Carol Dorman Higgins was sitting at her desk at work when she got the call from the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) that she was selected to receive a national award.
She is being awarded a Badge of Honour for Meritorious Service to the health sector.
Mrs. Dorman Higgins, an attorney-at-law who works at the National Housing Trust (NHT), has been organising the ‘We Care Health Fair’ in Whitfield Town, Kingston, for several years in honour of her late mother, Leila Maye Dorman, who passed away in 2004.
She tells JIS News that she did not know about her nomination for the award, and as such, when she received the call from the OPM on Tuesday, July 28, the news received was furthest from her mind.
“My workplace falls under the OPM, so I thought it was a work-related call, only to be told that I had been nominated for a national award, the Prime Minister had consented and the award was granted,” Mrs. Dorman Higgins shares.
“Well, I lost my composure. I said, ‘What!’, because I could not immediately accept that this was happening. It took me some time to compose myself,” she adds.
Mrs. Dorman Higgins, who is one of four children for her late mother, said that her mother was the first person she thought of during that moment.
She tells JIS News that her work in the health sector is due largely to the values that were instilled in her at an early age by her mother, and the kindness she received from a doctor within her community who provided free healthcare to her family, especially for back-to-school.
“After composing myself, I started to reflect on my mother, because immediately it came to me that she is the one who taught us to care. Our body language, speech and behaviour – everything to do with who we were – had to reflect that we cared about people,” she informs, adding that “the desire, passion and the urge to use all that I can to advocate for and to get health services provided to many, who otherwise would not have it, came from those teachings.”
She says that for the first two years after her mother’s death, she and her siblings would normally place a tribute in the local newspaper in memory of the family matriach. However, by the third year, she felt that there needed to be something more meaningful being done to honour her mother’s memory.
According to her, the decision to organise a Health Fair for residents in the inner-city community of Whitfield Town has been a “great way” of honouring her mother, who had many interactions with the health system, whether through her illnesses or through her role in setting up the Whitfield Town Church of God Clinic, after the devastation of Hurricane Gilbert in 1988.
“We started the Health Fair and branded it ‘We Care Health Fair’. We said we would do it every other year, and then it became every year, then several times in a year,” Mrs. Dorman Higgins points out.
“My brother, who lives in London, his church got involved. They sent a team of doctors, dentists, nurses along with medications,” she adds.
Through the We Care Health Fair, residents have been able to access services such as medical examinations, pap smears, mammograms, counselling, cholesterol checks and blood pressure and blood sugar screening, along with other non-medical services from various entities.
With a passion to help others, Mrs. Dorman Higgins has also spearheaded a number of yearly fundraisers for other health fairs. She has served on the Board of Management for the Harrison Memorial Home for Aged Women, where she was instrumental in getting the home registered.
Her contribution to the health sector is also evident through the work that she does with her church, Whitfield Town Church of God, where she has been serving as a deaconess since 2010.
She was integral in helping the church to secure property to build a multipurpose centre, which now houses a clinic and a homework centre.
For Mrs. Dorman Higgins, it is her desire to continue using her platform and the help of those around her to impact the lives of others. Although, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic prevented her from hosting the health fair this year, she still found a need within her community and solicited help from her family.
“This year, because of COVID, what we did was to donate water tanks to people in the Whitfield Town community,” Mrs. Dorman Higgins informs.
She says the decision to do so was because it was recognised that there would be increased hand washing due to COVID-19, and the community is one that has water challenges.
Mrs. Dorman Higgins is among a group of 126 persons, not including the uniformed groups, to receive this year’s National Honours and Awards.
The ceremony will be held differently due to the pandemic. It will be produced as a made-for-television event and broadcast on National Heroes Day, October 19, at 8:30 a.m. on national television and social media.