“Using what is right with Jamaica to fix what is wrong with Jamaica,” is the message received by all who encounter 40-year-old volunteer extraordinaire Alethia Peart.
Peart is the 2016 recipient of the ‘Marion Ballysingh Award’ for Outstanding Volunteerism, presented during the recent Council of Voluntary Social Services National Volunteer Awards.
She is a director of the St Elizabeth Health Foundation, the former chair of the St Elizabeth Salvation Army Advisory Board, first vice-president and past public relations officer of the St Elizabeth chapter of the Lay Magistrates Association of Jamaica, and a justice of the peace.
“I began volunteerism at age 17 when I became president of my youth fellowship at church,” she told The Gleaner.
“My first act of volunteerism was a project I arranged for the Mandeville Infirmary. I collected clothing, food items, and got a group together to treat the residents. We combed their hair, fed, and entertained them with songs and poems. When I saw the joy and appreciation that was expressed, I knew immediately that I was destined to touch lives in a meaningful way. It felt rewarding.”
A business relationship and sales manager at Jamaica National (JN), Peart cites the leadership qualities developed at JN as aiding greatly in answering the many calls to serve.
EFFECTIVE TIME MANAGEMENT
“I have a full seven-day-per-week calendar. Where activities must be done on a workday, I make up time, sometimes working late into the night. There are many days when there are numerous activities, especially on the weekend. However, I try to create a balance and make what I do fun so it doesn’t become burdensome. The key to balancing is practising effective time management.”
In her over two decades in volunteerism, aiding a family of seven by establishing what she calls a ‘Send a Child to School’ programme ranks as her most significant act.
“It started with one family with an unemployed father who planted cash crops to support his wife who had a brain tumour and to take care of their five children. The children alternated days to go to school and none of them attended on Fridays. I raised funds to ensure that all of them went to school five days per week.”
Head of the Language Arts Department at Roger Clarke High School (then Balaclava High) in St Elizabeth, Rose-Marie Lewis-Morgan described Peart as a versatile motivator always willing to go the extra mile.
“She loves volunteer work. She’s willing to assist with whatever, talks at church and with the youth, she goes the distance in almost every endeavour,” said Lewis-Morgan.
“She provided leadership training for the prefect body at Balaclava and did a fantastic job. She also aided us with funding for students who were doing well.”
As mother of a 15-year-old daughter, Peart’s own mother serves as inspiration for her volunteerism. She acknowledges her parent’s ability to detect people in need while cherishing the reciprocated support she provides.
Membership Chairman for St Elizabeth Red Cross Valrie Sleugh-Forsythe said Peart’s voluntary services appear endless.