MONTEGO BAY, St James — For many years Jerome Milwood waited patiently for an opportunity.
He spent several days and nights sitting on roadsides in his Glendevon community in this western parish, wondering when his “buss” would come. The graduate of Maldon High School had got used to hearing that “nothing good can come out of Glendevon”, but he told the Jamaica Observer that he flatly refused to believe it.
That golden opportunity came in 2016 when he was offered a job with Western Parks and Markets (WPM), the regional arm of the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), as a route supervisor.
“People are of the view that nothing good can come out of Glendevon, especially me, and because I used to sit on road roadside they would think that of me. But an opportunity arose after a Member of Parliament asked me what it was that I wanted and I said that I needed a job. I told her that whatever it is, I would do it. I just needed a job,” Milwood said.
Having learned that the waste management authority had multiple vacancies, Milwood told the Sunday Observer that he applied and was asked to attend an interview with his qualifications.
“They told me to bring in my qualifications and I did just that,” he said.
Milwood continued, “To their surprise, I actually had qualifications…because even though I grew up in Glendevon, I went to school and I graduated from every level up to high school, plus I got CSEC subjects and I have knowledge of practical things. I remember they asked me, ‘So you have all these qualifications and sit down on the roadside?’ I told them that I was never given the opportunity, so offering me the job was the first opportunity I got.”
As a route supervisor Milwood was in charge of a group of road sweepers in and around Montego Bay — a task he undertook with much pride, he told the Sunday Observer.
He quickly made a name for himself through his determination to succeed, and was given more opportunities to grow within the company.
“I was then suggested by Mr Scott Dennis to be in the stores department because he was there for quite some time but he was moving up in ranks, so he recommended me for the job. I was here in the garage with him and saw how the operations are, so I was familiar with the process,” Milwood explained.
He worked as a store clerk for just under three years before he was promoted to the post of transport officer, he said.
“There was a vacancy for a transport officer and I have knowledge of the activities of the garage, the mechanism of the trucks, and the system in which to maintain them, so I was again recommended for the job. The executive director and the operations director both saw it fit to have me accredited in the position,” said a proud Milwood.
Growing up in Glendevon was not an easy road for Milwood, who told the Sunday Observer that he was raised without his parents as his mother lived overseas and his father was absent. He shared that while opportunities were there to become involved in illicit activities, he was determined not to fall into the garrison life trap.
“I didn’t want to become a product of my environment. Being unsupervised because my mother went overseas to look for a better life and I didn’t grow up with a father, I had friends who were not so much on terms with the law, but I wasn’t involved in those activities,” he said.
Reminiscing on the life he has lived, Milwood stated that the opportunity to work outside the community was welcoming. Though many people may look down on his work, he has never felt ashamed and wears the WPM-branded shirt with pride.
“I remember looking in the mirror and saying that, ‘I am not going to fail; I am going to grab this opportunity with my two hands and run with it.’ And here I am after so many years — I have proven my worth in the company. The main focus was to hold on to see how I could implement a change in my life. I also wanted to make sure I don’t run afoul of the law because every day go a well, one day the bottom haffi drop out,” he said with a chuckle.
His motivation also comes from wanting to see his three children live good lives.
“I believe in good, better, best so if this is the good [then] there must be a better, and the best may come. If you were a street person and your children become street kids then you have failed as a parent. I think that would make me a total failure so I do not want that for any of my kids,” Milwood said.
“My eldest child is graduating from Montego Bay High School this year…and I want her to see that her father is a working man who provides for them,” he added.
While maintaining a good professional life, Milwood is also a single father of a one-year-old boy as he told the Sunday Observer that his partner died during childbirth. That, he further pointed out, serves as encouragement to push for great things.
“It has been a ride because growing a child from the grass root, I did not know of it; I just knew how to play the working father role — come in from work and do what I need to do — but being there as a single parent was like walking into an unknown. I didn’t know what to expect but I had to deal with it. It is not an easy task but it is a task that has to be done,” Milwood said.