures and such have helped me improve a lot,” said Nicholas.
For the two, what they want to come out of this experience is for Barbadians to know more about some of the “unspoilt treasures of the parish”, such as the history behind the only church in St. Lawrence Gap, the Newton Slave Burial Ground, even the success of PomMarine Hotel as a place for development of youth.
Renesha and Nicholas are now looking toward the November 17, Spirit of the Nation Show where they are hoping everything they have learnt over past months will see them acheive success for their parish, Christ Church.