Ver­nice Lynch I owe it to God

Jamaica Gleaner - - FAMILY & RELIGION - fam­ilyan­dreli­gion@glean­erjm.com

VER­NICE LYNCH’S years spent serv­ing the el­derly have been re­warded as she was awarded a Badge of Honour for Long and Faith­ful Ser­vice, for ded­i­cated ser­vice to the Na­tional Coun­cil for Se­nior Cit­i­zens, on Na­tional He­roes Day.

With the recog­ni­tion of her work, how­ever, comes her ac­knowl­edge­ment of God’s role in help­ing her to achieve the award.

“As I al­ways say, in ev­ery­thing you have to give thanks,” Lynch told Fam­ily and Re­li­gion on Tues­day.

“When I look back, where I am com­ing from to where I am to­day, I have to give Almighty God praise and glory. To Him be the praise and the glory and the ado­ra­tion be­cause had it not been for Him, then I would not have been where I am to­day, to be able to re­ceive this award and so I have to give God thanks.”

Lynch started serv­ing the Lord at an early age, grow­ing up in the United Pen­te­costal Church in Bam­boo, St Ann, and has never strayed from the path.

“Had it not been that I started and con­tin­ued to do what I’m do­ing, spir­i­tu­ally, then maybe my life would have been to­tally dif­fer­ent to­day and so what­ever there is, I owe it to God.”

“The Church is my first unit of so­cial­i­sa­tion, and noth­ing stands out within me like the Church be­cause this is what moulded me from early years un­til to­day, and I am grate­ful and thank­ful to God for the Church of Je­sus Christ.”

WHEN IT ALL BE­GAN

Lynch’s in­volve­ment with se­nior cit­i­zens be­gan in 1995, when she started work­ing with the Min­istry of Labour and So­cial Se­cu­rity in Kingston. She was later re­as­signed to St Mary to serve in that par­ish and Port­land. From there, she went to St Cather­ine be­fore be­ing trans­ferred to St Ann in 2010, where she worked un­til 2015.

“It was a good ex­pe­ri­ence,” Lynch rem­i­nisced. “When you’re serv­ing peo­ple and not look­ing at it from a mon­e­tary per­spec­tive, but from just serv­ing, es­pe­cially the less for­tu­nate, you can do it with a sense of pride, a sense of dig­nity, know­ing that you are help­ing per­sons to en­rich their lives. It needs some­body with a heart to deal with se­nior cit­i­zens.”

She would have had the heart, it

could be con­cluded, based on the many mean­ing­ful ac­tiv­i­ties she ini­ti­ated dur­ing her time with the se­niors.

It was Lynch who or­gan­ised the first-ever Se­nior Cit­i­zens Sports Day, held at Clem­b­hard’s Park, St Mary, in 1977 and had par­tic­i­pants from that par­ish and Port­land. The sports day later grew to be­come a na­tional event.

Lynch also ini­ti­ated the Se­nior Cit­i­zens Spelling Bee and the Se­nior Cit­i­zens Bi­ble Quiz, while in St Cather­ine, and these events also grew to be­come na­tional events.

Then there was the Se­nior Cit­i­zens Coun­cil, which op­er­ates sim­i­larly to the par­ish coun­cil. Lynch also brought drama to the fold when se­nior cit­i­zens in St Cather­ine played roles in the play, For­get Me Not.

“St Cather­ine (se­nior cit­i­zens) did ex­cep­tion­ally well, and so from that, we got in touch with an agency abroad, World Cham­pi­onship of the Per­form­ing Arts, and our se­nior cit­i­zens from St Cather­ine went and par­tic­i­pated in the Tra­di­tional Folk Form (com­pe­ti­tion), with Irene Clarke emerg­ing as the world cham­pion for se­nior cit­i­zens in that par­tic­u­lar year.

“I al­ways tried to ini­ti­ate ac­tiv­i­ties that would have long life and what se­niors could ben­e­fit from.”

Mean­while, Lynch is of the view that se­nior cit­i­zens have much to con­trib­ute to so­ci­ety.

She ar­gued: “There are so many things you can con­tinue to do af­ter age 60; re­tire­ment at 60 is just a new di­men­sion of life, you are mov­ing on to an­other sphere of life. There is so much that se­niors can do once they leave their pro­fes­sional and busi­ness field.”

Lynch is also grate­ful for the per­sons who have been there for her over the years, en­cour­ag­ing her.

“I can’t for­get Mrs Bev­erly Hall Tay­lor; she was al­ways there to cham­pion the cause for me; Mrs Lo­raine McFar­lane, Mr Des­mond Cham­bers, out­stand­ing peo­ple that were in my life, al­ways there en­cour­ag­ing me to go for­ward. To­day, I’m re­ally and truly grate­ful and thank­ful to them, along with other per­sons. I am grate­ful and thank­ful to God most of all.”

Lynch was one of four per­sons in St Ann to be hon­oured on Na­tional He­roes Day. The others were Joseph Issa, for out­stand­ing con­tri­bu­tion to busi­ness de­vel­op­ment and phi­lan­thropy; Pix­ley Irons for out­stand­ing com­mu­nity ser­vice; and Ernest Smatt for out­stand­ing con­tri­bu­tion to the de­vel­op­ment of tourism in Ja­maica.

PHOTO BY CARL GILCHRIST

Ver­nice Lynch, lo­cal hero.

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