When Pauline Carter-Lecky responded to the St. James Municipal Corporation’s (Parish Council at the time) need for Municipal Police Officers in 2004, she was about to start a journey that would see her eventually transition to become Inspector of Poor, and to head the Poor Relief Department.
A former Five-Star Chef and restaurant manager, Lecky commenced her ascension to management as a Senior Supervisor at the Corporations’ Municipal Police Department, where, at the time, she oversaw the activities of thirty four (34) security officers and supervised the administrative responsibilities of the entire department.
Born and raised in Deeside, Trelawny, a young Lecky always dreamed of becoming a Nurse. She recalls an early love for the medical field, but says her aspirations were set back when her father passed away in her late teens.
“I was not necessarily interested in the field of enforcement when I sought to work as a Municipal Police Officer. But when my father passed, it put a damper on my dreams, for it was he who would have funded my education. His passing, plus the fact that I had older siblings in college at the time forced me to make some change in my direction, and I ended up experiencing work in varied fields before I got back on track,” said Lecky.
Her first job as a clerk in a furniture store, but wanting to do much more, and still considering ways to get to her dream, Lecky then moved to Grand Cayman where she worked as a babysitter while studying for her O’Level exams.
At this point, she would get her start in the restaurant business as the family she worked for operated a restaurant named Reggae Jammin. Lecky was invited to start cooking at the family owned restaurant, and then at another at the airport lounge in Grand Cayman called the Hungry Horse.
She worked in Grand Cayman for six (6) years before coming back to Jamaica to work in the same capacity at the Coyaba Beach Resort in Iron Shore, Montego Bay, after which she fill a management position at the Rafter’s Village Restaurant in Martha Brae, Trelawny. She would commit herself to the job for another year before finally taking up the position of Ward/Nursing Assistant at the St. Ann Infirmary, an opportunity that was more in line with her initial career goal.
“I worked in St. Ann for two (2) years before being transferred back to Trelawny. I enjoyed working as a nurse, but I wanted to do so in Trelawny, my home parish,” she recalled.
After her transfer, while awaiting a response from the Trelawny Municipal Corporation, Lecky decided to make use of her entrepreneurial skills by managing her own small restaurant in Montego Bay. She did this for two years before returning to Trelawny to establish a chicken farm and “Bake & Sale” – her own pastry baking business.
According to Lecky, business was doing well, but when she saw the St. James Parish Council’s call for Municipal Police Officers in 2004, she believed it was an opportunity to continue towards her dream.
After two (2) years as a Municipal Police Officer, in 2006, Lecky got the opportunity to manage the affairs of the Charles Gordon Market. Even though she had a serious interest to move on to the Poor Relief Department, her success as Market Manager was hindering any possibility of a transfer to the department.
“It seems I was doing too well at the market and the Secretary Manager (now Chief Executive Officer) at the time did not want me to leave the position. My entrance into the Poor Relief Department did not become a reality until 2008, when there was a change in Secretary Managers at the time. The new Secretary Manager saw my potential and helped to open up the way for me to commence working as Poor Relief Officer,” Lecky recalled.
After five years in the department, Lecky was transferred to Hanover to take up the post of Senior Poor Relief Officer between 2013 and 2016. She also acted as the Inspector of Poor in Hanover on two occasions during this time.
She then returned to St. James in 2016 to take up the post of Deputy Inspector of Poor. The then Inspector of Poor was close to retirement, and before her departure, she recommended that Lecky should be given the opportunity to lead the department, stating that she wanted to leave the department in the ‘best hands’.
The recommendation was accepted and Lecky understudied the Inspector of Poor for six months until the position became vacant as a result of the Inspector of Poor’s retirement.
Since attaining the position of Inspector of Poor, Lecky says she works with staff to improve the services provided. Under her leadership, there has been a notable increase in the service output from the department.
“The aim is to give more. We have increased our funding especially for students, who we provide with school supplies, tuition, lunch money, homework assistance etc. The programmes we administer now, save for the rehabilitation programme, which is my brainchild and fairly new, have always been part of what we do, but my intention as Inspector of Poor was to ensure that funding was increased so that we could bolster our level of service delivery. The Ministry of Local Government and Community Development ensures that more funding is provided and this enables us to reach out and impact more persons positively,” said Lecky regarding the impact she has had on the department.
Lecky manages a total of eight staff including a Deputy IOP, a Secretary and six Poor Relief Officers who are responsible for clients across six zones in the parish.
When asked how she encourages staff she replied, “I draw on my own experience throughout the years. I encourage them to continuously seek to nurture within themselves a passion to care for the needy.”
Speaking to challenges, Lecky suggests her greatest issue is accessing land to build cluster houses for clients. Currently, when a house is built on private property, if a client passes away, the house then belongs to the land owner. She believes the development of cluster houses on government owned land would create a pool from which future clients could benefit when persons pass away.
Concerning the changes she would like to see, Lecky said she would like to see the Municipal Corporation playing a more serious role in helping with the housing issue.
“I would like to see us paying out less for rental and providing housing for more clients; particularly those who are in dire need of shelter,” said Lecky.
As for plans for the future, she wants to leave the department in a strong position. Lecky is working now to see to it that our operations are improved to a higher level as she wants to see staff getting continuous training to improve their knowledge of the field, while operating with a serious love for the work and for clients.
‘My guiding philosophy is that ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me and I could never have done it without God,” concluded Lecky.
Pauline Lecky, mother of one, recommends that persons entering the field must understand truthfully, the plight of the poor, and be prepared to give of themselves as much as they can to ensure that the destitute has an opportunity to achieve a balanced life to contribute to society.