The spirits of residents of St. Monica’s Home for the Elderly in St. Catherine, have been lifted, following a refurbishing project at the institution by Civil Servant of the Year 2020, Marie Hall.
Under the project, dubbed ‘Legend of Gold’, Miss Hall and her son, Richard Smith, gave a facelift to the building and made the bathrooms safer and more user-friendly, creating a better quality of life for the residents.
She also presented a blood-pressure machine, an oximeter, and a thermometer that she received from a donor in the United States.
Manager at the Home, Hermine Basco, tells JIS News that they had searched for a donor to sponsor the refurbishing of the institution without success, and that Miss Hall came at the right time, especially with Christmas approaching.
“I am feeling grateful and positive,” she says.
Miss Basco points out that, a few months ago, the Civil Servant of the Year walked into the institution, introduced herself, and said she wanted to do something to improve the look of the Home and needed permission, to which she happily consented. “We look much brighter going into Christmas,” she says.
“Our bathrooms were refurbished, so they are safer and more comfortable for our residents. Several items that we truly needed have also been given by Miss Hall. This kind of giving is really a blessing to us, and it is already making a difference in the lives of our residents,” the Manager notes.
Miss Hall, who is a Senior Secretary at St. Jago High School in the parish, and who was selected for the Technical Support category of the Civil Servants of the Year, says homes for the aged remain a key element to social protection, hence the White Marl-based Home was chosen for urgent attention “because of the needs identified while on a site visit”.
“With First Heritage Co-operative Credit Union Limited (FHC) as our corporate supporter, we have made a significant transformation to this facility. Our dedication and passion to public service is reflected and echoed in the lasting legacy and impact this intervention has on the residents and staff,” she tells JIS News.
Miss Hall adds that with the goodwill of the management, “we developed a bond, and became a family”.
“We are motivated to continue advocating for the vulnerable and children in our communities, to connect, build and maintain relationships and create change,” Miss Hall said, at the recent handover ceremony.
The Civil Servants of the Year Awards 2019 was organised by the FHC, in collaboration with the Government of Jamaica Civil Service Week Steering Committee, in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service. Eligibility requirements stipulate that nominees must have been employed for a minimum of three continuous years. Each Ministry is asked to nominate up to two members of staff.
Since 2019, three new categories of awards have been introduced into the Civil Servants of the Year Awards, to broaden the scope of eligible nominees as part of efforts to revitalise the initiative. They are Technical, Management and Middle Management. Each awardee receives a cash prize of $200,000. All three awardees must complete a joint community project valued at $150,000.
“We are happy that we were able to serve our country as Civil Servants of the Year 2020. The journey and the experience were remarkable and rewarding, and we found purpose. This platform gave us a voice to change the narrative, to create change, and impact lives in a positive, meaningful and inspiring way. There is a true sense of happiness that we feel when working for a cause that is bigger than us,” Miss Hall says.
She notes that the volunteers on the various projects are “worth their weight in gold”, and their willingness to give freely of time and talents “is greatly appreciated”.
Senior Marketing Officer at the Credit Union, Carlene Coley, says the project at St. Monica’s reflects what her company stands for, and the “true intention with the civil servants has always been to bring joy to families and communities by offering a helping hand”.
“This is a job well done, it is a project that they (residents) are well deserved of, and they appreciate it very much,” Miss Coley says.
The St. Monica’s Home provides residential care for senior citizens who are without the resources to care for themselves and has the capacity to house about 30 persons, offering comprehensive treatment to the elderly, as well as adults living with HIV/AIDS. It is run by the St. Patrick’s Foundation.