True blue girl - Patricia Lee
Cathy Risden, Lifestyle Intern
Patricia Marlene Lee is a true blue Alpha girl. She attended Alpha Infant and Junior School before Alpha Academy and Alpha Commercial College. The co-founder of the Florida Chapter of Alpha Alumnae Association, on May 30, she will be awarded for her years of service as a recipient of the association's 2014 Woman of Excellence award.
An astute businesswoman, after making her mark in the banking industry in the 1980s, Lee migrated to Florida with her family where she now pursues another passion and runs a very successful horticulture business, growing and distributing foliage and plants throughout the United States, Canada and the Caribbean since 1987.
Lee is always eager to help others, getting involved in her church and community services, including feeding the homeless in the vicinity of her business operation in Florida. She has never forgotten the land of her birth, doing all she can to assist her alma mater, basic schools, HIV health centres and other charitable projects in Jamaica, all through the alumni chapter in Florida.
Lee told Flair that to get an award for something that she loves and enjoys doing is a very humbling experience, and she is who she is today because Alpha transformed her life. She told Flair the school was her refuge when her parents were having financial constraints and hardships. She revealed that even the wife of the school's caretaker stepped in to help, making her uniform at no cost. She even got her textbooks for free.
Alpha has taught her that there is hope in the midst of adversity, and for that she is really blessed. "I do as much as I can because I want to see Alpha at the top and for that 'mi buss mi shut' to get the job done."
But despite her situation back then, she treasures the fond memories of the time spent with her girlfriends and the little pranks they played. Today, her best and closest friends are from Alpha. Lee vividly remembers learning about Jesus Christ, through which her hope and faith was born. She received so much love and compassion from teachers and auxiliary staff, and the most important life lessons - compassion and self-worth. "I am my brother's keeper," she said humbly, adding "I was taught to give."
Home Sweet Home
While she has lived abroad for many decades, she is constantly thinking of her homeland and coming back home. "I would really love to come back to Jamaica to live; it's my home, and there are some lovely people and places. But for many of us Jamaicans living abroad, our only deterrent is crime and violence." Nonetheless, being in Florida has opened many doors and paved the way for her to be able to contribute on a larger scale.
But she believes in our future and notes that our children should be the priority of every individual, organisations and government." Let us look after our children first, they are our prime investment and our future. When we are long gone, don't you want them to share a better world? Why not take care of our children as well as others?"