Carolette Virgo leads by example
At a time when it seems volunteerism is becoming a dying art in Jamaica, one person who could be described as the perfect advert for its revitalisation is Carolette Virgo, a resident of Granville in St James, who has taken service to community to new level.
While Virgo is a nurse by training and has extensive experience in areas such as customer service, farming and horticulture, the area in which the 41-year-old mother of one, really unleashes her passion and zeal is in her dedication to serve her community, voluntarily.
"This is where I was born and I have a deep love for this community. I am committed to doing all I can for its upliftment. I want the residents of Granville to feel proud of the place we call home," said Virgo, whose affiliations with organisations such as the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) and the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), places her in a position to develop and promote community projects. "A lot of the time the money comes out of my own pocket, but that is OK."
Among the projects Virgo has spearheaded is the revitalisation of farming at the Granville All Age School, the painting of classrooms, and the landscaping of sections of the compound. She is currently working on erecting a sidewalk near the entrance to the school. However, lack of funding has stalled that project.
"This is my old school and by doing these projects, my hope is that we will be able to inspire the current students to take pride in their surroundings," said Virgo. "We want to be positive role models for the next generation."
On a wider basis, she has been instrumental in mobilising community members to undertake several projects, including drain-cleaning and beautification projects, spanning the neighbouring communities of Retirement and Pitfour.
"Because of the work I have been doing, I have managed to establish a business of my own in horticulture. Several householders and churches have employed my service in the area of beautification," said Virgo. "I now have a flourishing flower project as my revenue stream."
As one of the pioneers behind the successful Retirement Pepper Project, which created employment for many youngsters from that community, Virgo is highly revered by the youth population.
However, what many consider as Virgo's signature contribution to the community is the annual appreciation dinner and award ceremony for the police who work at the Granville Police Station.
"The police are providing a vital service to the community and this is really my way of showing the community's appreciation to them," said Virgo. "We also stage an annual Christmas treat for the children of the community...that is another project that is dear to my heart."