Thu | Dec 8, 2016

GraceKennedy 2014 Household Worker of the Year making strides

Published:Monday | January 26, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Keisha Hill, Gleaner Writer

Elaine Duncan's life changed the day she won the inaugural GraceKennedy/Heather Little-White Household Worker of the Year Award in May 2014. Chosen from a field of more than 120 entrants, Duncan took the title, $250,000 as well as the opportunity to choose a young person whose secondary education would be funded by GraceKennedy for a year.

Almost one year later, her prize money, she revealed, will be used to give her a possible change in career. "Ever since winning the award, I have been looking at how I could move on and I have decided to do a training course in social work," Duncan said. She said she has the full support of her employer, Professor Verene Shepherd, who encouraged her after she won to "look at her future now".

She will begin the formal training she needs by enrolling in a four-month certificate course at the University of the West Indies Open Campus. Having applied earlier this month, she is now awaiting acceptance for the programme, for which classes will be held in the evenings after work.

Duncan also disclosed the timeliness of her win, from which her niece, Catherine Rebecca McFarlane, a second-form student at St Andrew High School for Girls, has also benefited. "The scholarship came at the right time as my sister was having some financial challenges which would affect my niece being able to complete enrollment for the 2014-2015 school year. There were school fees to be paid, books to be bought, and the school had requested that my niece get a tablet for her schoolwork. Thanks to GraceKennedy, we used the scholarship to pay the school fees, buy the books my niece needed and she received a tablet as well," Duncan said.

Life-changing experience

For Duncan, the experience of winning the award has been life-changing. She is, therefore, encouraging employers to nominate their household workers when the programme is launched again in April this year. "This is a big help in terms of giving exposure to persons working in this field. It is a good thing." Citing last year's third-place winner Edward McGowan, Duncan added that she would love to see more men being nominated as this, she says, can help "to take them out of their shell".

The GraceKennedy Heather Little-White Household Worker Award was launched in 2014 to recognise this group of hardworking Jamaicans. The award was given in the name of Dr Heather Little-White, who worked closely and was involved deeply with the training of household workers during and after her career at GraceKennedy.

Nominations for this year's awards open in April 2015. Winners will be announced and awarded at the official ceremony in May.

keisha.hill@gleanerjm.com