Andrea 'Peggy' Lawrence – the cheerful giver
There's not a kinder soul than Andrea 'Peggy' Lawrence, it seems. And if we're to go by 2 Corinthians, then God loves her because she gives everything with a cheerful spirit.
Hailed recently for her community involvement by her employers, Jewel Dunn's River, Lawrence took some time out to speak with Family and Religion about her dedication to service, even while maintaining that she does everything without seeking recognition.
The chat was like a cheerful walk down memory lane with friends, as her bubbly spirit and good humour lit up the office.
A mother of two grown children, Lawrence has, nevertheless, unofficially, adopted the role of mother to several needy persons over the years.
Her penchant to give of herself might have started some 17 years ago, after her grandmother took ill.
"What really motivates me, in 2001, I used to be a cosmetologist when my grandmother got sick, and I had to leave my job and go home to take care of her," she pointed out.
"It was not easy watching her go back to the baby stage, where I had to feed her with a straw or a spoon. After she died on July 9, 2002, I decided that I really wanted to help people out there who cannot help themselves, and I've been doing that ever since."
When Lawrence started working in the hospitality sector, she naturally gravitated towards her company's community service team.
"From the previous company where I worked, I have been involved in community service, and as soon as Jewel Dunn's River opened its doors in 2010, they also started to do community service, which I really love. It's something I have a passion for, so I never ever miss going to an event."
Lawrence's involvement, however, stretches beyond this. Her personal commitment to helping others has seen her go beyond the norm to do so.
"In my community in Steer Town, you have people there that I use my paycheque and buy things like mattresses and curtains and give to them. The last time I bought a mattress and curtains from the hotel and gave it to this lady, she cried and wet up the whole a mi uniform. She said I was an angel and she couldn't believe. She added that I didn't bring it by myself, but I was sent by God.
"What happened was, we had a bottle drive at work where we went from place to place to pick up bottles. When I went to this lady's house all she had was a piece of ply on the floor where she had her clothes. I knew right there and then that this would be my next project; this is what I wanted to do.
"Then there was this other lady whose house was burnt to the ground. I went into my closet and shared my clothes and my shoes in two and gave her half of everything I had. That was what I wanted to do. And I didn't even know the lady. I had never seen her before, but I heard about her situation and decided to help."
When the team from Jewel Dunn's River does community projects, rest assured, Lawrence is always there, whether it's a visit to the St Ann Infirmary, the hospital, feeding the homeless on the streets in Ocho Rios, or otherwise.
COMING FROM THE HEART
Erika Bent, the hotel's human resources manager, gave her view on Lawrence: "I really started communicating seriously with Peggy when I learnt about her daughter, who has a medical condition. There is just so much about Peggy, the way she took care of her daughter. Then I remember her having a niece, who was in Kingston, who got into a little bit of problem and every week on her day off, Peggy would go to Kingston. She would buy food, take clothes and ask the person, 'What is it you really want to eat?' She was always there for that individual. She is that sort of loving, caring, determined individual, who is jovial at the same time. Peggy is genuine; she really cares for people and it's coming from her heart. She's not doing it for recognition."
Acts like those mentioned above have set Lawrence apart from the ordinary citizen.
"I do it because I am motivated to. I just love to help people who cannot help themselves, and I really love people," she explained.
Lawrence recently got an award from Jewel Dunn's River Resort for her involvement in community activities. The hotel noted that her contribution went far beyond the scope of its community outreach programmes.
She was surprised but grateful for the recognition.
"I was overwhelmed because I did not expect an award. When I do something, I do it from the goodness of my heart. I'm not expecting anything in return. I was invited to the function as an usher and when I got the award it was unbelievable. I'll cherish it for the rest of my life."