An initiative by the Chubb Charitable Foundation last summer to benefit cash-strapped Bermudian students and non-profits on the island adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic is to be supported for a second year.
The “Community Service Values Summer Programme” provided summer jobs for 35 students who were paid by Chubb to work 20 hours a week at a non-profit organisation.
The six-week programme assisted students, whose summer job prospects and education funding were impacted by the pandemic, while helping 21 non-profits with operational support and resources.
The foundation partnered with the Ministry of Education, Bermuda College, Knowledge Quest and the Bermuda Business Development Agency to identify Bermudian college students entering their sophomore, junior or senior year who were in need of summer employment to continue their studies in the fall.
Rakaya Simmons, 22, assisted The Coalition for the Protection of Children before completing a Bachelor of Laws programme at the University of Buckingham in the United Kingdom.
Ms Simmons said she researched the organisation, adding that “what stood out with the Coalition was their commitment to help the community”.
She assisted with administrative work on projects that required additional support as well as taking on other duties during her tenure at the non-profit.
Ms Simmons became SCARS-certified while at the Coalition.
She also met with Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education, and the ministry’s education officer for counselling, LeeAnn Simmons, to explore whether Erin’s Law – or something similar – could be introduced in Bermuda’s public school system.
The initiative, championed by childhood sexual abuse survivor Erin Merryn, calls for legislation requiring all public schools in the United States to implement a prevention-oriented child sexual abuse programme.
Ms Simmons said she also passed along other ideas to the ministry to “bridge the gaps” by recommending “things they are not doing”.
She added: “They said they would look into it. Hopefully, they will implement them.”
Of her experience at the Coalition, Ms Simmons said: “It was very eye-opening. I enjoyed it a lot, and I learned things I probably would not have learned elsewhere at another non-profit.”
Rachel Dill, director of client services for the Coalition, said: “She was a real go-getter; she wanted to see how helpful she could be, to be a part of the team. She showed initiative, was forward-thinking, and was interested in – and cares about – challenges in the community.”
Colleen English De Grilla, executive director of PALS Cancer Care in Bermuda, said programme participant Karina Forth helped the charity to modernise.
Ms Forth, 20, set up Instagram accounts for PALS and the organisation’s thrift shop, set up a Twitter account for the charity, connected the organisation’s Facebook and Instagram pages to increase the visibility of posts, updated PALS’ database to improve its fundraising and communication capabilities, and used Instagram to introduce PALS nurses and the organisation’s services to its followers.
Ms English De Grilla said: “She brought us into the 21st century. She helped the thrift shop target more of her age group, created more awareness in the younger sector.
“She was just so good. For such a young woman, she was so professional. She was always on time, always dressed, came and did work all day, she was dedicated. She will be an asset to anyone who gets her when she finishes school.”
Ms Forth, who is working towards an Honours Business Administration degree at Ivey Business School at Western University in London, Ontario, had no previous experience with social media in a professional setting.
She said: “But I’m young so I have experience on my own social media. I know what’s attractive, and what engages people on social media, so it was a matter of translating my personal social media to an organisation that is a charity.”
Ms Forth said the experience allowed her to “see a different side, the non-profit side, and the need they have, and how they depend on donations, how they depend on volunteers, and how they depend on community support. Being able to provide that was really rewarding.”
Judy Gonsalves, division president of Chubb Bermuda and a board member of the company’s charitable foundation led by Lori Dunstan, said Chubb was unable to support its large summer employment programme last year due to the circumstances around Covid-19.
A brainstorming session produced the idea for the alternative initiative, and Ms Gonsalves said the resulting programme was “absolutely fantastic”.
She said non-profit organisations were universally positive about students’ commitment, flexibility, and eagerness, as well as their technology skills.
Ms Gonsalves added that feedback from the students was “phenomenal”, saying: “What so many learned was the size and scope of the non-profit world in Bermuda.”
Some may have even discovered a potential career path, Ms Gonsalves said.
She added: “It was a fantastic programme. We loved it, so much so that we are doing it again this year.”
The organisations that will be benefiting from the programme this year are Age Concern, Bermuda Diabetes Association, Bermuda Netball Association, Bermuda Sloop Foundation, Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences, Citizens Uprooting Racism in Bermuda, Eliza DoLittle Society, Lady Cubitt Compassionate Association, Masterworks, PALS, Kaleidoscope Arts Foundation, The Family Centre, Tomorrow’s Voices, Windreach, IAC for Children and Families, and Habitat for Humanity.
The students participating in the programme are Dain Richardson, Kelazia Burchall-Busby, Amber Furtado, Breuna Smith, Iziah Tucker, Maya Leighton, Messiah Greaves, Anastasia Azzario, Cairi Albuoy, Daniel Simmons, Aliyah Every, Kenyari Ingham, Waunita Christopher, Tarryn Steede, Nina Pickering, Jalaya Cheeseman, and Sakena Francis.
The initiative is to commence today.