Jessica Xavier Photo by Dwayne Hackett
W hen Jessica Xavier embarked on a singing career a few years back, one of her first gigs was a Rotary club Christmas concert. She recorded a hit song and appeared on magazine covers and on TV, but then she gave it all up.
“I realized that singing isn’t my passion,” she says. “Working with kids has always been my dream.”
Xavier recently spent a month volunteering in the village of Yupukari, where a nonprofit called Rupununi Learners has set up schools, a cultural center, and a research station devoted to the endangered black caiman, a relative of the alligator. Xavier taught classes, helped write grant proposals, and worked in the library.
Back in Guyana’s capital, Georgetown, she runs her own marketing company. Her club is filled with young Rotarians, she says, “and we’re one of the most active in terms of outreach.”
The club holds an annual career fair for teenagers and organizes two-week medical missions to indigenous communities to screen for diseases such as HIV, cervical cancer, and diabetes. So, even though she still gets stopped on the street and occasionally hears her voice on the radio, Xavier is focusing on others. “Volunteering is an amazing thing,” she says. “It’s nice to know I can do more than just work for myself.”