Coordinating any event in Jamaica is a challenge. There are so many uncontrollable factors such as the weather, cost of goods, and limited resources that limit what one can do, that any extra hurdles are just infuriating. So what would you do if you had meticulously planned a week-long summer camp for 50+ youth , tried your best to use your little budget and resources to make sure that the youth, volunteers, and staff were fed, but then had to figure out what to do with the extra people that would show up and ask to be fed- but aren’t part of the program? You would tell them, “I’m sorry, we can’t give you any food because you’re not part of the program,” right? You would be justified. I would support you.
Unless the person in charge of the food tells you she anticipated this because, “Jedd, I don’t cook scarce you know…my mother taught me that.”
This is Mrs. Wright.
Aside from being a loving grandmother, member of the Church choir, awesome cook, basic computer class student, President of a social and service group for senior women, and a spunky and fiery woman, she is one of the most inspirational people we know (and probably one of the busiest). I first met Mrs. Wright during my orientation to my new work site, about a year and a half ago. Mrs. Wright is the President of a social and service group for senior women that partnered with the community center where I was placed to serve. For over 40 years their group has been meeting and doing community development work. It was through her leadership that the group partnered with another organization and donated the land and clubhouse for our new community center. Since opening last year, Mrs. Wright has played an integral part of the center by participating in the management committee, recruiting senior citizens to participate in clubs and basic computer classes, and being the head cook for our youth summer camps.
I have the most respect for those who let their lives speak more loudly than their words, like Mrs. Wright. I remember how frustrated I was during camp to see so many people show up at the community center, curious to see what was going on and then asking for food. I now know that it’s a cultural thing. But to Mrs. Wright, it doesn’t matter where you are from or who you are, because if you are hungry, she’ll feed you. I watched during our camps as she would make sure everyone participating in the camp was fed first, and then she would feed everyone else that was at the center. She didn’t question them as to why they were there or not. She didn’t turn anyone away. She humbled me. I was so worried and concerned about the program that I missed the bigger picture of unconditionally serving others, which was what the camp was about to begin with.
It goes beyond food. Mrs. Wright doesn’t do anything to seek attention. In fact, she often hides and avoids it; whereas many Jamaicans want to be in the spotlight. She does it because she loves and cares about others. I asked her recently what motivates her and she simply answered, “There will always be someone hungry who needs to be fed.”
I wanted to finish this post with this poem that made me think of Mrs. Wright because of all of her hard work, but more importantly, because of her faith and drive to be a servant to others, one that uses her gift to feed people love.
– a poem by William Stafford
To be a mountain you have to climb alone
and accept all that rain and snow. You have to look
far away when evening comes. If a forest
grows, you care; you stand there leaning against
the wind, waiting for someone with faith enough
to ask you to move. Great stones will tumble
against each other and gouge your sides. A storm
will live somewhere in your canyons hoarding its lightning.
If you are lucky, people will give you a dignified
name and bring crowds to admire how sturdy you are,
how long you can hold still for the camera. And some time,
they say, if you last long enough you will hear God;
a voice will roll down from the sky and all your patience
will be rewarded. The whole world will hear it: “Well done.”