Sadie Walcott Hensell: A heart for service
SADIE WALCOTT HENSELL reluctantly left Jamaica at age 13 from her home in Petersville, Westmoreland, noting that she was ready to return home the minute she arrived in England.
However, Walcott Hensell said she was still under age and had no choice but to reside in England with her siblings and parents.
In 2002, the door was opened for Walcott Hensell to return to her beloved homeland as she was setting the groundwork to “take care of her parents”, it was felt she should be the one to return to Jamaica. Fortunately, her beloved late husband Kenneth was in agreement and it proved to be a fulfilling experience.
Hailing from a family whose heart and soul is based on service, Walcott Hensell met with the Social Development Commission officer in her area as she explains, “I needed to learn how the country was, bearing in mind I left here at an early age, so I decided to look into what the entities do to enhance my own cultural understanding and work within my community,” she shared.
She also wanted to find out from the agency just what she could do and how she could offer herself to be of service. Armed with information, Walcott Hensell set about becoming a change maker in her community.
Walcott Hensell targeted three schools in the area – Petersville All-Age School, Kings Primary and later on New Hope Primary and Junior High. She volunteered her services working with students who had fallen behind, calling in specialised help for them when needed and bringing about transformation never thought possible.
“I felt that, that was my area of strength, so I asked the principal for those persons who were really in need of extra support work,” she shared, adding that she enlisted the assistance of a gentleman she knew in England to come out of retirement bringing the students’ grades up to par,” Walcott Hensell told The Gleaner.
Her involvement with the schools did not stop there as she also arranged for assistance through sourcing back-to-school supplies and food items for the breakfast programmes in all three schools.
When Walcott Hensell’s siblings in England heard what she was doing, they wanted to strengthen the programme.
“They registered the KASSSI – the Ken and Sadie Student Support Initiative with the UK Charities commission enabling them to help by sending funds so the back-to-school outreach instead of assisting one school could impact all three schools she was working with.
Walcott Hensell, who reminisced on her husband who died four years ago, said it has been hard without him. She said he was the one who would encourage her at times when she got discouraged and wanted to quit. “He would say, ‘They didn’t ask you babes, you offered’,” something she said would be enough to regain her focus.
Walcott Hensell said KASSI is the brainchild of the CEO - her brother - Garth Walcott, who named the charity in honour of his brother-in-law and herself.
Looking ahead, she said her life will continue on one path - the mantra she lives by, “I will do as much as I can, for as long as I can to all the people I can.”