National Volunteer Day, Aruba Doet, started on Friday at Marie Stella, an old folks facility in Savaneta in the presence of the island’s Governor.
It was the first time the Governor spoke in an unofficial capacity. I liked what he said in the small press conference set up to launch the activities:”Don’t just volunteer because you have too much time on your hand, volunteer because your heart is in the right place and you want to help your neighbor and your community. Make volunteerism a part of your life.”
Then he rolled up his sleeves and went to work at a project in San Nicholas with his aids, but before he left he tapped on my shoulder to say goodbye, I was on the phone at the time, and I almost dropped it in surprise.
We’re blessed to have an exceptional human-being as our Governor.
I also noticed the good people of Office Systems NV painting the rooms of the ailing elderly with bright colors, just before we hit the road to visit all projects and take pictures. You guessed I was the volunteer photographer.
I traveled by car with director CEDE Aruba Daniel Tecklenborg and the project coordinator Thixanne, their phones were ringing continuously with what Thixanne calls “Situations, “the inherent challenges in organizing 200 projects with thousands of people on just one day. The rest of the day Daniel played his music, a mix of European Rock N Roll and Country, with optimistic and inspirational lyrics, all his original compositions.
We visited a pre-kindergarten in San Nicholas that asked for a shady roof to be built over its sand box. The kids were so cute and so well cared for. Materials were late to arrive, but the work will be done on Saturday.
Baby Beach boasted a tent with more than a dozen Ritz Carlton Ladies and Gentlemen who organized a beach outing, dominoes in the shade, breakfast and lunch for a group of 60 plusers.
FADA in the heart of town invited the street people for a sumptuous meal cooked by the culinary students of the vocational school and served by its hospitality students.
The neglected baseball field named after Xander Bogaerts, wished for some shade over the public tribunes so parent of the 80 kids training at the location, may come and watch the games. The project was just getting started when we arrived. It was a good start.
At one of the schools where the art room was being organized and cleaned I found Penny & Mark Garlock from Michigan who read about Aruba Doet in a magazine last year and planned their vacation around it. We caught them sponging the walls at Graf Von Zinzendorf after cleaning Turtle Beach in the morning. They are also scheduled to work on Saturday as volunteers with Aruba Doet and are staying at the Beach House in Malmok. Wow. I was speechless and appreciative.
ARUBA DOET 2017 On Friday, 10th and Saturday, 11th of March 2017 was organized by CEDE Aruba, in cooperation with the Oranje Fonds, for the fifth year in a row. This was an opportunity for social organizations to get jobs or social activities for their target groups done with the helping hands of volunteers. Jobs such as painting a wall or refresh a playground, organizing an outing for elderly people, making a new fence at a social club, etc. If you would like to give a helping hand during a half day or full day at a foundation, school, sporting club, elderly home or other social organization, then join ARUBA DOET and be part of the biggest volunteer initiative of Aruba, in collaboration with the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and the other Dutch islands.
Incidentally, they started in 2013 with 87 projects and they are at 200 now, with more than 3,500 volunteers.