WHEN the death of Marvette Williams' father in her first year of high school left her and her eight siblings in the sole care of their unemployed mother, her story became one of rising above adversities. The sale of one goat from her backyard meant that the children would finally get new uniforms, food or even shoes. On some days, there was only enough for bus fare. In the years that followed, Williams would be tasked with what she termed the "embarrassing duty" of selling peanuts throughout high school to help provide for the family.
"At first, I was too shy to cry out 'Peanut! Peanut!' because I didn't want to be known as a peanut vendor, however, I realised that in order to move my family forward I had to look beyond myself and open up to what needed to be done. I got some guts and I realised that I was actually good at selling," she said.
That early experience taught Williams to always put the best of herself forward and set aside her reservations for the benefit of those around her. It is a trait for which she has today gained admiration as a bartender at Grand Pineapple Negril Beach Resort.
Williams has held her current position for 17 months, having started at the resort as a Hospitality Training Programme trainee in 2005 after completing a restaurant course at the HEART Trust/ NTA. Her diligence, willingness, jovial nature, professional mannerisms, numerous guest mentions, welcoming persona and ability to grasp concepts and execute duties efficiently did not miss the eye of the management team and resulted in her being called, on several occasions over a two year period, to fill in for staff members.
She was later offered a permanent position as a waitress and served for six years before transferring to the bar department.
"She's always on the go and jumping at new opportunities and encounters. Hers is a can-do attitude. She's very positive and always willing to give new tasks a try," said Operations Manager Lancelot Lebert.
"I love my job and would do anything to ensure that I get to work on time, support my colleagues and am able to give back to our valued guests. I don't make excuses for not giving my best," shared Williams, who is also said to have braved recurring criminal uprisings and possible reprisals in her volatile home community of Grange Hill, Westmoreland, in order to fulfil her commitment to the hotel. In seven years, she has never been absent from work.
"I look at myself and I think that I started out as nothing and today I am in a position to not only enhance my life but that of others. I measure my success not by how busy my day is, but by the camaraderie I share with my colleagues, how often my smile makes others smile, and in the way I am able to make each visit to the bar at Grand Pineapple Negril a unique experience for our guests," she said.
Williams works as part of a team of three; however, on many occasions, guests have been known to stand around the bar insisting that she be the one to put her special touch and personality into their cocktail mixes.
She admitted that she did not start out as the 'star bartender' that she is today, but she made the best of on-the-job training and subsequently mastered bartending and dining room service. She has also grown an enviable fan base among the resort's returning guests, many of whom she has encouraged to return on another Negril vacation by personally referring them to the hotel's Soon Come Back desk.
Williams has earned the monthly Smile and Courtesy Award six times (the most times won by any one team member) and at the annual awards ceremony in her first year as a staff member. She has also been given the honour of Most Guest Nominated Team Member, Resort Team Member of the Month (twice), the General Manager's Award and named Most Improved Team Member of the Month. She is a regular standout in online guests' feedback and as a team player, has helped to move her small department to improved monthly guest scores. In addition, she consistently identifies areas to be addressed and makes recommendations for improvement of the beverage department.
Williams is what her colleagues call a 'people person' and she constantly looks for opportunities to share her warmth and values with others. As an active member of her church's organised youth group, she has been able to touch the lives of many children and youth in her community through sports and social activities. When on the job, she looks beyond the restrictions of a small department with heavy demands and gives back through community outreach such as visits to the Hanover Infirmary to treat residents.
The 29-year-old says in the future she wishes to become a training manager in order to grow and develop others because she has been inspired by all that she has accomplished on resort.