Three civil servants have been honoured by First Heritage Co-operative (FHC) Credit Union in collaboration with the Civil Service Week Steering Committee. The outstanding awardees were selected from a pool of nine nominees for the 2020 to 2021 period during the annual Civil Servants of the Year Awards Ceremony hosted at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston on Friday, December 4, 2020. FHC, a long-time supporter of the island’s civil servants, staged the usual flamboyant affair with a drastically reduced audience – in adherence with COVID-19 guidelines.
The Honourable Marsha Smith, State Minister in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, commented on the Government’s commitment to the transformation and modernisation of the Public Sector and the importance of public-private collaboration during the prestigious awards ceremony.
“The very nature of the public sector is that work is done in terms of service ensuring that a problem or a need in society is attended to… When you have a global pandemic such as COVID-19, which requires persons to work in a collaborative way. The mechanisms that you need to get persons to work together is going to come from the public sector … The public sector ensures that the weakest in our society is taken care of through the various Government institutions,” explained the State Minister.
CEO of First Heritage, Roxann Linton, commented that “We are aware of the significant work and the sterling contributions that our civil servants make on a daily basis to help with the development and the running of our country. Civil servants also represent a significant component of our FHC membership. So, CoVID or not, we were going to have this event, but in keeping with the health protocols.”
Minister Smith added that “It is very important when institutions such as the FHC, work or partner with our public sector workers and recognise their value [and] the importance they play with building the local economy, the social fabric and framework of our society, [for the private sector] to uplift the workers through the various programmes they may have whether it be through concessionary rates or programmes that allow them to live more fulfilling lives whether it be for themselves, their children, or the extended community.”
Noting FHC’s benefits already available to members who are civil servants, Ms. Linton also commented that coming out of the Credit Union’s most successful year yet, in 2019, that the organisation continues to use its successes to help bolster the financial wellbeing of its member-base during the pandemic.
“We were able to offer moratoriums, waivers of fees, and any kind of assistance that our members needed. There were also activities that we did in the communities to help support our members. We look forward to continue supporting our members in 2021,” asserted the FHC CEO.
FHC’s renewed partnership with the annual Civil Service Week (CSW) initiatives in 2019 facilitated a revamp of the annual awards with the three awardees, up from a single awardee in previous years.
Of the nine nominees, Senior Secretary at St. Jago High School, Marie Hall; Clerk of Court at the Trelawny Parish Court, Stephen Williams; and Director of Human Resource Management in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Juliet Lakeman were awarded in the areas of Technical Support, Middle Management and Management, respectively. As in the previous year, the credit union provided individual cash incentives of $200,000 each, plaques and citations.
FHC continued its $150,000 grant for a joint community project. Last year’s awardees, Candice Henry of the Jamaica Defence Force Coast Guard; Sophia Levy of the Administrator General’s Department and Celia Lindsay of the Jamaica Information Service (JIS), joined forces for the empowerment of young people. The grant from FHC facilitated last year’s cohort of winners with aiding the development of infrastructure of the Homestead Place of Safety for Girls and the National Baptist Basic School in Arnett Gardens. The two projects were boosted through a spirit of volunteerism from other civil servants, the wider public, as well as private sector companies such as Caribbean Flavours and Fragrances, Sagicor Life Jamaica, Carlissa Enterprises; and the Seventh-Day Baptist Church.
In past years, the Civil Servants of the Year Awards Ceremony has stood as one of many activities during the annual Civil Service Week, acknowledged each November. Whilst the CSW Steering Committee cancelled all their initiatives this year out of an abundance of caution in light of the pandemic, they are looking forward to staging 2021 activities in more innovative ways.