The Junior Chambers International (JCI) Barbados could play its role in addressing the ongoing local unemployment issue.
In fact, JCI has the potential to empower young people across the island, teaching them hands on skills that they cannot learn at an institution.
Jennifer Gracey, 2014 vice-president of Junior Chamber International, currently visiting the island on official business, highlighted these capabilities to Barbados TODAY when she stopped in at its Warrens, St Michael office this morning, for a brief interview.
Gracey, an American-born, has been assigned to oversee seven national JCI chapters, the West Indies included.
She believes that Barbados’ chapter could examine the examples of others across the world, to assist governing bodies in finding solutions to the country’s unemployment issue.
“It is something that we see in other areas of the world and every local chapter kind of addresses it differently. JCI can empower young people and give them hands on skills which they cannot necessarily learn at a university.”
“We have seen some other chapters that have employment issues do things like career fairs where they bring potential employers together to host a career fair and sometimes prior to the career fair they would do a resume workshop on how to interview or how to put your best forward.
“These are some of the things that we can work with local partners, vocational colleges and employment agencies that are willing to partner with JCI in order to bring these services. JCI can be the main organizer of these types of events,” she said.
Gracey who has a strong passion for the work of the membership based profit organization, joined in 2003, in America and became the local president three years later. She became the state president in 2010 and the JCI USA national Vice-president in 2012.
At the international level, Gracey served as 2013 JCI executive assistant to the president for the America and has attended three JCI area conferences and six JCI world congresses. She has also been honoured as JCI senator.
The vice president who is in Barbados on her first official visit, travels to her assigned countries, meeting with members, inspiring, motivating and training them on the different aspects of JCI’s Active Citizen Framework. This is exactly what she will be doing on the island during her two day stay which started today. She is also here to launch the Ten Outstanding Young Persons (TOYP) Of The World Project which seeks to recognize individuals between the ages of 18 to 40 who excel in their chosen fields to create positive change.
The Active Citizen Framework, is a methodology used to ensure that JCI’s local chapters conducted sustainable projects and utilize partnerships and connections in local communities to ensure that a sustainable impact was made in society, through tackling important problems.
“This framework is being used by many different organizations around the world to create a positive impact. We have essentially just brought it to get together and we are asking our members in our local chapters on how to utilize it effectively.
“The Active Citizen Framework is a circle and you start with analyzing your community needs, finding sustainable solutions and partnering with other organizations to make sure that you have like minded goals and you all want to accomplish the same solution and then you operate the project and analyze how did it do. . .,” said the trained journalist and senior business consultant.
There are lots of different projects across the world that JCI participates in, she explained. She made specific reference to a project carried out by JCI Indonesia where unwanted babies who are dropped off at the airport will soon be placed in an orphanage by being build by the JCI community there.
“Every country we go into has different needs. Sometimes its feeding the poor or the hungry or getting people after they have lost their job.
“Every country is different. So in Barbados it could be unemployment, it could be the economy, it could be we need more entrepreneurs. It could be giving people the skills by being JCI members and sharing in some of the projects that we do in the community that build up their skill set,” Gracey said.
Adding: “I just got back from the Dominican Republic and we went into a very impoverished community and we worked with the local neighborhood association and the local school and brought in JCI members and a project engineer who is a master gardener. And the gardener actually taught the people in the community how to plant a garden, how to maintain it, how to harvest the seeds.
“The local JCI chapter gave the community the seeds, the plants, the dirt and everything they need in order to install the community garden so that they would have a little bit more sustainable food source within their community walls so that they don’t have to spend their hard earn money to go to the supermarket they can actually grow their food and they can share.”
Fully agreeing with Gracey, JCI Barbados 2014 president Abena Agard, also sitting in on the interview said that while the chapter has not recently been as prominent as it was historically, its members were currently trying to get it back at that point through addressing more community needs.
“We want to have that positive change and that positive impact. JCI is in Barbados to make a positive change and we do that through identification of key problems and finding the solutions to those problems.
“We believe that we can do all of this through constructing projects that directly deal with the problem that is identified and once we get it to the point where it is sustainable, we hand it over to somebody,” said Agard.
JCI has over 200,000 members in 5,000 communities in over 100 countries.