Mark Barnett looking to make a difference
There are many reasons why, beyond the simple goodness of their hearts, people volunteer. Oftentimes, it is a combination of factors that motivates a person to begin and continue volunteering.
Looking to make a real, lasting, and rewarding difference in his community, Mark Barnett is approaching his new role as president of the Rotary Club of Downtown Kingston with the tenacity and expertise required to inspire and change the world around him.
A Rotarian since 2011, Barnett believes volunteering allows you to choose where and how to make a difference. It is easy, he said, to get inspired with a cause you truly care about, and it is even more rewarding to see your direct impact.
First introduced into the world of Rotary in 2010 by his former colleague, Barnett participated in a group study exchange through the Rotary Foundation. “Guy McCallum, the regional area manager, encouraged me to participate in the vocational training programme. We visited District 70610 in Virginia and travelled to various water-treatment facilities. It was an eye-opener for me and I gained valuable insight into the United States’ wastewater system,” Barnett said.
Barnett, at the time an engineer with extensive experience, managing both technical and commercial operations for water and water services at the National Water Commission (NWC), said that following the trip, there were no mandatory requirements or demands for him to join the club.
“It took me a year and a half to become integrated and involved in Rotary. I researched and got a better insight into the organisation, and then I scouted around for a club which would fit into my routine at the time,” he said.
Following confirmation of his membership, Barnett served in various capacities, including treasurer, vice-president, and president-elect. However, his ascendency to the role of president was delayed by three years because of work commitments.
Barnett has served as president of NWC since 2015, following which he acted in the capacity for two earlier periods. Prior to his confirmation as president, he served in the capacity of vice-president for wastewater operations, overseeing the maintenance and operations of 70 different wastewater systems islandwide.
Targets for his tenure
With 41 members in the club, Barnett has set specific targets for his tenure that began on July 1. In addition to an ongoing scholarship programme, he said that they will continue to support the Denham Town Golden Age Home, and they will also be executing a membership drive.
“We want to build a sustainable scholarship fund. Things have changed in terms of costs, and while we usually give about 10 scholarships, it is minimal. Our focus is to change the value of the disbursements so that we can actively support the educational process of needy students,” Barnett said.
In the initial stages, fundraising activities, he said, will include whiskey tasting, Jazz in the Garden, an art auction, and a wine and cheese affair.
The mission of Rotary International is to provide service to others, promote integrity, and advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace through its fellowship of business, professional, and community leaders.
Barnett, who holds a master of science degree in waste and water engineering from Loughborough University in the United Kingdom, a bachelor of science degree in chemical and process engineering from the University of the West Indies and a diploma in chemical technology from the then College of Arts, Science and Technology (now University of Technology, Jamaica), among his educational qualifications, is committed to serving others and uses his wide experience and expertise to positively impact various areas.
“One of our objectives is to also call on businesses downtown to help us unearth those individuals who need help. Some of these persons just need a little help to succeed, and by assisting them and highlighting their abilities, we are not just helping an individual, but the family on a whole,” Barnett said.