Wednesday, April 7, 2010

BELIZEAN SPOTLIGHT- DAME ELAINE MIDDLETON


This is a segment to honor and recognize outstanding Belizeans and their descendants for their accomplishment and contributions to life.  As a proud Belizean, I believe it is imperative that we support and promote Belizeans both at home and abroad. You are an important part of our community. We hope we can inspire our children to reach for the stars.

You can nominate a candidate for Belizean Spotlight that you believe has excelled or contributed to our life.
 


Previous “Spotlight of the Month” can be found in the archives.
DAME ELAINE MIDDLETON
Resilient, hard working, compassionate, honest and dependable, and a mentor to many are some of the words I can find to describe this inspirational woman who has dedicated her life as a loyal Public Officer and Community Organizer to the people of Belize.  As a result of her many years of service, in 1998 Queen Elizabeth II of England bestowed upon her the well-deserved title of Dame Commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George (DCMG). She is a woman with a passion for women and compassion for children in Belize.

Ms. Elaine, as she is known by many of her friends, was born in Belize City, the third child of Leolin and Elston Kerr, Sr. Her father was the winner of the first and second Cross-Country Bicycle Championship in 1928 and 1929 and second place winner in 1930. Her mother the late Leolin Gillett who later married Mr. Sarco Gillett after the death of her first husband lived for many years in the Village of Crooked Tree. At the age of four years Miss Elaine went to live with her Aunt Mrs. Ethel Marshall and her husband Mr. Dudley Marshall a senior Officer of the Belize Police Force. Her guardians inspired her to do her best and to help others.

After passing the necessary local examinations, Miss Elaine began her teaching career at the Salvation Army School in Belize City.  She later transferred to the Methodist Mission where she taught in various schools in Belize City, Gales Point, and in Dangriga Town.  During these years of teaching Miss Elaine continued her community work as a Girl Guide Captain, Youth leader and Sunday School Teacher. Miss Elaine was also one of the first 15 teachers to attend the then newly opened Belize Teachers Training College.

In 1957, Miss Elaine left the teaching profession to join the Belize Public service as a Probation Officer in the Social Development Department.  This department was at that time responsible for all general Welfare work on behalf of families, Women and Youth work, Probation and Court work, Work with Village Councils and Disaster Relief work.  Today this department has been divided into several independent units.  Miss Elaine rose through the ranks in her department until she became the Head – the first woman to be made a Head of Department in the Belize Public Service.

Under her watch, Miss Elaine initiated and developed many programs that were beneficial to the lives of people of Belize. Some of them included expanding the 4-H movement in Belize, and establishing the National 4-H Training Center at the National Agricultural Show Grounds in Belmopan. In this movement she promoted the expansion of an exchange program between Michigan, USA and Belize in the areas of 4-H and Home Economics. 

Her compassion for the well being of children led her to establish the Youth Development Center at Mile 22 on the Western Highway, a Residential training facility for boys 14-21 years, where they were taught agriculture, trade skills, and personal development. After establishing the boy’s center, Ms. Elaine went on to develop a Home Economics School in Belize City for young girls and a Home for girls with behavioral problems. She also founded the first Home for neglected children, now called the Dorothy Menzies Home in the Kings Park area in Belize City.

Because of her work and passion for women, she instituted the first Women’s Bureau, which has been expanded and upgraded to become the Women’s Department, in the Ministry of Human Development and Social Transformation

Miss Elaine forged on with determination to institute some of her other major work and programs which included work with the Village Councils, promotion of Rural Women’s Groups, Welfare and Court Work for Women and Children, and Disaster Relief throughout the country.

In 1981 Ms. Elaine left intact a well developed Social Development Department to become the Director General of the Belize Red Cross. In this capacity, she worked to acquire new offices for the Belize Red Cross, which is now situated at Gabourel Lane and Handyside Street in Belize City today. She expanded the various programs at the Belize Red Cross, one of which has grown into the present day Belize Council for the Visually Impaired. A major part of her tenure as Director General was beginning the process of getting the Belize Red Cross recognized as an independent society.       

In 1983 Ms. Elaine left her beloved Belize with her 3 young children, Yvette, Dean and Terese and husband Winston to live in Los Angeles, California. Once there, she dedicated her time to the welfare of her family. By now she was well known by Belizeans at home and abroad for her public service; therefore, she was sought out and became a member of the Consortium for Belizean Development and worked with other NGO’s committed to the improvement and welfare of Belizeans.

After watching her last child graduate from college in the US, she moved back to Belize in 1994 and was offered and accepted the position of Executive Director of the National Committee for Families and Children, (NCFC) from 1994-1998. The NCFC is an advisory body to the Government of Belize for services and supports to families and children; monitors the progress of Government and Civil Society towards meeting the goals of the various United Nations Conventions on behalf of families and children.

In 2002 Miss Elaine worked as a short term Consultant at UNICEF for the formation of a project “Towards a National Consensus on a Comprehensive Policy and Plan of Action for Children and Adolescents in Belize. This was a project in which the two main Political parties participated and signed an agreement to implement these plans by whichever party formed the Government.

Through her hard work and perseverance, Miss Elaine achieved numerous awards and grants from around the world:

1965- Leadership Grant from the US Government to study Social Work Practices in the United States.

1976- Awarded Member of the British Empire by the Queen of England for her services to the Belizean people.

1998- Awarded the Dame Commander of the order of St. Michael and St. Johns (DCMG) (equivalent to Knighthood for men) from the Queen of England for her outstanding services to the Belizean people.

1999- Listed in the British Edition of Who’s Who.

Today, Dame Elaine Middleton continues her unwavering work for the people of Belize as she served on the board of YWCA of Belize, as President from 2002 – 2009, as a member on the Board of Management of Wesley College in Belize City, and member of various committees in the Methodist Church.


Miss Elaine earned a Degree in Social Work Practice from the Union Institute in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. , has an Associate of Preceptors degree from College of Preceptors in the United Kingdom, Diplomas in Social Welfare and Administration and Applied Social Studies from the University College of Swansea, Wales, United Kingdom, and a Trained Teachers Certificate from the Belize Teachers Training College. 


Although Dame Elaine Middleton has achieved a great deal in her life time to be proud of, I think she is most proud of the legacy she left to her own children, and the 8 wonderful grand-children who call her grand-mother

6 comments:

Cherry Cadle said...

Wow, what a lady! Linda this was an extraordinary piece of writing for a well deserved Belizean. Bravo for doing something so special for Ms. Elaine and her family. This was one time you put the belizean song to shame:No wait until the man is dead to tell him that he's good. In this case of course a woman. Keep up the good work!

Linda Crawford said...

Thanks very much Cherry! Indeed, she is an amazing woman.

I would like to thank you for reading, for commenting, and giving me the motivation to keep on existing.

Much appreciated!!

Jane said...

We can all aspire to be as Ms.Elaine

Angela Palacio said...

Great Woman! Thanks for featuring this wonder woman of Belize. Her accomplishments are many. I am happy to read her story. I admire her and will strive to do well.

Linda you did a great job capturing the essence of Dame Elaine Middleton. Thanks for showcasing her.

Terese Akrofi said...

Thanks Linda for the great article and spotlight on my mom. Thanks also for the wonderful work you do to keep Belizeans informed.

Terese Akrofi

Anonymous said...

Many thanks for nominating me to the Special Envoy for women and children's Trailblazer Tuesday's feature on her Facebook page.
Many thanks for all your support and love over the years.