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Celebrating the joy volunteers spread

The Centre on Philanthropy honoured dozens of volunteers who have spread joy not only during the holiday season but all year round.The volunteers young and old from charities like Age Concern, Bermuda Cancer and Health, Big Brothers and Big Sisters and Greenrock were praised during this year’s Volunteer Recognition Reception.Saltus student Fabio Pacheco, 15, admitted to feeling “proud” he had achieved something good for the community.He said volunteering not only allowed him to give back to his school, but also take part in the Duke of Edinburgh scheme.The Bermuda SPCA volunteer admitted to doing everything from cleaning, taking out the trash, washing dishes and helping care for the cats for nearly three hours each week.His mother Maria Pacheco boasted about his achievement and said: “I have been so proud to have a son like this.“Everything he tries to do and gets involved with is amazing, I couldn’t ask for a better son.”Dozens of volunteers were honoured at the ceremony at ACE Limited last Monday.Brian Dupperault, the Centre’s board chairman, said he was pleased that despite the tough economic times and hardship people were still giving.Beverley Howell, a long-time volunteer for the Bermuda Girl Guide Association at the Salvation Army Citadel was one of the people praised for their service.After receiving her certificate, Ms Howell said: “I am very proud. I find that volunteering as a girl guide leader is extremely rewarding. I have been doing it for 35 years.“I enjoy seeing the young people grow up and because I have been mentoring for so long I have seen young girls turn into parents and even grandparents.“It’s great to mentor young ladies to be the future Christian leaders of our country because that is what it is all about,” she added.Volunteer Debbie Kay Martin, of the Kiwanis Club of Bermuda, said giving to others less fortunate was her passion and encouraged others to find it in their hearts to give.Meanwhile Winston Trott Jr who volunteers as a football coach for the PHC Foundation said: “I am grateful to be honoured.“I have been coaching for 20 years now and the fact that someone recognised it actually is great. I started coaching when I got injured and a senior coach made me go and teach the junior boys.“It feels good seeing the boys I teach go on to graduate from college and actually do positive things. There are dozens of young men, some are lawyers and executives now,” added Mr Trott, who dedicates five hours each week to the foundation.Michael Weeks, Minister without Portfolio, attended the ceremony and offered the volunteers some words of encouragement.He said: “Of all the joys of this, the holiday season, perhaps none is more satisfying than the joy of giving. But what is really special about this Annual Volunteer Recognition Reception is that the persons who are being recognised tonight do not wait until the holiday season to give.“They give their time and talents all year round in a multitude of ways and for that, we salute you. On behalf of the Government of Bermuda, I am indeed honoured by this opportunity to thank all of our volunteers who serve as the backbone of our society.“Your selflessness, your energy, your commitment to making Bermuda a better place, is very much appreciated. Those of you who are being honoured tonight, congratulations and each of you and your families should feel especially proud.“Volunteers are a priceless asset to this country and so the Government joins the Centre on Philanthropy in honouring you, supporting you and celebrating you,” added Mr Weeks.l There are many charities in need this holiday season; people are encouraged to visit www.volunteer.bm to find out about volunteering opportunities on the Island.