Thirty-five years of contributions to the Cayman community were finally recognized publicly last Thursday when Mavis Williams received the FirstCaribbean International Bank Cayman Islands 2005 Unsung Hero award
Mrs. Williams, who was unanimously chosen from a list of 21 nominees by the Unsung Heroes committee, has provided foster care for some 25 children, many of them troubled, over the past three and a half decades.
Mark McIntyre, FirstCaribbean’s International Banking Director, said Mrs. Williams was a truly remarkable woman who was very deserving of the award.
‘Mrs. Williams has made a tremendous contribution to the community and country,’ he said. ‘She has done this without consideration for reward or acclaim.’
Mr. McIntyre explained that Mrs. Williams is not a registered foster parent, but that she had still opened her doors and purse to many Caymanian children.
‘These children come from all walks of life,’ he said, adding that some were drug addicted teenage parents, some came from broken homes, and some were handicapped.
Mrs. Williams’ daughter Pat is now a registered foster parent, and Mrs. Williams, who lives with her daughter, now takes on the role of Grandma, Mr. McIntyre said.
Currently, there are eight children in the house, Mrs. Williams said.
Mrs. Williams also has two children of her own.
FirstCaribbean Bank launched the Unsung Heroes Programme in four countries in 2003. It was so successful the programme was expanded to 10 countries, including Cayman, in 2004.
However, Cayman was unable to take part in the programme in 2004 because of Hurricane Ivan.
To be eligible for the award, nominees have to be dedicated beyond the ordinary towards social improvement, they must not have a high media profile, they must be a Caribbean citizen or resident for at least five years, they must be apolitical, and they must not seek to directly promote any religious movement.
Mrs. Williams’ name is now forwarded to FirstCaribbean’s regional committee for consideration as Regional Unsung Hero.
Cabinet Minister Arden McLean was on hand to see Mrs. Williams get her award. He praised FirstCaribbean for recognising ordinary people who make extraordinary sacrifices to achieve extraordinary things.
‘As football coach Jimmy Johnson once said, the difference between extraordinary and ordinary is that little extra,’ Mr. McLean said. ‘The extraordinary woman has given much more than a little extra. Miss Mavis is very deserving of the coveted title of Unsung Hero.’
Mr. McLean encouraged others to take Mrs. Williams’ example and do the little extra to make other lives more enjoyable.
Mrs. Williams said the award was unexpected.
‘All these years, I was never recognised like this.’
As part of being Cayman’s Unsung Hero, Mrs. Williams gets to choose a benefit for a $6,000 donation from FirstCaribbean. Mrs. Williams said she would choose Social Services as her benefit.
Andrew Williams, who was taken in by Miss Mavis when he was a baby, said he enjoyed – and still enjoys – Christmastime with the woman he calls Granny.
‘Her Christmas beef is the best,’ Andrew said. ‘It’s so good, I wish there was more than one Christmas in the year.’