- There is no slowing down for the passionate and vivacious senior citizen, Beverly Edwards, who continues to play a vital role in national development.
- She has dedicated 40 years to the public sector beginning in 1970 at the Ministry of Local Government where she worked as a Registry Clerk for seven years.
- Mrs. Edwards was also an advocate in her own right. For over 25 years, she dedicated herself to the Jamaica Civil Service Association as departmental representative for the Ministry of Local Government, the NCSC, as well as the JIS.
There is no slowing down for the passionate and vivacious senior citizen, Beverly Edwards, who continues to play a vital role in national development.
Born in Westmoreland and raised in St. Mary with her grandparents, Mrs. Edwards learnt, from an early age, the importance of hard work and respect for others. These are traits which have allowed her to excel in adulthood.
“I learnt to do things on my own from an early age. I had to be very respectful to the people in my community. I could not pass adults on the road and not say hello to them because when I got home I would get a spanking,” she says.
She is described by those who know her best as organised, loving, and compassionate, but very stern. Mrs. Edwards attributes her caring demeanor to her grandmother, who, she says, instilled essential values.
“Sometimes I would get up in the mornings and not know where my grandmother had gone. She got up early, looked about breakfast, and then went out to look for those who were ill or she took breakfast to them; and I grew up just like that, having that caring attitude for people,” Mrs. Edwards recalls.
Her disciplined upbringing was further cemented when she moved to Kingston at the age of 12 to live with her father, who was a soldier. She says while living with him she learnt to be to very thorough, as he always ensured that she was always properly attired, even when she grew into adulthood.
First introduced to public speaking as a child, Mrs. Edwards says that was the catalyst for her active involvement in her community.
“I played an active role in my community, [because] from an early age I started to do public speaking, which I love so much, when they used to put me on a little box at church to recite poems,” she recalls.
She has dedicated 40 years to the public sector beginning in 1970 at the Ministry of Local Government where she worked as a Registry Clerk for seven years.
Mrs. Edwards was then transferred to the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) where she assumed the position of Chief Records Manager. Always the one to inject some fun into any activity, she founded a sports club, which she says was very active.
However, after five years with the JIS, she decided it was time to pursue other interests. She moved on to the Ministry of Labour and Social Security to take up the job of Investigations Officer and later became a social worker at the National Council for Senior Citizens (NCSC). Mrs. Edwards worked at the Council until her retirement in 2011.
She points out that working with senior citizens was very fulfilling. “Working with the seniors, you learn a lot from them; and so while working with them, I gained a lot of experiences. I also learnt to accept them.
Sometimes they seem miserable but …allow them to do what they feel like doing, and guide them,” she expresses.
Mrs. Edwards was also an advocate in her own right. For over 25 years, she dedicated herself to the Jamaica Civil Service Association as departmental representative for the Ministry of Local Government, the NCSC, as well as the JIS.
“I always like to speak out on the rights of my co-workers and always saying to them that…I will defend you when you are right [but] if you are wrong, it is not going to be me, because at all times we [must] aim to do the right thing,” she says.
Her hard work has not gone unnoticed. Mrs. Edwards has received numerous awards for her years of service to the NCSC, the Jamaica Civil Service Association, the Jamaica 4H Clubs, and her community.
She is also a 2010 National Honours and Awards recipient of the Badge of Honour for long and faithful service to the elderly and community.
Mrs. Edwards is also credited for being the brainchild of the much-anticipated ‘Seniors Spelling Bee Competition’, an annual fixture of the NCSC.
“I went to bed one night in 2003 and I said I need something exciting for the seniors to do in 2004; and it came to me that I should do a spelling bee competition and after [consultations with the seniors] they decided that they would like it. We started in Kingston and St. Andrew and then it became a national focus where all 14 parishes participate,” she recalls.
Today, the 63 year old enjoys benefits from some of the programmes she implemented at the Council while she was coordinator for Kingston and St. Andrew. On Monday and Thursday mornings she can be found at the Kingston and St. Andrew Parish Library receiving training in computer literacy. This is the very programme she instituted while she worked with the NCSC in St. Thomas.
Ingrid Hardy, the current NCSC coordinator for Kingston and St. Andrew says she easily took over the reins when Mrs. Edwards retired because of how organised the retiree kept her files.
Although Mrs. Edwards left the Council three years ago, Mrs. Hardy says she is still very much involved in its affairs as she often volunteers her time there. She also adds that, for Mrs. Edwards, working with seniors was more than a job.
“She did not work here just [because it was her] job…one day she said to me “Hardy, I love my job with all my life.” She would use her own money, she would use her time and her weekends just to get the job done,” Mrs. Hardy says of her predecessor.
In addition to being a volunteer at the Council, Mrs. Edwards is also the coordinator for the senior dance group, ‘the Recycled Teenagers’.
Mrs. Edwards states that what keeps her going is her philosophy taken from a Bible scripture, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”.
She is encouraging persons to embrace challenges, make the best use of their opportunities, and to show respect to others.
“Don’t be afraid of challenges. Life is short and whatever we can do to help somebody [let us do it]…do all the good you can. Today you are on this side of the counter, tomorrow you are going to be on the other side of the counter asking for assistance. So be good and treat people with respect,” says Mrs. Edwards.