Stacy-Ann Gavin

Stacy Ann Gavin

Approximately four? years ago, I crossed paths with this lovely human. We clicked shortly after meeting and working in the same organisation. We’ve been cheering each other ever since.

This mother of boys is beyond selfless. She serves at the community level as well as the national level without complaining or seeking personal gain. Stacy is the front runner of an amazing organisation that works with girls and women to better develop themselves and their communities.

After learning more about her skills and altruistic nature, I asked her if she would like to be featured on my blog – to which she agreed.

So here’s a series of some questions she answered.

1. What is your background (academic and professional)?
I have a BSc. in International Relations and an MSc. in Gender and Development Studies from the University of the West Indies Mona. I have worked formally in Community Development since 2007 with my first job at the Jamaica Social Investment Fund. Subsequently,y I have worked on various projects with various funders and organization and communities across Jamaica. I have been awarded many awards for community development from various communities, awards I treasure because they are from the grassroots persons I served.

2. What’s the name of your organisation?

Girls To Women Development Foundation Limited – for short, I’ll call it GTWDFL.

Formed on January 8, 2015, GTWDFL is based on a desire to express gratitude.

Below, Stacy shares the story behind her organisation.

I started my MSc. in Gender and Development Studies but then faced difficulty to finance my education because I subsequently lost my job. I previously applied for a Climate Change scholarship and was advised that I was not successful! The award could not have come at a better time as they called me one year later and in the time when I was unemployed and contemplating leave of absence from my studies! I could not believe the perfect timing and I was filled with such gratitude, I felt compelled to give back!

Stacy continues by sharing that GTWDFL was the best avenue to alleviate the struggles of vulnerable girls and women where she gets the opportunity to use the skills she garnered through her studies.

3. Who makes up your target audience?
My target audiences are Jamaican girls and women from 6 years to 99 who are vulnerable and are in need of our services.
4. What is the aim of the organisation?

The response to this is perfectly summed up in the organisation’s official mission which states:

To facilitate the realization of Jamaican Women’s fullest potentials, so that they can empower all those around them.

5. Where do you see the organisation in the next five years?

In the next five years, I see us serving more girls and women offering a wider range of programmes and services…a holistic centre for economic, social and emotional development for girls and women.

I would love it if I can contract my team as staff as right now they are all volunteers working for a common good and that will also ensure the quality and the duration of our activities in a sustained way!

6. How do you feel about community development? What does community development mean to you?

Helping people is my purpose and Community Development is the medium through which I realize that. I absolutely love community development and all aspects of it! I have been doing community development before I even knew about the term and I don’t see my work – now or the future – separate from community development.

I have chosen Community to be a career and not just a job… I often say my job is the coolest because I get to effect sustainable changes in the quality of lives I interact with and no paycheque can give a more gratifying feeling.

7. How important (in your eyes) is community development to the overall development of the nation?

There can be no development of nation without community development as people are socialized by their community!

Try as you wish to have economic and physical development without community/social development, but I assure you it is all in vain.

Community Development has been long seen as the less important sibling to economic development and we are now seeing the results of that.. low moral and decaying value systems, no amount of economic policies can buy the values that out communities can instill.

As a nation and as a people we have failed to see the value of community development, consulting experienced and qualified community development practitioners, and understanding that social science is a real science with ever greater possibilities for impact.

If we want an improved Jamaica we must see community development as the centre to all policies and the budget should be aligned accordingly.

8. How do you find the motivation and general drive to get your organisation moving forward?
My drive and motivation are within the lives we are impacting. Sometimes what we think is so little means so much to others. To think that a small box of food saved a suicidal mother from ending her life because she just could not provide a meal and her children were all hungry. Or helping someone to comfortably take their prescription because they now have food.. or even a cancer patient who has nothing to eat after paying her chemotherapy bill…these are the testimonies of our ladies who receive their boxes of food. At first, we thought the boxes were not enough and we were unsure about the responses but when we gave out the first boxes and we collected all the feedback the entire team was motivated to do more and give more because to us it is little but to a person in need it is plenty!
9. Name three of the initiatives that your organisation has or is currently undertaking.
Basic Needs Distribution Programme – We currently have 20 women in this programme. Our target group is females who are heads of their households and are facing financial hardship as a result of sickness, unemployment, disability, natural or man-made disaster.
Aim: To provide a monthly portion of food and household supplies to women in need to alleviate the challenges of their current circumstances.
Chic Chats – We currently have 16 girls ages 13-18 enrolled in this weekly programme. This girls club contributes to the personal development of girls from the surrounding communities. The session is led by a trained and experienced Life Coach who takes the girls through structured yet fun interactions in developing our girls to become more socially aware and rounded women.
Community Outreach – As part of our advocacy and awareness we engage the wider community groups such as churches, schools, universities and community events to speak on varying topics such as issues affecting women, sexual and reproductive health, Personal Hygiene and Transformation, Career Discussion.
10. What words of encouragement would you share with someone hesitant about starting their work in community development?
  • If helping people is your passion then Community Development is for you!
  • Do what you love because you will need your passion/drive on days that are frustrating. Be open to change and new learning because people’s need and priorities change rapidly.
  • Be genuine! Community persons know when you are working for the money or working because you care and they will respond to you accordingly.

Summation: This life changer is on a mission to pay it forward and positively impact the lives she comes across and the communities she works with. Personal gain is not her goal – all she wants is to aid in developing her nation; her home.

Get in touch with Stacy and the Girls to Women Development Foundation at the following spaces: