Neville Charlton: A life of volunteerism
"Good habits formed at youth make all the difference," is what epitomises 24-year-old Neville Charlton.
"My life of volunteerism began at the tender age of eight. Inspired by my aunt, I joined a local Path Finder church group and continued to be involved in volunteerism throughout high school, college and even now in my work space," the outspoken young man told The Gleaner.
A resident of Silverstone, Portmore, St Catherine, he is currently the youth director and president of the Silverstone Youth Club, the 'Respect Jamaica' brand ambassador for 2015 and the founder and director of Positive Organisation (Youths Inspiring Positive Change Jamaica Limited).
"Volunteering gives me a feeling of empowerment. Knowing I am able to help someone that is less fortunate, someone who is just seeking a helping hand, my hand is available," said Charlton.
He highlighted a social intervention drive staged in the Tivoli Gardens community in west Kingston earlier this year as his most memorable project.
In combination with Respect Jamaica and members of his Positive Organisation, he ventured into the western Kingston stronghold to support the youth club, offer mentorship and to build self-esteem in youngsters.
"The residents were very friendly and we saw a huge turnout each night from the members. We also executed a Tivoli Gardens Youth Club excursion project, where we took the members out of their environs to visit historical sites such as King's House, the Office of the Prime Minister and Bank of Jamaica Money Museum."
Shikara Dockery, president of the Tivoli Gardens Youth Club, expressed sentiments of gratitude towards Charlton, while stating that he came on board at a time when she was giving up on the club.
She told The Gleaner: "He gave me a lot of motivation when I needed it most. He's hyped up about young people, positive changes and geared towards nation building."
The University of Technology communications major took up reins as public relations and engagement assistant at Digicel Foundation in November 2016. Three years prior, he occupied a sales representative position at FLOW.
In spite of his occupational demands, Charlton is quick to point out that his dedication to the cause has never wavered.
"When you have passion for a cause, you always find time. The trick of volunteerism is getting others involved. Then it's like a chain reaction. Even when I am not there, my presence is felt through my team."
Krystal Tomlinson, public relations and engagement manager at Digicel Foundation, lauded Charlton as an extremely passionate and hands on team player.
"Neville is just a breath of fresh air. He gets in every morning energised, willing and full of ideas."
He cited starting his own movement and encouraging one of his members to do likewise as the most gratifying feeling he's experienced in volunteerism to date.
Eighteen-year-old sixth-form student Tanisea Campbell, who became acquainted with Charlton via social media last year, was so moved she began her own youth movement.
A resident of the Retirement community in Montego Bay, St James, she founded the Retirement Youth for Change (RYC) group. The aim of RYC is to get youth within Retirement to work in a unified way by undertaking community service and enhancing socialisation.
"He's the embodiment of persistence. I was involved in youth activities, but he gave me the push I needed to really start the movement in my community."
Charlton was the recipient of the Young Leader Award at the recent Council of Voluntary Social Services National Volunteer Awards.
Charlton's youth influence, message of positivity and spirit of giving borders on infectious.
To put it into perspective, his 16-year tenure in volunteerism and a repertoire of leadership traits is not a mark frequently shared for a child of the 1990s.
When asked from what source is his motivation derived, Charlton told The Gleaner: "My aunt is involved in volunteerism. She's my motivation to give back. I am not from the richest background. I know the struggles that the common man faces and I know how it feels. She has empowered and encouraged me all throughout my life. She has also taught me the importance of how to be humble, as we never know the situation that others are experiencing."