Innovating, Inspiring, Impacting
My name is Natalia Crooks, a volunteer at the Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS) Foundation Volunteering Program: Act!on Jamaica. On May 23, Labour Day, I woke up bright and early, ready and pumped up for the Danny William’s School for the Deaf Labour Day project. We gathered at the JNBS branch located in Half Way Tree where I met up with familiar faces I had been introduced to at the Act!on Jamaica orientation programme the previous week.
We arrived at the school safely, where we were warmly welcomed by Anna-Kim Robinson, Project Coordinator of the ACT!ON Jamaica Programme. She briefly explained the aim for the day: to make a positive impact on the school, which would mostly involve improving the facility for the children.
The volunteers quickly snatched up the paintbrushes and rollers, just to ensure they are readily equipped to work. But Anna-Kim had a surprise for us! We would be split up in three teams, according to the message that was on our shirts: Team Impact, Team Inspire and Team Innovate. Luckily I was a part of the Team Impact, which was fitting since I came to make an impact on this school. After being split into our teams, the principal taught us basic sign language so that we would be better able to communicate with students from the school.
Then we were off to work.
As expected Team Impact was the first to get started, then the other teams not long after. What I had noticed right off the bat with my team was that we built a rapport with each other, and depended on teamwork. We painted the block that we were assigned, working diligently together. I took up the task of painting the ceiling, along with three other teammates. Everyone could tell that was our task because of the paint splatters on our faces. We were half done with our block by the time they called for and served us breakfast.
We sat together as a team, chatted and enjoyed the delicious food. With our stomachs full, we regained energy to get back to work. I found my comfort zone with Team Impact, and we had so much fun working, getting our hands dirty and clothes painted. The thing that motivated us to work was the music playing. As we worked we sang along to Oldies, and my favourite, Soca. However Team Impact faced a minor challenge. The wall we painted, needed to be repainted, but I didn’t worry because this was just a small obstacle for our team, though teams Inspiration and Innovate had a good laugh at this.
The day was very productive as all the teams finished each block and were doing final touch ups in the afternoon. The JNBS Foundation photographer, Paul Brady Mullings, also known as ‘The Paparazzi’, took memorable, breathtaking photos of the day’s events. When we were done they provided us with lunch. Volunteers from all three teams sat in one room, ate, mingled and chat. A few of us decided to play a game of Dominoes. Of course, I, being the greatest Domino player that ever lived, won. I won once out of seven rounds. Not bad.
We ended the day on a good note, and took a group picture. We took one last look at the Danny William’s School for the Deaf, and saw that our hard work had paid off. We left the school feeling accomplished and grateful for such an experience and opportunity.