Raul Clemntino

Raul Clementino was also recognized for his work with Age Concern, during the Seniors Community Service Awards.

RAUL DECOUTO CLEMENTINO

For 12 years, Raul Clementino helped to put a smile on the faces of Bermuda’s senior citizens by driving the Project Action bus as a volunteer.

Many of the people he drove just liked to get in the bus and go for a ride. It gave them a break from the monotony of life at home.

“Every single one, when they saw the vehicle approaching they would get very excited,” recalled Raul.

He decided to volunteer with Project Action after he saw an advertisement for drivers in the newspaper. He had just retired from his own landscaping business and he was looking for something else to do.  The late Judith Stewart, co-founder of Project Action, was one of his former clients.

Raul thought it would be a nice job and went to see her about it. She happily agreed to take him on as a volunteer and he drove the bus twice a week for the next 12 years.

He was born in Lomba de Maia, St Miguel, Azores in 1940, the son of Jose and Maria DoRamos Clementino.

Growing up, he didn’t have many educational opportunities, and left school early. As a young man, he served in the Portuguese army in Portuguese Guinea from 1961 to 1964. He came to Bermuda in 1965 looking for a better life. He said it was not a matter of going home for half a day; you didn’t get a break from the horrors of war.

“We were blowing things up,” he said. “It was a very hard time. I was scared. I would go to bed to sleep and wake up suddenly to gunfire. I was very glad when it was over.”

When he finished in the army, things in the Azores were tough. Wages were very low and there were few opportunities for self-improvement. He decided to try his luck in Bermuda. His early years in Bermuda weren’t that easy, either, but they were still easier than those in the Azores. He earned more money in Bermuda than he had previously. He started his own landscaping business called M and C Landscaping and did very well for himself.

His wife, Connie, daughter of John and Maria DaCosta, also came to Bermuda in 1965. They had never met before coming to Bermuda, but they soon got to know one another. The Clementinos describe it as love at first sight.

“I put my eyebrows to work,” Raul said with a laugh, wiggling his eyebrows. He is known for his gentle sense of humour.

They were married on March 30, 1967 at St. Theresa’s Cathedral in Hamilton, two years after they came to Bermuda.

They went back to the Azores frequently to visit their parents after their children came along.

Raul doesn’t drive anymore, because he has suffered some health issues in recent years. He misses it. Today, he likes to do a bit of gardening. His family enjoys eating the vegetables he grows in small quantities such as lettuce and tomatoes.  He still cuts his own grass.

He and Connie have three grown children Bernadette, Robert, and Goretti, and four grandchildren.

“Work hard and live easy would be my philosophy,” he said. “You have to build it first before you can move in.”

Ernest “Shubby” DeGrilla

DEGRILLA.ERNESTErnest DeGrilla was one of the winner’s of this year’s 2014 Senior Citizen Community Service Awards given by the Department of Community and CUltural Affairs. This is the piece I wrote for the booklet they hand out at the luncheon which was held this year in October.

DEGRILLA ERNEST “SHUBY”.

Ernest “Shuby” DeGrilla, 74, started transporting seniors on the big red Project Action bus ten years ago after he retired from a job at IBC and UPS.

He loves meeting people, but sometimes finds it a little depressing to see people he knew from days gone by now with missing limbs. Many of the people he transports are dialysis patients.

“We save them a lot of money,” he said. “It is all free. If they had to catch a cab it would be about $120 a week. We go from one end of the Island to the other. Sometimes we can’t get up to Somerset or St George. We ask Red Cross drivers to step in and we try to get them back home afterward. He also transports Westmeath Rest Home residents. He said some of them just like to go for a ride. He also takes seniors to the Bermuda College for exercise classes and picks them up again.

“It is a busy bus,” he said. “We are grateful to Rubis for giving us free diesel.”

He said the challenge is sometimes getting down people’s narrow lanes and then battling traffic every morning.

He was born on the South Shore in Smith’s Parish where North Rock Restaurant is currently located. His parents were Arnold and Mary Moniz DeGrilla. He had a twin brother who died in infancy and four sisters. He went to school at Cavendish and left when he was 11 years old to work at Wadson’s Bicycle Shop.

They sold push bikes, radios and seeds, and later motorcycles.

He received the nickname “Shuby”, as a young child, after he took part in a singing competition during a production at the old Eagle’s Nest Hotel. Children were divided into teams. His team’s coach was Goose Gosling who gave him the nickname after the old song ‘shuby duby doo’. All the children in the team had a nickname.

He did a number of jobs over the years. He was a partner in the old Buckaroo Restaurant on Church Street. He drove a horse and carriage for the old Bermudiana Hotel transporting honeymooners. He worked on the American baselands running all their food concessions, which was a big job as there were 5,000 servicemen on the base at one time. There were cafeterias, civilian clubs, three lunch wagons and beach concessions to maintain. Eighty Bermudian women were employed to work there. After that he worked for Butterfield and Vallis for 26 years, Winter Cookson and then IBC.

“Then I retired and then jumped on the bus,” he said.

He has been married twice and has two sons, Stephen and William DeGrilla, and one grandson, Daniel, who is studying to be a doctor. Daniel lives abroad but often comes home for visits. While he is on the Island he helps his grandfather with the Project Action bus, among other things.

Shuby has a great love of animals. He has at one point had horses, show poodles, turtles and birds in his back yard on Euclid Avenue in Pembroke.