You vacation on the island on a regular base, or you visit us for the first time. You purchased your time share for many years, or you are in the process of buying. It does not matter, we know you have fallen or will fall in love with Aruba. Parallel with that love goes the love for the people, the connection with the resort staff, the excursion guide, and the housekeeper down to the taxi driver. Arubans love tourists and tourists love Arubans. Two gentlemen who can confirm this are the General Managers Luigi Heredia of Costa Linda Beach Resort, and Bob Curtis of Casa del Mar Beach Resort & Timeshare. They will tell you how you can connect even more with our locals by giving a helping hand!
In the lobby of the Costa Linda Beach Resort (and soon at The Casa del Mar) you will find a kiosk that is part of the recently launched Happy Community Initiative (HCI) which invites you to donate an amount from $5 on to help Aruba set up after school programs for the youth. The island has its tropical delight and bright side but faces some challenges in the social sector at the same time. On Aruba about 6 of 10 youngsters between the ages of 12 and 18 are home alone or without adult supervision after school time. In most cases, it is because their parents are working. In addition to this, many of Aruba’s youngsters do not travel (often) and experience boredom from a lack of activities during school vacations. Furthermore, 4 of 10 Aruban youngsters do not complete secondary school. This is a very big issue for Aruba’s future economy and the tourism industry. A recent study found; At least 60% of Aruba’s youth is asking for afterschool programs, aimed at sports, cooking, art programs and a safe place to hang out with friends.
Heredia is not only GM but also the President of Aruba’s Time Share Association (ATSA). “I always felt it is important to carry social responsibility, it gives life a deeper meaning. We from ATSA partner with the new Happy Community Initiative because we believe in it and wish to help wherever we can.” He continues explaining that the idea is to connect our visitors with local community in a constructive and long-term way. “Important is that visitors have an option whenever they feel they want to reach out. We do not impose anything, the kiosk is there for you only when you wish to use it.”
Casa del Mar has been looking for a way to give back to community for a while, says Curtis. “Being member of ATSA this initiative gives us the opportunity to do something on a bigger scale. We only have about 100 employees making it harder to create a big impact, but in addition this gives our members a chance to contribute. Some of our members are the oldest on the island, and they feel a strong connection with local community.” Members approach him many times with the desire to socially support the island, some already volunteer with street dog foundations or beach clean-ups. Youth being the focus group of this initiative is a great thing, according to Curtis. “I did not grow up in a household where I was home alone in the afternoon, but 60 % here is and those kids are at risk. They are not getting the support, leadership and guidance they need. Once you got on the wrong path it is all the harder to get back. I think it will help their grades to be part of after school programs and have some adult guidance and support.” HCI is planning to implement interaction between visitors and youth by offering volunteer encounters, a plan that Curtis applauds. “I would love to contribute in a physical way with my employees and members, which is a great way to connect and see the results for yourself.”
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The Happy Community Initiative is a visitor charity program that you can help strengthen Aruba’s community by donating to good causes. CEDE Aruba, a dynamic community foundation, the Aruba Timeshare Association (ATSA), the Aruba Tourism Authority and several companies collaborate in this platform for visitors who would like to make a donation, but also volunteer in the future. The priority is set to support projects for Aruban youths. CEDE Aruba will make sure that the donations reach meaningful projects of local non-profits, based upon quality and transparency of finances of the offered programs. In this manner, you can be assured that your donation will reach its goal! With your donation, you support Aruban children with after school programs, mentorship activities and social support. You can donate at the kiosks in the lobby of several hotels (Costa Linda, Playa Linda, Paradise Beach Villas and La Cabana) or you can donate on the website: https://happycommunityaruba.org/donate.
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