Congratulations to all the YLAI Network members who made a lasting contribution to their communities through their #YLAIEmpowers Communities Action Week events. Your efforts and leadership demonstrate the positive difference we can all make to our neighbors, families, local businesses and economies through community action!
Here is what two of our YLAI Network members accomplished during 2017 #YLAIEmpowers Communities Action Week, July 17–24.
Shallona Shallowe from Trinidad and Tobago
Dragon boat racing, or “dragon boating,” is a popular sport in Trinidad and Tobago. Twenty paddlers, a drummer and a “sweep” (the one who steers the boat with a sweep oar rigged at the rear of the boat) make up the crew for a dragon boat competition.
YLAI Network member Shallona Shallowe designed and facilitated a Mentorship Program for Volunteer Sweepers for her #YLAIEmpowers Communities action event. She worked with the North Eastern Dragon Boaters Association, a nonprofit organization that seeks to empower youth in marginalized communities through sport leadership activities.
Shallona recruited three mentors to train 11 young volunteer sweepers every Sunday morning for eight weeks in the rural Salybia community in northeast Trinidad. Shallona says that “parents view the program as an opportunity to spend more time with their kids,” so they also indicated interest in volunteering.
“The program created an avenue to increase my confidence in community work and engaging volunteers to make a positive contribution in the community,” says Shallona.
Her advice to other YLAI members?
“Do not wait till you have large numbers to begin an activity in your community. Start with what you have, even if it is just one or two persons. You will be amazed how much of an impact one or two persons can have on a community.”
Eva Herbert from Venezuela
Eva organized a #BeautyMakeup Masterclass for seemingly “forgotten” elderly women who live in Clínica de Reposo Las Villas, an assisted living residence in her community. While preparing for #YLAIEmpowers Communities Action Week, Eva discovered that “here in Venezuela, everybody is focused on causes for children, street people and animals,” rather than the elderly — especially women.
So Eva decided to organize an event to bring love, affection and attention to the women of Clínica de Reposo Las Villas and “show them how important they are.” On July 24, Eva brought eight volunteers to apply beauty creams and makeup to the “grandmas,” while Eva, a psychologist, “gave motivational messages to these beautiful women, one by one … to show them how important they are to us, and to feel beautiful no matter what.”
The residents devoured the attention they received. Eva said the women “joked about going out to party or getting a boyfriend. That was really beautiful.”
Eva said the event motivated others in her community to reach out to the elderly too. “I’ve received emails, messages, and people are offering themselves to participate or collaborate” in future community projects to attend to the elderly, says Eva.
Her advice to other YLAI members?
“I recommend you to do it with all your heart and enjoy it from the beginning to the end — and smile, always smile. You don’t know who you might make feel better with a smile. What I can assure you is that because of your actions, your community will be better,” shares Eva.