Businessman and former taxi operator Leon Anderson, better known as ‘Wayne’, has been awarded for his sterling contribution to commerce and community development in his native Linstead, St. Catherine.
“It makes me feel appreciated,” he told The Beacon. “As a youth coming up in the community, I didn’t even realize seh people even si mi. I never know that I was noticed by others.”
Anderson, who was three years old when his father John Anderson died, rose from humble beginnings to become the operator of Ackee Pod Restaurant and Bar as well as Your Wholesale.
He was among 10 people awarded at Linstead Resource Centre on February 28 during an event dubbed ‘Linstead Black Togetherness’. It was hosted by Gi-di-han Entertainment and One Life, in association with the Linstead Community Development Committee (Linstead CDC).
Anderson, who grew up at various communities in Linstead, was raised by his mother Carmen Burke who was a bar operator. His grandparents Uzanda Burke and Claris Graham Burke were also instrumental in his upbringing.
His formal quest for education commenced at Johnson’s Basic School, followed by Linstead Primary. It ended at Dinthill Technical High.
“As a poor guy, I couldn’t even go to school for too long, because I had my life to live and my mother was poor and couldn’t push me further,” Anderson recalled, adding that he became a father while in high school.
He worked with different companies, including a state-owned entity known at the time as the Public Works Department. Anderson also did a one-month stint at the now defunct Alcan Jamaica Limited in Ewarton, St. Catherine.
He eventually gained permanent employment with his childhood friends – the Maragh family, including Lennon and Ann Maragh. That family operated a farm and a wholesale.
Anderson also recalled that, during his high school years, he worked for the said family on weekends, doing odd jobs such as washing vehicles, bathing dogs, and watering plants.
He, after ending his tenure with the Maragh family, operated a taxi for about four years.
Anderson eventually opted to take a much bigger risk, renting a property at 61 King Street in Linstead, where he now operates Ackee Pod Restaurant and Bar. He also entered the wholesale business using a rented premises.
He told The Beacon that he developed a love for business while working with the Maharaj family.
“I didn’t have business on my mind, but, working there and being close to them, I started liking business. I didn’t just work there; I learned while I was working,” Anderson further said.
He, over the years, developed a virtually immortal bond with commerce.
“Sometimes I wonder if I should even bother to go further; the behaviour of people sometimes turns me off. But the love of business just drives me to go on further. I like business; I like the challenge and excitement it brings… One day I hope to own some place in the town [of Linstead] so that whenever my time comes to rest my name can live on,” Anderson said.
He has proven to be interested in much more than dollars and cents.
He helps students with tuition and lunch money, helps fill prescription, and is never too busy to give a sound word of advice.
Anderson, on some occasions, also allows people to credit goods to start their own businesses. “Sometimes they come through; sometimes they fall short. But it is a risk I take with them,” he said.
Anderson further indicated that his benevolence is effortless. “I never even realize I was doing something good,” said the entrepreneur, who has two children and is married to Latoya Maragh Anderson.
He eventually would like to be remembered for his contribution to his community and its people.
“I would like people to remember me for what I do; I don’t want anyone tell any lie on me; just remember me for the truth,” he declared.
The truth is that Anderson has been a big asset to the Linstead community, according to Devon Smith, President of the Linstead CDC.
Smith, in introducing the businessman during the awards ceremony, told the gathering: “This youngster (Anderson) continues to operate his business in this community, but tremendously giving back over and over quietly.
“These are people who don’t own all the businesses; it is no mega business. But they continue to give of their little bit, and make a tremendous difference by creating employment for other persons so that their families can also continue to survive,” Smith further commented.
Anderson, in the meantime, appealed for young people to desist from wallowing in self-pity.
“The young guys need to stop blaming people for what they are doing and take responsibility for their own actions. Stop saying you don’t have any father; stop behaving like people owe you something, because no one owes you anything at all. You owe yourself what you want in life,” the businessman further commented.
By Horace Mills, Journalist
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