This year’s San Pedro Person of the Year almost flew below the radar because her genuine giving soul seeks no recognition. In fact, she pretty much shies away from it any attention. We know Brittney is a model islander who works hard for her community and is always giving of herself for the betterment of others, but it was not until receiving countless nominations from friends that we realized how much she actually does. There was no other person as deserving of this recognition for 2015. Ambergris Today is humbled and honored to present this year’s Person of the Year award to Brittney O’Daniel.
Brittney is a community activist, to say the least, who does more for her adopted home than many local island residents. She hails from Dallas, Texas, USA, but arrived on Ambergris Caye in October 2012 when she took over Playa Chel and converted it to Sandbar Restaurant and Bar. In 2014 Brittney remodeled and launched Sandbar as a hostel, still retaining the restaurant and bar. Her business is a favorite local hangout, but also fills a much-needed niche by catering to backpack travelers to Belize.
Brittney's friends gathered at Sandbar to surprise her and celebrate her recognition
Busy as she may be with her restaurant and hostel, Brittney goes above and beyond to give back to the island community. She has opened her heart to the people of San Pedro, Ambergris Caye and not only joining various charitable organizations but also starting a few of her own. Britney is a member of the San Pedro Lions Club, the San Pedro AIDS Commission and the Belize Red Cross. You can guarantee that if the AIDS Commissions is having an event, or dancing in a parade, Brittney will be there. She will dance in the street comparsas during three days of Carnaval to raise funds for the AIDS Commission, she will help the Red Cross on their blood drives.She developed the San Pedro Food Bank and later teamed up with the Lions Club and Raise Me Up to feed the less-fortunate families on the island on a weekly basis. Brittney also donates time and resources to Saga Humane Society which helps the island four-legged friends and other wild life.
During November in San Pedro, a few years ago Brittney started an annual tradition at her establishment to host a Thanksgiving Potluck. She realized that a lot of expats and her friends who live on the island do not have family living with them. The dinner brings together people who cannot be with family during that special time of the year to feel like a family member amongst other loving islanders. This past year it hosted well over 100 people, probably close to 200 residents, who came together for a great time. This year in October, she also organized a Halloween fundraiser for the Ambergris Caye Elementary School with a haunted house at Aqua Vista with Dee Regis and Wayo Vasquez, it was a hit on the island for the children.
When she heard about the cancellation of the Holiday Lighted Boat Parade this year Brittney and a few friends immediately stepped up to keep this tradition alive. Having only two weeks to organize the event, they came together and pulled of a festive and grand event that is anticipated by both locals and tourists on the island. Needless to say, the event was one of the biggest with hundreds lining the beaches to witness all the holiday cheer. This she accomplished while continuing with the Food Bank, operating her business and working on her last project of the year, the Adopt-a-Bear Program.
Almost 180 children who would have not seen many gifts, if any, this past Christmas received a gift to truly understand what the spirit of giving at Christmas is all about. Brittney spearheaded the Beary Merry Christmas (Adopt-A-Bear) program which made her the true Santa Claus for Ambergris Caye. She collected over $27,000 in presents by asking residents to “Adopt a Bear” and give a gift(s) on a child’s Christmas wish list. It was a huge success and scheduled for next year already.
Brittney O'Daniel and volunteers gift giving at Adopt a Bear Program
Brittney O'Daniel sorting gifts for Adopt a Bear Program
Humble as she is, Brittney does not like to boast about her charity work and always credits her business partner David Jenkins, her staff and volunteers who are behind her, always rendering assistance. The list truly goes on and on, Brittney gives and assists various other charities and individuals around the island, she even teaches at Holy Cross every week in a literacy program.
With her big bright eyes, contagious smile, loving personality and huge warm heart, Brittney O’Daniel has made herself a true resident of San Pedro. Her selfless action are inspiring and worthy of mention and praise. Ambergris Today and San Pedro thank you Brittney for humbly giving of your time, energy and means to this community. Our best wishes for the New Year as we know you will keep up with your philanthropic endeavors.
Ambergris Today would like to thank all Brittney’s friends and everyone in the community who helped the team surprise her today. The food bank for keeping her busy while we prepared to greet her, David Jenkins, Joe Chung and the Staff at Sand Bar for getting everyone together and decorating the space, Bruce and Jane West for bringing treats and everyone who joined us.
Also, thanks to the following businesses for sponsoring this award. Jodie and Scott form Palapa Bar for their gift certificate. Costa Blu Dive and Beach Resort for two nights stay for two, Blu Restaurant for two meals for two during her stay at Costa Blu, Escape Day spa for a 60 minute signature massage and chocolate facial, Ocean Essence Day Spa for a 60 minute massage, Rum And Bean for their gift certificate, Belizean Melody for free painting session, Wild Mangos for dinner for two gift certificate, and Victoria House for a dinner for two. Thank you all for helping us make sure that Brittney gets pampered for all her great deeds.
Below are comments taken from the nomination forms that were submitted for Brittney. Please add to these by commenting below and share with us another reason why Brittney is so deserving of this recognition.
- “As bad as I feel for not being able to recognize more people for this award, once I reflected on what Brittney has done over the course of this last year, it definitely cannot be matched.”
- “This woman is insane. She is my hero. She does so much for the local community here and is involved in so many charities. I have completely lost count and overview. Her passion for giving and helping is so inspiring. Not only has she helped Saga so much, she helps me personally to help Saga, too.”
- “Brittney is involved in even more organizations that I don't know about, but I am
constantly impressed with her level of commitment to this community.”
- “She makes our island a better place to live!”
- “She always goes the extra mile to ensure that every needy person in this community is reached in so many ways. If there's ever a crisis or tragedy she's the first to step up to assist in any way she can. She has the biggest heart of anyone I know.”
- “We are so blessed to have her a part of this community.”
- “Brittney O'Daniel is a Spirited Angel living amount us on Ambergris Caye.”
- “Her huge heart has made a difference in the lives of many. She is an awesome, giving, easy to work with person and she deserves it.”
Brittney O'Daniel with her business partner David Jenkins
Brittney O'Daniel supporting the AIDS Commision World AIDS Day Walk
Brittney O'Daniel helps AIDS Commission with fundraising efforts during San Pedro Carnival
Brittney volunteering her time at Saga Humane Society fundraiser