Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Rosetta Steer: Champion household worker

Published:Monday | May 23, 2016 | 5:00 AMKeisha Hill
Rosetta Steer (left) is the centre of attention for (from second left) Frances Madden, one of the judges for the awards; Grace Burnett, CEO of GraceKennedy Financial Group; and Minister of Labour and Social Security Shahine Robinson, at the recent media launch of the 2016 GraceKennedy/Heather Little-White Household Worker Awards.
The 2015 GraceKennedy/Heather Little-White Household Worker of the Year Rosetta Steer.
Governor General Sir Patrick Allen welcomes (from left) Shirley Pryce, president of the Jamaica Household Workers' Union and the Caribbean Domestic Workers Network; Rosetta Steer, Household Worker of the Year 2015, and second place winner, Jasmin Miller. Also photographed is Simone Clarke-Cooper, group chief communication manager, GraceKennedy Limited.
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Rosetta Steer stood confidently at the podium, speaking eloquently and effortlessly captivating her audience. This was just a little over a year ago when she copped the top award in the GraceKennedy/Heather Little-White Household Worker of the Year Competition.

Then, it was far from obvious that the champion among household workers across the island was shy. "I would talk but once I had to speak in front of an audience I got really nervous," Steer told Flair.

These days, with her shyness but a memory, the now confident and exuberant Steer said winning the award helped to improve her public-speaking skills to the point that she now believes she has perfected the art of delivering these presentations.

"I have never had to speak so often in my life. I have had to do interviews on television and radio. I have had to make other presentations to different audiences. I am now at the stage where I listen back to the audio or watch the television clips and see where I could have done better, and I have been improving," Steer said.

 

LOTS OF HELP

 

She is quick to say she has had help and encouragement along the way. "Even when I thought I could not do it, there were persons there helping me along and their support really helped to boost my confidence even more. I would just remind myself that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me," Steer told Flair.

 

Passionate about her work

 

Steer is passionate about her work and is not deterred by criticisms. "My aim is to please. I tell all my employers that I am not perfect, but at the same time the quality of my work is at the highest level. I carry myself as a professional, as the top household worker that I am," she stated confidently.

When asked how she managed to survive on a household worker's wage over the years, Steer indicated that teamwork in her family has been the key. "In my household, I talk to my children. They know how much money I have to spend and they understand, so they don't expect more. Whatever we have, we satisfy," Steer said.

Steer has also sought to upgrade her educational qualifications and is now pursuing a course in practical nursing. She will complete her final examinations this week, and will go on to practical training during the summer.

However, pursuing higher education has not been the easiest road for Steer, as coupled with her daily household tasks, she is also a mother, grandmother and also very active member at the Waterford Baptist Church. She is also a member of the Women's Federation and assistant secretary to the Usher Board. As a member of the Jamaica Household Workers' Union, she actively participates in a number of its activities.

On the verge of giving up on numerous occasions, Steer delved deep for inner strength to survive. "It's housework so I don't get a break to study. When I am finished I have to rush off to class, then afterwards I have my own family to take care of. God gives me the extra strength, so I put out every effort to be positive," she said.

 

A SIGN

 

Steer recalled one afternoon when she was determined to throw in the towel. She said she began talking to God who, according to her, showed her a sign indicating that she should not give up. "I had a test that evening, and I could not remember anything on the paper. Almost at the end of the paper I started to remember a few things. On my way to the bus stop I started to cry and said to myself that what I was doing was not my calling," Steer recalled. When she got to the bus stop she said she saw a sign across the road that read, 'Don't give up - it's not over yet'.

"My response was, 'that was quick!' I believe in the Lord, and the next day I went back to class with a more positive attitude. I love housekeeping, but I want to be marketable. I want to have a choice because if I wake up tomorrow morning and I don't want to be a housekeeper anymore, I would have an option," said Steer.

Steer has credited the competition for opening her eyes to many possibilities and giving her the opportunity to interact with persons at different levels. One of her most memorable moments was her visit to King's House where she met with Governor General Sir Patrick Allen.

"I actually got to speak with him and shake his hands!" Steer exclaimed. "Under normal circumstances I would not have had the opportunity to see him in person. I would only see him on television. It was a wonderful experience," she added.

The GraceKennedy/Heather Little-White Household Worker Award was inaugurated in 2014. Steer copped the award in 2015 from a field of 120 nominees islandwide, and hopes this will inspire others to excel. Second place went to Jasmin Miller, while Charmaine Smith rounded out the top three.

"It's hard work but hard work pays. All household workers must strive to be professionals and understand that for fair work there is a fair day's pay," Steer said.

Nominations for this year's competition opened on May 9 and runs through to June 6 and can be emailed to gracekennedy@gkco.com, mailed in to 73 Harbour Street, Kingston, or submitted online at gracekennedy.com/householdworker

keisha.hill@gleanerjm.com