Editors' Forum | Deidre the ‘Boss’ went from homeless to hopeful
With the help of a $50,000 grant and a mentor from the LASCO Chin Foundation, mother of five Deidre Dixon has transitioned from being homeless to hopeful in just seven months.
As a resident of Rae Town in central Kingston, Dixon was accustomed to social-intervention programmes aimed at getting at-risk youths to trod the straight and narrow path, but the LASCO Chin Foundation came with the added incentive of making her her own boss.
Dixon is one of the beneficiaries of the Sustainable Socio-Economic Intervention Entrepreneurship Programme which was launched by the foundation last year.
The programme seeks to battle crime and other social ills by providing entrepreneurial training and opportunities for individuals like Dixon by getting them involved in vending.
Today, Dixon makes a living from selling LASCO products to those in her community and patrons at a wide range of events.
“I was told that you would get a barrel, you would get products and you would have to stand in the sun, and at that point, I thought that I really can’t manage that part of the programme,” Dixon told a Gleaner Editors’ Forum last Thursday.
“But then I decided to stick it out. The three-day workshop I think had actually caused me to stay. It was very informative and I thought that I would have the support and all of that, so I decided to stay,” Dixon told Gleaner editors and reporters.
According to Dixon, who is also a youth ambassador for the National Integrity Action, she led a very nomadic life after she was burnt out in 2017.
“I was just all over the place, sleeping in church hall, all over,” she said.
That is no longer the case as she has been able to rent somewhere with the income she earns selling LASCO products.
“I recently bought a two-sided deep-fryer where I am doing chicken and chips,” said the new entrepreneur.
In order to get more sales, Dixon often sells the LASCO beverages with other items such as popcorn and hot dogs. Business is so good that she has already employed six other persons to assist her.
Two of her employees are boys who are a part of a football programme in her community, who she has looked out for over the years.
“What I do is [the] two of them, they get $30 for every bottle that they sell of the big ICool and for the small one, they get $15 for every bottle,” said Dixon, who will never forget the support of her mentor, a manager at LASCO, who kept pushing her and supporting her when she felt like giving up.
“I remember one particular time, I decided that I just couldn’t go no more because my son was diagnosed with a chronic illness and I just didn’t want to go,” said Dixon.
“She just wouldn’t take no for an answer, and at some point, I used to think that she is just so annoying, but she would not say no,” she recalled before adding, “I think I completed the programme mainly because of her.”
Dixon has no regrets about joining the programme and encourages others to get involved.
“It is worth it because you would end up becoming your own boss if you are serious about business,” said Dixon.