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Gleaner Editors' Forum | Age is no barrier to volunteerism

Published:Sunday | October 14, 2018 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer
Whittaker: ...my age now at 60 is not telling me that I am supposed to sit down because, maybe if I sit down and don't continue to volunteer, maybe before you know it you hear that I'm sick.

In anticipation of his receipt of the Badge of Honour at today's National Honours and Awards Ceremony, Neville Whittaker, councillor for the Gordon Town division of the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation, is encouraging younger Jamaicans to get involved in volunteerism.

Whittaker told a recent Gleaner Editors' Forum that age should be no factor in matters of volunteerism.

In calling for greater encouragement of a culture of giving, and its ability to positively impact the Jamaican society, Whittaker expressed his belief that no Jamaican is too young or old to learn the principles of benevolence.

"Age is not a factor. As a matter of fact, my age now, at 60, is not telling me that I am supposed to sit down because maybe if I sit down and don't continue to volunteer, maybe before you know it, you hear that I'm sick," the long-serving teacher said.

Whittaker is calling for greater public acknowledgement of younger Jamaicans engaged in charitable endeavours. This, he thinks, could increase participation rates.

"I think if we recognise these (young) people when they come out to volunteer, I think that will help because when someone inside of their age group sees them being recognised, that might give them the impetus to say, 'You know, they recognised Colin, and all he does is go out and do volunteer work'. So that might encourage them to come out and do some volunteer work."

Whittaker, who is being recognised for his meritorious service to the City of Kingston, extolled the personal benefits he saw as inherent in giving back.

"Volunteerism is something that gives you a lot of comfort in the sense that after you have volunteered, sometimes what you do and the benefit that the person you do the things for, the benefit that they get from what you do for them in volunteering, when you see it, the happiness that it brings to some of these people encourages you to continue to want to do more," he said.

It is this pride in giving that Whittaker, a teacher for more than 35 years, says led him along the path to representative politics. Despite the time constraints present as a result of his two full-time roles, he credits a charitable spirit for his success in both fields.