NASSAU, The Bahamas – Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Obadiah H. Wilchcombe, paid tribute to the country’s first Social Worker – Ms. Frances E. Ledee – using adjectives such as patriotic, pioneering, and heroic, to describe her service to country.
Minister Wilchcombe’s tribute came during a joint Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development/Professional Social Workers Month Committee’s (PSWMC) Motivational Seminar and Unity Luncheon, held at the courtyard of the Department of Social Services, Baillou Hill Road, as part of the activities commemorating Professional Social Workers Month in The Bahamas. The Month was held under the theme: “The Time is Right for Social Work.”
The PSWMC was formed in 2017 to celebrate Social Workers Month at the Department of Social Services; to encourage Social Workers to get their Bachelor’s of Social Work degree from the University of The Bahamas, and to become incorporated with The Bahamas Social Workers Association (BSWA).
The Committee simultaneously unveiled the inaugural Frances E. Ledee Social Worker of the Year Award (New Providence Award). Ms. Marilyn Young, Welfare Officer, Community Support Services, Pitt Road Office, was the recipient. There were nine nominees for the Award. They included: Ciji Adderley-Major, Leslie Taylor, Gabrielle Romer, Andrea Newbold, Leandra Clarke, Garnell Morley, Wendy Clarke, Monique McKenzie and Marilyn Young.
“When we look at Frances Ledee, she is a heroine among us,” Minister Wilchcombe said. “When we consider the fact that she was the very first Social Worker in the country when many at the time thought that Social Work was not necessary, although there were considerable changes being made in the country.
She was among those who you would consider to be a pioneer, in fact, when the social revolution was launched in 1979, Frances Ledee was among those taking up arms. It was a very simple, simple philosophy — that we are to heal the sick, feed the poor, guide the youth, and bring peace to every heart.”
Minister Wilchcombe went on to describe Ms. Ledee as: “One of the greatest Bahamian women ever in the history of our country.” The Social Services Minister said Ms. Ledee’s commitment to social work, and service to her country, earned the respect of Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Sir Lynden Oscar Pindling.
“I heard the words spoken by the great Sir Lynden Pindling of this great woman. I heard when he spoke of adoration and the respect and the commitment she had to the work that she had to do,” Mr. Wilchcombe relayed to his audience.
“I heard when he said that she would write a new chapter in Social Services and that she would cause more to understand the important work that we must do for all of our brothers and sisters. She has been a leader and has quietly lived her life because she served and she served with dignity. She reminds us, every day, of the words of Dr. Martin Luther King that you don’t have to be all these things they talk about being a scientist and have this and all that to give service because service comes from the hear and that’s her,” Minister Wilchcombe added.
The Social Services Minister applauded the work of Social Workers, and all of those persons employed in the social work network, across The Bahamas. “Very few of us fully comprehend that every single day you are dealing with the blight of our society, the difficulties that we face. You have seen the stories that we only hear about, and many of the stories that we hear about is only after you have taken care of the situation,” he said.
“You are taking care of the women who have difficulties, you are dealing with those who are abused, you are dealing with the youngsters who have nowhere to go and they have to turn to you for love and care. You are dealing with those who have nothing and when they ask for a simple meal and some may reject them, but you are there to help them. You are dealing with the community of persons with disabilities, those persons. At one time, it was taboo to talk about having a disabled child, but over the years you have caused more to come and to be satisfied with the workings of our God.
“The truth is, the work that you do is exceptional; the work that you do is nothing short of being patriotic; the work that you do, many cannot do. In fact it is very obvious to me that unless you have a heart that overflows with love, this is not the place for you,” Minister Wilchcombe added to a rousing round of applause.
Minister Wilchcombe told his audience that they should be viewed as examples of character, of tenacity, of determination, and the results that can be achieved when individuals apply the three.
“I find it very difficult to understand how every day you contend with these issues, you deal with many whom others do not want to deal with, but yet you do and then you go home and have to take care of your families. Week after week, month after month, year after year and then some of you have had the tenacity and determination to come in, get the opportunity, get your Associate’s, get your Bachelors, get your Masters and your Ph.D. If that is not determination, if that does not speak to your character, of who you are, it tells a story of your uniqueness, your special category, and the fact that you should be seen as examples in our society.
“You should be seen as an example to the many who do not believe that they can because of your own endeavours; because of all that you have had to do to ensure that you could deliver the service required of you as social workers. Today is an important day. This has been your Month. I want to thank you all. I want to congratulate each one of you and I think that the fact that you have decided to lift this great woman up is so important. The Time is Right for Social Work,” Minister Wilchcombe added.