Mr. Chris Juredin is the BVI’s recipient of the CIBC FirstCaribbean Unsung Frontline Hero award initiative for his extraordinary service to the community during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic back in March of this year.
The programme, designed by CIBC FirstCaribbean through its ComTrust Foundation to highlight the work of persons across the region at the forefront of the COVID
-19 fight, has brought to the fore the stories of many of those whose deeds have gone virtually untold. Over 100 persons were nominated for awards in the 16 countries where the bank operates.
Mr. Juerdin’s name was submitted by Ms. Natasha Ruscheinski as a BVI nominee for the public campaign that the bank ran during the August / September period. The campaign, which was promoted via social and broadcast media including the ZBVI community bulletin board, sought to identify an individual who had gone above and beyond to serve the community and to publicly acknowledge and thank that person for the deeds that helped people pull through the initial desperate days when the pandemic was first announced. Public nominations were sought from the following categories of frontline workers: Medical personnel, The Protective Services and Community Heroes.
Ms. Ruscheinski, who runs PAW BVI, an animal non-profit in the BVI, documented Mr. Juredin’s acts. She explained that, in responding to her public plea on social media to consider buying extra dog/cat food for those who couldn’t afford to stock up for their pets, Mr. Juredin reacted swiftly by personally buying and delivering thousands of dollars’ worth of pet food, enabling PAW to do a big distribution prior to lockdown.
As the lockdown extended, Mr. Juredin reached out and asked if PAW needed more food. “By this stage, countless desperate pet owners had reached out to PAW to see if we had food for them, which we didn’t. Mr. Juredin stepped up yet again and purchased another huge amount of pet food and then helped distribute it door-to-door to those who were unable to afford to buy it themselves.”
“Although the food was for animals and not humans, so many families benefitted from it and were able to keep their pets fed during these difficult times, all thanks to Mr. Juredin. He purchased all the food himself and asked for nothing in return- when families did make donations, he gave it straight to PAW BVI for their vet bill,” said Ms. Ruscheinski.
Mr. Juredin was one of seven people nominated by the public and one of three semi-finalists submitted by the committee panel comprising external and internal judges for further voting by the public to help determine the ultimate Unsung Frontline Hero. The other two semi-finalists were Mr. Trevon Penn for his commitment to the public’s health and safety in his role in the Protective Services and Nurse Yahmega John for her dedication and exceptional care in the Medical Personnel category.
At a presentation in the banking hall after hours on Thursday, October 29, Mrs. Vernecia.Holder, Head of International Corporate Banking, awarded Mr. Juredin with a gift of a $2,000 e-cheque to be spent on a staycation of his choice and thanked him for his service. “Mr. Juredin – BVI’s CIBC FirstCaribbean Unsung Frontline Hero – on behalf of the bank and the Unsung Frontline Heroes committee, thank you for going above and beyond during those tumultuous and disruptive and disrupted times and for your selfless support of those in need and despair,” said Mrs. Holder.
Mr. Juredin, in accepting the award had wanted to offer the staycation up for auction to further benefit PAWS BVI but subsequently learned that the award is non-transferrable due to its intended purpose of acknowledging the unsung heroes of our communities for their deserving activity which went “above and beyond” and was done selflessly, at personal expense and risk and without expectation of acknowledgement or reward.
Chief Executive Officer and Chair of the FirstCaribbean International Comtrust Foundation, Colette Delaney, noted that the COVID
-19 pandemic has led, in many ways, to the re-emergence of the spirit of unity and caring that is an endearing feature of Caribbean people. “We are grateful for the contributions of these modern-day heroes, but we know that there are many more who may not have not been singled out but are just as important as they go about working quietly to create the pathways towards health and safety once again for all of us. We remain forever grateful to our first responders and community heroes for being sources of inspiration and for the good that they do that has made all the difference.”
Mrs. Holder thanked committee members, Mrs. Jean Vanterpool, Dr. Richard Georges and bank officers Mrs. Lena Stoutt-Frett and Ms. Sophia Hamilton for their assistance and the public for their participation in nominating and voting for their Unsung Frontline Hero.
The Unsung Frontline Heroes campaign was launched to identify those unsung frontline heroes who “had shone brightest in the darkest moments of the Covid
-19 crisis”. The public was invited via social media platforms to submit their nominees during the month of August with the public online voting period ending on September 26. The finalists were selected based on meeting a set of judging criteria and the total number of public votes received.
CIBC FirstCaribbean has previously highlighted many hidden community treasures who have made a difference in the lives of persons they have helped or touched in some way through its flagship Unsung Heroes programme, which concluded in 2013.