Giving because I always get my blessing
Greenwich Town Fishing Village’s Aunty Patsy ‘elated’ at JSIF award
When The Gleaner visited Kathleen Shaw-Gonzales at her business place in the Greenwich Town Fishing Village in St Andrew last week, she was definitely in work mode, with a full-length apron over her work clothing and gloves protecting her hands as she scaled and gutted sprats (fish) in preparation for frying.
This was in stark contrast to her appearance at the AC Hotel by Marriot, Lady Musgrave Road, St Andrew recently, when, all dolled up and with her hair styled, she proudly collected an award from the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) for her contribution to community service, as well as a Certificate of Achievement.
Shaw-Gonzales, who is known as ‘Aunty Pansy’ on the beach, reflected on the occasion.
“I felt very elated, overwhelmed. It made me feel like, ‘Yes, you have really done something for which others have recognised you’,” she shared. “I was rewarded and fêted, so it was really a good feeling.”
After more than 20 years operating on the beach, Shaw-Gonzales has seen her fair share of hardships as well as good times, but has remained committed to helping others in need. With schoolchildren being a priority, she takes pleasure in their success. She told The Gleaner that, only a few days earlier, two girls from a high school in St Catherine came to visit. They chatted, she enquired about their schoolwork and congratulated them for staying the course in school. “Me hug one and say, ‘You make me so proud because you are still in school’,” she recalled.
The fisherwoman, who owns a boat with the same name as her business place ‘Kasalegna’, has had a long association with the JSIF. It started in 2014 when she was the recipient of a chest freezer (deep freeze), an igloo (cooler) and a weigh scale. By then, two freezers she owned had stopped working and she was without a scale.
“When I got the new one (deep freeze), it helped me to set more ice to sell to fishermen. And I used to have to be borrowing people’s scale. So I don’t have to borrow people’s scale no more,” she declared.
In addition to selling fishing, Shaw-Gonzales also generates income from selling buckets of ice to other fisherfolk. She tries to give back from her earnings but the needs are many, she admits. They range from helping to provide school uniforms, lunch money, school shoes and bags to bus fare for young students.
In addition, she is a member of the Greenwich Town Fishing Beach executive, which administers affairs on behalf of the fishing community.
Shaw-Gonzales also regularly hits the road in her van with igloo and drums stocked with ice and fish to visit various communities in St Catherine, St Andrew and St Mary, some as far away as Brainerd and Highgate.
Her vehicle had been in the garage for the past three years but, since January, she has taken to the road again, to warm reception.
“Since this year, me start going back up in the rural communities and everybody glad fi see mi. (They’re) saying ‘from you stop coming, we nuh see nobody’. While I am on the road, I give away so many fish because you buck up two old people and them say ‘bwoy me woulda eat two fish but we nuh have nuh money’. I am always the one who quick to say ‘wrap up two fish and give them’.”
Pressed on her motivation for always sharing her bounty, no matter how small, she flashed a smile and answered: “Because I always get my blessing.”