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Shawn Desrivieres: “Believe in yourself and eliminate the word “never””

I would like our world leaders to recognize how much of a positive impact less pollution had on our plants and animals throughout Covid-19. Leaders ought to get together and put plans in place to sustain a continuous and positive impact on nature. I know that certain European countries have started to capitalize on the […]

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I would like our world leaders to recognize how much of a positive impact less pollution had on our plants and animals throughout Covid-19. Leaders ought to get together and put plans in place to sustain a continuous and positive impact on nature. I know that certain European countries have started to capitalize on the positives that came from lockdown including the reduced pollution levels — they are putting measures in place to sustain this, such as planting more gardens and offering more bicycles around cities.


As part of my series about people who stepped up to make a difference during the COVID19 Pandemic I had the pleasure of interviewing Shawn Desrivieres.

Shawn is Director of Food and Beverage at Windjammer Landing, St Lucia. Throughout Covid-19, Windjammer Landing has been contributing perishable food items for the St. Lucia Police Officers as they worked around the clock during the 24hr lockdown and also to NEMO (National Emergency Management Organization) as they struggled to deliver food items to the less fortunate when people were unable to leave their homes. The Windjammer Landing Villa Resort team has also been involved in preparing meals so that underprivileged St. Lucians could enjoy a hot lunch. The food was provided by local farmers, prepared by the resort team, and then picked up by more volunteers so that the meals would be distributed to the needy on the island. Many resorts/organizations on the island contributed to this program and the goal was 3000 meals which were achieved. These contributions to feeding many people on the island are ongoing throughout the COVID 19 pandemic as companies come together to help the local communities. The Windjammer team is working closely with the Saint Lucia Hospitality & Tourism Association (SLHTA) over the coming weeks as there will be an opportunity for the Windjammer Landing team to volunteer again once a week.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit about how and where you grew up?

I am Barbadian by birth and spent most to all of my childhood along with schooling there, my father is also Barbadian but grandparents are Irish and my mother is Saint Lucian. In the 1900’s Barbados prided itself as being the largest sugar supplier from the Caribbean until the introduction of the tourism sector in the late 1900s when the focus shifted because of the higher demand for foreign exchange. Barbados pioneered tourism in the Caribbean and became the main hub which connected the region to Europe, hospitality is the largest employer on the island and one I became interested in at a young age. I started as a bar waiter and worked my way up to become to a Manager at the renowned five-star property Sandy Lane in Barbados, form there I moved to Providenciales as a Director then to Canouan in the Grenadines and now with Windjammer Landing in Saint Lucia as Director of F&B.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much? There isn’t one particular book but I do enjoy reading biographies of influential people that have made positive impacts in society. I really enjoy reading about people’s failures and how they inspired them to never give up — eventually leading to success. I follow the careers of Elon Musk, Barack Obama, Jack Welch, Warren Buffet, and Dermot Desmond.

Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?

Believe in yourself and eliminate the word “never”. This is a personal quote of mine as I learned that I always proved myself wrong when I thought I could not do something. I have therefore decided to adopt this quote and apply it to all aspects of my life.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. You are currently leading a social impact organization that has stepped up during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Can you tell us a bit about what you and your organization are trying to address?

Throughout the pandemic and lockdown, a lot of people did not have access to food, a very basic human right. A lot of people rely on farming their land, fishing or going to the market to generate income and in some cases, people were relying on relatives to send them money through the Western Union. 
Windjammer Landing instantly started working with other hotels, the St Lucia Police and National Emergency Management Organization to deliver food supplies to people in need and unable to leave their homes. We cooked and arranged deliveries to individual houses, along with weekly food hampers. Throughout April and May, we have provided, with other hotel partners, 20,500 cooked meals to vulnerable people.

In your opinion, what does it mean to be a hero?

A hero is someone who is willing to challenge the status quo for what is right and put people’s needs before their own — this is done selflessly, without the need for recognition.

If heroism is rooted in doing something difficult, scary, or even self-sacrificing, what do you think drives some people — ordinary people — to become heroes?

In my opinion, I think it often comes from the need to protect a friend or family member.

What was the specific catalyst for you or your organization to take heroic action? At what point did you personally decide that heroic action needed to be taken?

Windjammer Landing has been participating in independent clothing and feeding the less fortunate yearly in December. Some of our colleagues grew up in similar underprivileged households and they inspired us to step up at this time and help those who needed it most.

Who are your heroes, or who do you see as heroes today?

A few of my heroes are Dermot Desmond, Alfred Taylor, and Michael Palij.

Let’s talk a bit about what is happening in the world today. What specifically frightened or frightens you most about the pandemic?

I think for me the most terrifying part of what’s happening now is not having a cure or vaccine, fear of the possibility of losing my daughter, family, close friends or work colleagues and not being able to resume my passion for hospitality in the near future.

Despite that, what gives you hope for the future? Can you explain why?

The human race always endures, we have some of the most brilliant minds working towards a cure or vaccination and I have trust in them. When we set out to achieve a common goal, it never fails. In the same way, Elon Musk achieved landing unmanned reusable rockets back on earth, we will find a vaccination for this virus.

What has inspired you the most about the behavior of people during the pandemic, and what behaviors do you find most disappointing?

The most inspiring behavior is the culture of family, the way that everyone can come together and ensure that their neighbor is safe and provided for. Seeing people selfishly not follow the government advice has been incredibly disappointing — it has affected the safety of our population.

Has this crisis caused you to reassess your view of the world or of society? We would love to hear what you mean.

Indeed, how nature has flourished with such a drastic reduction in air, water, and land pollution.

What permanent societal changes would you like to see come out of this crisis?

I would like our world leaders to recognize how much of a positive impact less pollution had on our plants and animals throughout Covid-19. Leaders ought to get together and put plans in place to sustain a continuous and positive impact on nature. I know that certain European countries have started to capitalize on the positives that came from lockdown including the reduced pollution levels — they are putting measures in place to sustain this, such as planting more gardens and offering more bicycles around cities.

If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?

I would share the evidence and statistics of what less pollution has done for our environment over the past three months throughout COVID-19. I would also offer a voluntary program where young people can join us in our action to feed and clothe the underprivileged of our country so they can witness first hand what it means to be someone or an organization that people can depend on.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

The two things that stand out to me are hospitality education and a special needs facility for medical care and education.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Arne M. Sorenson, CEO of Marriott International. Arne looks over the largest hotel company in the world with a value close to 30B dollars, it would be very interesting to speak and learn about the failures and successes of his career, what has led him to where he is in and his future endeavors or dreams.

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

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