Small feat, big impact: Nikeisha Watson finds joy in givingThursday, July 15, 2021
NEGRIL, Westmoreland — For Nikeisha Watson, cook at Beaches Negril, giving to the less fortunate makes her feel happy and complete. She instills the notion in her 13-year-old daughter that someone doesn't have to offer you anything for you to lend a helping hand.
Watson, who previously worked for a security firm contracted by Sandals and Beaches Resorts, transitioned over to the hotel chain some four years ago as a cook at sister resort, Grand Pineapple Negril, after completing the six-week hospitality training programme. As a security guard, she saw first-hand the work that Sandals Resorts and Sandals Foundation were doing in the community, and she had immense respect for the brand.
Throughout her lifetime, she has been known to help youngsters with lunch money, school shoes, text books and other important needs they may have. She also shares her family meals with the elderly in her little district.
Her passion for giving back, albeit in her own small way, has really given her the deepest pleasure.
Watson shared that since recently, she wanted to do more than just to give to those in her community. This intense desire to take it a step further was fuelled by what she experienced during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“Last year was a tough year for me and I am sure for many others as well. But I have seen how the Lord has brought us safely through and things are beginning to look brighter. I am overwhelmed with thanksgiving to be back at work and to be able to continue providing for my family. I wanted to show my gratitude by paying it forward. I wanted to do more than I usually would,” she shared.
This burning desire led Watson to her very own kitchen, where, on one of her days off, she and her daughter prepared a meal consisting of rice and peas, curried chicken, tossed vegetables, bread pudding along with juice and water. She chartered a taxi to take her around Savanna-la-Mar and neighbouring communities where she served meals to 25 street people on that day.
“These individuals are always on the road asking for money to buy food. Sometimes the money they get does not go towards food but they spend it on other things that do not benefit their bodies. I always want to give to them when they ask, but I honestly believe I work too hard for my earnings to give to persons who won't use it for their own good. So, I decided the only way I am sure they will use the money I give for food is if I give them the food myself and that is what I did,” she explained.
“I didn't ask for help because I really wanted to do this on my own. I wanted to do it for the persons and also for me. But persons still wanted to help so my executive chef at Beaches Negril, Juan Morrison, donated food boxes and water and an elderly lady in my community contributed funds to the cause.”
Morrison said when Watson shared her plans he was fully on board with her.
“We work for a company that is committed to helping the less fortunate in our communities and is always encouraging our team members to give a helping hand to others whether it's a company project or from a personal level. I was happy to see that she wanted to give back in such a meaningful way,” said Morrison.
Watson shared that the reaction from the beneficiaries was heartwarming.
“They were filled with so much gratitude. I had a gentleman asking for an extra food box because he hadn't eaten for two days, he looked to have been recently out of the hospital after losing three of his toes. At one point I was crying. I didn't know the situation was so bad. We pass them day-by-day and many times we even pass judgement, wondering if they don't have family members to care for them and get them off the streets, but until we spend time speaking with them and helping them, then we probably won't ever understand their story. I felt so light and free after doing this and felt so good having had my daughter help me cook and distribute these meals.”
Watson has vowed to continue this act of service monthly and wants to impact more people.
She plans on seeking help from Beaches Negril, the Sandals Foundation and others who are willing to come on board and help to make a difference.