Janet Williams has been distinguishing herself as a champion for the poor and needy in and around her adopted hometowns of Ewarton and Linstead in St. Catherine.
That’s among the reasons she recently was awarded for her stellar contribution to community development in relation to Linstead.
“I feel great,” she told The Beacon.
Williams was awarded during a ‘Black Togetherness’ ceremony held at Linstead Resource Centre on February 28 amid COVID-19 restrictions imposed nationally.
The award was presented by Gi-di-han Entertainment and One Life, in association with Linstead Community Development Committee (Linstead CDC).
Williams is an executive member of the Linstead CDC, which awarded her on two occasions.
She said she feels honoured being recognized this time round by an entity with which she has no direct affiliation.
“I feel like I have been reaching out to other people,” she noted.
Williams’ penchant for helping the less-fortunate was inculcated in her mainly by her grandmother Irene Bent Powell, who was said to be amazingly generous to people, including members of a Golden Agers group.
“I got involved [with the Golden Agers] when I was 14 years old,” said Williams, who spent her childhood years in Kingston where she was born.
She recalled accompanying her grandmother to voluntarily collect pensions and wages for senior citizens before she started doing it on her own.
“Every other Thursday I would go to collect their (senior citizens) pay cheques and pensions at Public Works and KSAC in Half Way Tree, and then I would go and distribute [the cheques and wages] and get groceries for them and all of that,” Williams said.
She delved further into philanthropy when she joined Our Lady Of The Angel Church in Kingston, and started helping elderly people through the St. Peter and Paul Society that was connected to the said church.
“From then, it (philanthropy) just becomes a norm,” added Williams, an alumna of St. Anne’s Infant, Primary and Senior School, as well as Holy Childhood High.
Williams migrated to the United States when she was 19 years old, but returned to her native island to re-settle in 2006.
She, having re-settled, returned to her old ways of volunteerism.
She became Secretary of the Parent-Teachers Association (PTA) at Linstead Primary School.
While serving through the PTA, Williams met Devon Smith who heads the Linstead CDC.
Through that chance meeting, Williams joined the Linstead CDC and later became Chairman of the organization’s Welfare Committee.
She, in taking up that post, found the perfect vehicle to advance her outreach.
“It’s an area where I deal specifically with the poor, the shut-ins, and we do a number of community work,” Williams told The Beacon.
As head of the Welfare Committee, Williams, so far, successfully lobbied Food For The Poor organization to build five houses for needy families in the Linstead area.
She also helped to get houses for other people prior to her joining the Linstead CDC.
Williams said: “On a daily basis, it (Linstead CDC) is like another Food For The Poor [charity organization], because this is where people come for food, clothing and all of those things. We go out, we ask, we receive, and we give… Some people come here at the Linstead CDC for a simple bath soap; that is to show you how drastic it (the need) is.”
Williams added that people are usually grateful for the help rendered. “Just the words ‘thank you’ are very important to me; I feel like I have achieved the world for just those words…” she said.
Williams, however, is not all about philanthropy.
She is a sports fanatic, who recalled being a ‘Tom Boy’ while growing up with nine brothers.
“I played cricked with them; I played football with them; I fight with them; I did everything,” added Williams whose childhood dream was to become a nurse.
She ended up being a business operator, a farmer, a teen fashion model, a philanthropist, and a back-up singer.
Williams’ sojourn into music started when she was a teen member of the In-Crowd Band, which originated at Our Lady Of The Angels Catholic Youth Organization.
She did other gigs with other bands before she met Reggae icon Dennis Bown, who, at the time, was just launching his musical career.
Williams said she went on to become a back-up singer for the likes of Dennis Brown, Tony Tuff, and Tristan Palmer.
She also performed with Soul Syndicate Band and Mighty Cloud Band.
She added: “Dennis [Brown] and I became very good friends, and it’s like I was pulled into the studio and they found out that I could sing, and it was history from that… I was a back-up singer for Channel 1. I was at Aquarius Recording Studio, Joe Gibbs Recording Studio; I was all over the place.”
From all indication, Williams clearly enjoyed doing a lot of things, but being herself matters most.
“I love to be 100 percent me; just being natural,” she told The Beacon.
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